Power plant makes profit
That black smoke belching out of the city power plant smokestack Monday wasn't costing residents money, it was making money for them.
While most looked at the smoke and thought it was generating power to meet Baldwin City's demands, instead it was producing power for the open market. Western Resources was buying electricity because of a power plant failure and Baldwin was ready.
"We are selling," said Larry Paine, city administrator. "We were generating for Western Resources. It's nice to have a customer that wants power.
"It costs us $80 to produce a megawatt and they are paying $125," said Paine. "That means we can make a few dollars. We generated for them
for eight hours Monday, so that made us $360 profit. That's a good deal."
Baldwin's peak usage so far this year has been 7,600 Kw, compared to last year's peak of 8,300 Kw. Although there's less usage, despite the recent heat wave, there are other reasons Baldwin is in the electrical selling instead of buying market for a change.
"Infrastructure improvements are proving to be a nice thing," said Paine. "By improving the (transmission) lines and shedding load to different areas, we aren't creating the heated lines that resulted in line loss in the past.
"I think the other part is by moving load around we aren't having to fight the system," he said. "So, we have power to sell."
But, it wasn't all about selling power Monday and it didn't last Tuesday. KCP&L called and curtailed power to Baldwin late Monday, so the engines started generating for the city as well as the open market.
"We were selling and generating for Baldwin City Monday," said Terry McKinney, city utility director. "We had three engines running."
When the smoke started pouring out of the stacks again Tuesday, the question was raised if Baldwin was making money again. It wasn't.
"No, this is curtailment," McKinney said of the Tuesday smoke. "KCP&L curtailed us again, so we're generating for us. They did that to us four times last week."
As for the early morning power outage Tuesday, McKinney said it started with an "operation" at the Gardner KCP&L substation, which tripped Baldwin's substation and brought darkness.
"They had a operation in the Gardner substation at 3:32 a.m.," he said. "It was a momentary loss of energy. The Newton substation here saw low voltage and dumped the city. That will be corrected Aug. 6 and won't happen again."
New equipment will be installed at the Newton substation to avoid that problem, he said. When an "operation" occurs then, Baldwin will lose power for maybe seconds instead of 45 minutes experienced Tuesday morning.
"That won't happen anymore after that," he said.