Purchase of new engines could be electricity answer
The purchase of additional engines for Baldwin's power plant could keep the town out of electrical problems for the next few years.
Utility Director Terry McKinney presented the Baldwin City Council with two options to help the town's future electrical needs at Thursday's committee of the whole meeting, both which included the purchase of engines in addition to the ones being used.
"Already we've seen a considerable amount of increase in kilowatt usage," McKinney said. "Also we have several new businesses that will be on this summer's peak.
"The current agreement (with Kansas City Power and Light) requires the city to maintain 12 percent reserves in capacity," he said. "By our calculations, this year we will be 15 kilowatts short. By 2012, we will be almost 7,000 kilowatts short."
The first option presented included the purchase of two new engines for the power plant adding 5.5 megawatts of new generating capacity.
McKinney said this option would work for the city until 2010 when the agreement with Grand River Dam Authority for 3,000 kilowatts would end. Starting in 2010, the city's reserve capacity would be short again.
To add two engines, it would cost the city $3.5 million.
The second option presented was the purchase of three engines, at $4.6 million, adding 8.2 megawatts of generating capacity.
He said the 8.2 megawatts of capacity would meet system load demand plus required reserves through 2014.
"Our plan is by 2014, 2015 we'll have adequate cash reserves to pay for a new engine without having to put that burden back on our customers," McKinney said.
The council will be discussing the options at a future city council meeting.
But Mayor Ken Hayes said it's important that a decision is made soon.
"The real issue is, we've got to do something," Hayes said. "We're close to the edge of the hole and we're going to fall in it next year if not this year."