City to see increase in generating capacity
Baldwin City will soon be able to generate more electricity, which should solve the town's electricity concerns for about the next 12 years.
The Baldwin City Council agreed at Monday's council meeting that the town needed to purchase more electrical generation capacity, but couldn't agree on how much was needed.
In a 3-2 vote, with Council Members Ken Wagner and Ted Brecheisen voting against, the council approved the purchase of 8.2 megawatts of generating capacity.
"We are at the proverbial crossroads," City Administrator Larry Paine said. "Without some additional generation, our community will face a financial burden."
The council was presented with two options purchasing 5.5 megawatts of generating capacity at $3.5 million or 8.2 megawatts of generating capacity for $4.5 million.
The 8.2 megawatts that was approved by the council will cost the average rate payer a little less than $7 a month or $80 a year for a 1,800-square-foot home and a little less than $15 a month or $180 a year for a 2,400-square-foot home.
Utility Director Terry McKinney estimated that with 5.5 megawatts, the city, based on a 3-percent growth, would run out of required capacity in 2009. With the purchase of 8.2 megawatts, the city would have enough required capacity until 2015.
Council Member George McCrary said he didn't think 5.5 megawatts was sufficient to cover both commercial, as well as residential, growth.
"It's not enough," McCrary said. "In five to six years, I feel we're going to be back in this same situation. I think it's important we don't just get by. We need to look past five to seven years."
Council Member Todd Cohen said while he would rather see Kansas City Power and Light controlling the city's electricity, he agreed with McCrary about the need for 8.2 megawatts of generating capacity.
"I still think it's best that we get out of the power business," Cohen said. "However, without KCPL we don't have much of a choice."
Even though the 8.2 megawatts comes at a higher cost than 5.5 megawatts, McCrary said it's worth the extra money.
"I'm willing to pay extra to get cleaner, better power in this town," he said.
Wagner said he disagreed and didn't want to invest a large amount of money in generating capacity until it was necessary.
"When we lose (the Grand River Dam Authority) in 2010, that's the critical time in my opinion," he said. "We could have the money in reserves to add 2.7 megawatts then."
Brecheisen said he thought it would be more cost effective to only purchase 5.5 megawatts.
"I'm possibly in favor of saving money now," he said. "I just hate to keep putting us in the hole and so much debt for the city."
McCrary said he didn't think waiting to buy generating capacity would be economical for the city.
"I think the critical time for the city is right now," he said. "I think we would save thousands of dollars by doing it now."