Power plant to be built around generators
Baldwin City's future power-generating capabilities took a quantum leap forward last week when 6,300 kilowatt worth of engines were hauled in and placed at the new station in southwest Baldwin.
The two engines came in on separate days, one Tuesday and the other Wednesday, bringing 3,165 Kw in power potential with them. The $5.4 million generating plant project is expected to be completed by March or April of 2004 and will provide the city's power needs into the near future.
"When both of these new units are up and running next year, we'll be close to 11,000 kilowatt capacity," said Terry McKinney, city utility director. "It'll meet our needs for a few years, based on where we're at now with 8,000 kilowatt peak usage. That demand will go higher, depending on how many new homes are hooked up."
Baldwin's agreement with Kansas City Power and Light is based on the ability to generate the city's entire electrical needs during peak summer usage. During most of the year, the city obtains power from KCPL at 2.2-2.6 cents per Kw hour. But, when KCPL reaches peak capacity, the agreement allows power to Baldwin to be routed elsewhere. Otherwise, KCPL would charge the city 6-7 cents per Kw.
"That's why we get the economical pricing from KCPL," said McKinney. "Our agreement with KCPL for kilowatt hours is based on our ability to generate the full capacity of the town, plus a 12 percent reserve. That's to ensure that when KCPL calls to shut us off, we have the reserve."
The generating plant currently serving the city from downtown couldn't meet that anymore. The newest engine there was installed in 1970. The downtown plant will still be used to help with generating capabilities.
"It'll be used. It will be backup," he said. "We'll use the new ones first because they're more economical to run. Then we'd use the other ones as needed. The new engines are 20-25 percent cheaper in operating cost than the existing engines are."
Now that the new generating engines are installed at the new plant, the next step is to get it enclosed.
"The part we're working on now is the foundation walls. As soon as that's done, the contractor will start erecting the building," said McKinney. "The current plan is to have that all enclosed by September. Then we'll put everything in. Right now, all that's in there are the engines.
"We should be in full operation of the plant by March or April, which will be in time for next summer," he said.
The plant's capacity can be boosted if the need arises.
"The way we've designed the plant there is room for another engine," said McKinney. "Based on present growth, we don't expect that for at least five years. The (city) council's goal is to have all generation moved from downtown eventually."
That took a big step last week, but there's plenty more to do.
"The work really starts now," he said. "We've got a lot to do. Bids still need to go out for electrical and piping. Our first milestone was to get the pedestals poured and cured by the Fourth of July. It's all gone well. The guys have done a super job."