Irrigation Decline Could Impact Light Plant Revenue

Light Plant 2013 (2)

Houssin Hourieh, Lamar Light Plant Superintendent, outlined the recent sales of electricity report for this past May during board members bi-monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 9.  Year to date sales of electricity were 3.4% lower than this same time last year.  Residential customers were approximately 0.5% higher and Commercial and Industrial sales had decreased 5.7% and Irrigation loads were down 1%.  Street/Yard Lighting revenue had increased 8.2% compared to 2012.  The lighting increase was due to an audit last year which showed a number of customers had not paid for the service.  They were asked if they wanted to keep their lights for2013 and the increase was reflected in the monthly payments.  Board Chairman, Don Steerman, estimated there could be a continued decrease in electricity sales for Irrigation as the LAWMA water flow allocation has been cut to 10% of capacity from last year.  He said, “We could see a big dip in those figures over the next few months.”  Steerman’s term on the board will expire this August.  He said he will make a decision whether to apply for re-appointment in the next several weeks. 

The superintendent told the board he would be in La Junta Wednesday for an ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority meeting of the Operation Committee where the Supplemental Environmental Projects would be discussed by the board.  The SEP was mandated as a portion of the lawsuit settlement with the environmental group WildEarth Guardians.  ARPA will pay $125,000 to carry out environmentally oriented projects for its member communities in southeast Colorado, following approval by the state. 

Testing of boiler modifications for the Repowering Project are on hold as ARPA and the boiler manufacturer, Babcock and Wilcox will resume financial responsibilities through mediation scheduled for August 15.  Hourieh said, “Until we are through with mediation we have no schedule to start testing.”  He explained that the modified equipment is at the plant, but until funding avenues have been identified, no tests will be run until the ARPA gets the green light from the manufacturer.  Asked by board member, Ron Cook how the mediation looks at this time, Hourieh believed the differences will be solved through litigation.  He said that through the current agreement, Babcock and Wilcox pays for the equipment and materials and supplies the engineers and ARPA funds the installation.  “We’ve done this twice now and it doesn’t work.  Now, it’s on B & W to pay for this and the sticking point is the cost of the tests.”    

Hourieh said the plant has been operating with a skeleton staff, but says some contract labor will be hired once the tests get underway.  He estimates it will take about 120 days to run them and a list of the number of workers needed to staff the various departments is being compiled for when that day comes.  The tests will determine if the pollution levels are within the plant’s air permit regulations while achieving the desired percentage of power output from the coal fired boiler.  Even when that point has been attained, the plant will remain offline until 2022, the expiration date of an agreement to purchase electricity off the grid. 

Power was out for almost six hours on June 30 for some customers in the Bristol-Hartman area due to a burned pole at Country Road 11 and MM.  A dead-end insulator failed after a rain storm and it wasn’t until the line shorted and caused some sparking that it was able to be located.  The light plant line crew has also assisted the Town of Holly with the replacement of 550 feet of failed underground 5kv cable located on the south side of the town by the airport. 

Hourieh noted the Lamar Utility Board is now in its seventh year of hiring area youth to work in various departments.  This summer, Ashley Lawrence is working with the Transmission and Distribution Department, Kaylee Weakley is in Plant Operations and Jamin Tate is working with the Plant Maintenance crew.  

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: BusinesscommunityEconomyEnergyFeaturedHollyLamarProwers CountyUtilities


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.