Lamar Utility Board Seeking Alternative Power Sources for Light Plant

Lamar Light and Power Plant

Lamar Light and Power Plant

The Lamar Utility Board ratified a letter of intent between LUB and Greencastle, an energy development firm from Ohio. The letter directs Greencastle to perform an exclusive feasibility study which will focus on options for the future use of the Lamar Repowering Project.  Greencastle is a full service energy developer that specializes in renewable energy and natural gas technologies.  The company website states it can deliver solutions to optimize the total cost of financing, developing and operating a client’s energy assets.

Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh, told the board, “Greencastle will evaluate the feasibility of constructing a new gas-fired generation plant.” He said the contract is for 90 days and can be renewable as required.  A special judge recently ruled against the Light Plant and City of Lamar in their bid to seek a temporary restraining order against ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority, to move ahead with decommissioning the coal fired plant or scrapping it for an equipment sale.  As noted in earlier articles, the plant has not functioned for the past three years and will be inoperable until at least 2025.  The judge ruled that all interested parties in the litigation, including a private rate payer’s suit against ARPA, find some mediation alternatives within 90 days of announcing a mediator to oversee their discussions.  Syncora Guarantee, a construction bond insuring agent, is also named in the litigation against the city and utility board.

In a related matter, the utility board approved the agreement with the City of Lamar to equally share legal expenses in the lawsuits. Board member, Rick Beard, asked about current costs, “What is the utility board’s share at this point?”  Garth Nieschburg and John Sutherland, City of Lamar Attorney and Administrator, replied the fees are at about $20,000 to $25,000 at this point, working with a government discount from the recently hired law firm.  In light of the board’s limited funds, the City said they could make some adjustments on when the funds could be repaid.  Superintendent Hourieh said the board may need to go into their reserve account.

The financial statement for September shows, Year-to-Date, total operating revenues are $10,404,218 and total operating costs are $8,583,161 for a gross operating profit of $1,821,057. With non-operating revenues and expenses factored, there is a net profit of $430,708.  When the balances are compared to 2013, revenue from retail sales are up 3%, or $254,135 and overall operating expenses are down 2%, or $162,765.

Line crews are installing raptor protection equipment on the LAMSO substation to the east side of Prowers Medical Center. This circuit feeds the college and high school substations.  The wind turbine crews have completed their annual maintenance work on all five turbines.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinesscommunityEconomyEnergyFeaturedLamarProwers CountyUtilities


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