Thursday, June 22, 2017

Q and A of Baldwin City’s Wholesale Energy and Electric Production Systems

Q&A with the City

So where does Baldwin City actually get its electricity from?
Baldwin City has a diverse mix of generation types in our portfolio including, Coal, Natural Gas, Diesel, Wind, and Hydro.

We purchase about 74% of our wholesale energy from the Grand River Dam Authority, 12% from the Marshall Wind Farm, 5% from KCP&L, 5% from the Western Area Power Administration, 3% from the Spot Market, and the remaining 1% comes from the Southwest Power Administration and In-House Generation.

KCP&L also supplies Baldwin with use of their transmission lines to import power from the purchase agreements listed above.

I thought Baldwin City had a Power Plant?

Baldwin City does own and operate two generating plant’s, however, the cost of producing power internally is significantly higher than purchasing energy through our wholesale agreements.
For example, the average cost year to date of purchasing power through our wholesale contracts listed above is $.0484 cents per Kilowatt Hour.
In Comparison, our In-House generation while running on natural gas comes in at around $0 .0670 cents per kilowatt hour. When the units are running during an outage, or an anticipated outage, they use straight diesel at cost of $0.2049 cents per kilowatt/hour.

So when do you run the Power Plant?
Baldwin’s generators are not base load units, they are peaking units designed to shave peak load during high use times, and can be utilized as emergency back up during times when we lose power from the KCP&L tie line. This doesn’t mean they can’t run for extended periods of time; however the associated cost as shown above prohibits this.
Baldwin’s generation and how its’ utilized has evolved through several decades of load following contracts with KCP&L. Today we operate in the “Day Ahead” or “Day 2” market. Our newest units (7 & 8) located at Power Plant # 2, are registered with the Southwest Power Pool. SPP now oversees the entire transmission and distribution grid in our area, and is the dispatching authority over all registered power plants within their footprint.
Baldwin units run when directed to do so by SPP, however, we can self-schedule ourselves anytime for testing or during an emergency situation.
SPP has capacity and heat rate data on each of the registered generating units including large coal or gas plants like KCP&L, right down to the peaking units like Baldwin’s 7 & 8. They know what each unit is capable of producing and the associated cost. SPP will dispatch units based on hourly loads as well as forecasted peaks for the day ahead.
Does Baldwin sell the power it generates in the open market?
Baldwin City does not generate power to sell in the open market and never has.
Past contracts with KCP&L allowed us to sell off excess BPU Nearman energy when it was available, and we have sold excess capacity to the City of Gardner in past summers, but NONE of the energy generated by Baldwin units ever leaves the City limits.  

Why don’t we staff the plant 24/7?

The short answer is economics. Baldwin City currently has 2 plant operators that maintain and manage both power plants.

In the 1980’s, Baldwin had 8 power plant operators and was staffed 24/7. Through the 90’s and early 2000’s, many of the original plant operators retired and were not replaced, as there was no longer a need for round the clock plant coverage.

Baldwin’s electric utility has gone through other significant changes over the years as well. We now have two primary feeders that can supply Baldwin’s electric load from two different directions; West Gardner, and/or South Ottawa. This greatly reduces the risk of losing grid power for extended periods of time.

Last weekends’ outages were a prime example as the West Gardner Feeder was damaged due to several broken utility poles. KCP&L placed Baldwin City on the South Ottawa feeder until the repairs could be made.

Baldwin City is a Municipal Owned Utility. It exists to provide a public service to the citizens by way of long-term community goals, local control, local regulation, and higher standards of reliability.
Municipal utilities are located within their community and are readily available to serve customers. Local ownership means that customers' utility dollars stay in the community, creating jobs and supporting the local economy.

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