No. 8: Garden City ends power supply contract with Wheatland

12/24/2013

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of stories featuring The Telegram’s top 10 news stories for 2013.

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of stories featuring The Telegram’s top 10 news stories for 2013.

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

 

Citing a desire to act in the best interests of the public, the Garden City Commission decided in early January 2013, to switch to a new power supplier and later signed a contract with the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency to begin supplying electricity to the city starting Jan. 1, 2014.

In changing to a new power supplier, Garden City ended its contract with Wheatland Electric Cooperative, effective at the end of 2013.

The decision to change electric suppliers is No. 8 on The Telegram’s list of top news stories of the year.

The switch was prompted by the city’s desire to find a cheaper alternative to its electricity needs after Wheatland indicated in early 2012 that several years worth of rate increases were on the horizon.

Part of the KMEA power supply portfolio includes installation of three Siemens gas-powered turbines in Garden City. The turbines are located adjacent to and directly north of the city’s wastewater treatment plant on South Jennie Barker Road.

The three Siemens SGT-400 modular gas turbines are installed on foundations, but can be made mobile if necessary.

Garden City’s annual power load is about 65 megawatts. The turbines, when running, will provide 27 megawatts of that need. The rest of the city’s power will be provided by KMEA through contracts. Garden City will buy excess power generated by other KMEA member cities in addition to the power it generates using the three turbines.

The units are currently being tested. The commercial operation date, the date the turbines will officially be operational, is scheduled for April 2014. The turbines will add to the city’s future power supply but aren’t necessary to be online in time for the Jan. 1 switch to KMEA power.

Earlier this month the city commission approved two agreements associated with the switch to KMEA, an interconnection agreement and an agreement to be part of KMEA’s Energy Management Project No. 2.

The five-year interconnect agreement between the city, Wheatland and Sunflower Electric allows the use of electric infrastructure. The three-party agreement was necessary because Sunflower Electric is the transmission operator for the Southwest Power Pool, and Wheatland is connected to the transmission system.

The EMP 2 agreement between the city and KMEA formally makes Garden City a member of the energy management group that includes the cities of Ashland, Beloit, Hoisington, Lincoln Center, Osborne, Pratt, Russell, Stockton, Washington, Sharon Springs and Meade. KMEA also has two other energy management groups that include other cities in Kansas.

KMEA formed in 1980 when a group of northwest Kansas cities were looking to create adequate, economical and reliable long-term power supplies for their customers by sharing capacity, exchanging electricity and buying power on the open market. Initially, there were 21 member cities. Today, KMEA’s membership includes 78 cities throughout the state.

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