Lamar Light and Power Superintendent Rick Rigel requested bids from two natural gas companies currently doing business with the power company. He explained to the Utility Board members, the amount of gas was minimal and would be used only for a five day period to assist the plant with it’s online start-up later this summer. They voted to follow his recommendation of National Fuels Marketing as the natural gas supplier.
Rigel said the Repowering Project should be ready for initial testing of the boiler equipment modifications that were made this past winter. The boiler has been hydro tested, he said, and all tube leaks have now been repaired. Additional equipment, as well as the new by-pass value, will be tested as the power plant comes back online. A service engineer from the firm, Babcock and Wilson has been on site for two weeks, aiding in instrument calibration and Light Plant engineers have been reviewing a new test guidebook, which has been developed for restarting the Repowering Plant. The plant will conduct an initial test using natural gas, and then conduct a second test using coal. Fly ash content will also be tested to help determine optimum burn levels in the boiler.
The superintendent said total revenues from the plant’s operation are about $200,000 above 2010, but 4% below the budget, year-to-date. Rigel said the increases in Production Expense are attributable to a higher cost of purchase power by $1.0 million and Total Expenses are up $1.1 million for the year. Personnel Expense increases are due to increases in health insurance coverage and employee benefits and Repair and Maintenance is also higher, but that is a direct response to the tasks performed from year to year. Conversely, the same expenses from the Repowing Project are below budget expectations. Sales do remain 3.2% higher than 2010. Residential customers are down from last year by 2% and sales to commercial and industrial consumers are up 5% and sales to irrigation customers has increased 24% over 2010.
Four area youth have been employed in various capacities at the Light Plant for the 5th Summer Youth Program. Tyler Shy is assisting with tree trimming jobs. Cody Harris is performing basic mechanical repairs on plant equipment. Matt Nieschburg is helping to move coal and transport ash and Paloma Douglas with perform basic maintenance duties to prepare for the plant start up later this month. Rigel reminded the board they had approved a scholarship renewal option for those students who received the LUB/ARPA scholarship the previous school year. It gives an additional $500 to each student applicant, and there were two; Antonia Lira, who attends Regis University. She is spending her summer in New Orleans; helping Hurricane Katrina victims rebuild their community. The second is Anna Kuhns who is studying art and psychology at Colorado State University.
By Russ Baldwin