Bay City looks to Gratiot County wind farm for renewable energy

August 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

View full sizeBay City Commissioners are scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, for a regular session at the Pere Marquette Depot, 1000 Adams St.

BAY CITY, MI — Bay City is looking to buy a chunk of its electric power from a Gratiot County wind-turbine farm.

The Bay City Commission on Monday, Aug. 19, will hear a presentation outlining a proposal to buy $18 million in electricity generated by the wind farm during the next 20 years.

Bay City Electric, Light Power has to comply with a state mandate to provide at least 10 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2015. The utility has 20,200 customers.

Phil Newton, the city’s electric utility director, will discuss a resolution to buy that power from the Beebe Community Wind Farm near Ithaca. The City Commission meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Pere Marquette Depot, 1000
Adams St.

“This particular thing looked like a good deal,” Newton said. “It is
renewable, and it’s a lot lower cost than what we’ve been seeing from
wind developers.”

Other communities already purchasing Beebe’s wind farm energy include Holland. In March, the West Michigan community joined
four other member utilities of the Michigan Public Power Agency in
purchasing 26.4 megawatts of power from Beebe. Holland signed on for
16.8 megawatts.

The agreement under review indicates Bay City
would purchase 4.8 megawatts through the MPPA, a supply agency the city
and other smaller municipalities belong to as a group. The initial year will cost Bay City about $45 a megawatt hour, for a total of $700,000.

Newton said the city’s 2013 average cost to purchase power was $59 a megawatt hour. Landfill gases run at $85 a megawatt hour and coal-based power costs the city about $54 per megawatt hour, he said.

The cost of the wind-turbine energy increases during the 20-year term of the contract up to about $72 per megawatt hour in the final year.

At the residential level, Newtown said Bay City’s electricity customers now pay an average of $60 a month for up to 700 kilowatt hours. Since the state set up renewable energy mandates in 2008, those costs have probably hiked “a percent or two,” he said.

The move toward the use of more renewable energy sources was triggered
by Public Act 295 – known as the Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy

If costs do increase further due to renewable energy purchasing, Newton said his agency couldn’t enforce an increase of more than $3 a month.

Lori Dufresne, the city’s 4th Ward commissioner, said she reviewed the proposed resolution earlier this week. She’s not sure how she’ll vote.

“I’m looking at the price range and the low end of the price range is lower than we had originally anticipated,” she said.

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