The City Council has granted a four-month extension to large power users in its industrial park before raising their rates based on usage efficiency.
Currently, the city is operating below efficiency standards set by the federal government, according to Jeff Foster, power superintendent.A contract Spanish Fork signed as part of a federal energy conservation program requires the city to maintain a 95 percent efficiency rate, meaning it loses only 5 percent of the power it produces - whether that loss comes from transmission or inefficient power usage from city customers.
"When a motor doesn't operate efficiently, there are iron losses and copper losses, which creates heat," Foster said. "That results in electrical losses in transformers."
Despite installing capacitors on industrial park lines - a project that cost $30,000 - the city is operating at about 86 percent efficiency, and much of that can be attributed to some users in the industrial park, he said.
"Our factor is still way too low in the industrial park, and where Utah Power & Light and others put pressure on their customers, we haven't in the past, so we're correcting that."
That correction will be to start billing users for not only usage rates, but a higher, and undisclosed, amount for their efficiency rate - a move that could make "a significant difference to industrial users," Foster said.
"Hopefully, those businesses will want to correct the problem. We (city officials) don't want to make more money, we just want to get our system up to peak efficiency."
This summer, the council asked businesses to bring their efficiencies on line to the 95 percent mark by at least mid-January. However, officials from Hickory Kist and Spanish Fork Foundry recently met with city officials to ask for corrective suggestions and to show the city that they have been investigating the situation.
Consequently, the council last week gave the larger industrial users until May - when they receive April billings - to correct the deficiencies.
"They're currently being billed on their efficiency, but it's such a minute amount that I don't think they consider it to be a deterrent," Foster said. "However, when the new billing starts, if some users haven't corrected their problems, they will be deterred."
Foster suggests that the businesses consider installing capacitors similar to those the city installed on the lines, which will correct the disparity between voltage and current.
"Basically, if they can install a capacitor on each motor - one that can correct the deficiency on each motor - that will bring them up close to 100 percent efficiency."
Also, that move would "make their motors run cooler and a lot more efficiently, and would benefit them in lower power costs and less machinery wear and tear," he said. "And it will get us up where we should be."