The City Council has voted to spend $1,000 to study two proposals the city power chief says could save power users money and assure a future of low-cost power.
Bountiful is one of 35 cities that belongs to the Utah Associated Municipalities Power Systems, which has recently come across two offers.The first is an option to buy a 54-megawatt share in the Southwest Transmission Line owned by Utah Power & Light Co.
That line runs from the Intermountain Power Project plant near Mona, Juab County, to central and southwestern Utah.
Because UAMPS schedules transmission for all its members as a group, buying into the Southwest line would benefit most members, said Cliff Michaelis, manager of Bountiful Light and Power Department.
"If we can lower the overall cost of transmission (for all of UAMPS), then we can lower our (city's) transmission costs."
Michaelis, however, said he is not certain how much of a savings the project would bring to ratepayers. "That's one of the things the study will find."
The second proposal is an option to purchase up to 54 megawatts of electricity from Public Service Co. of New Mexico, which has a surplus of power generated from its San Juan unit No. 4, located between Shiprock and Farmington, N.M.
Michaelis said the New Mexico company's offer is "the lowest power supply offer we have seen in several years."
Providing 2-4 megawatts to Bountiful, the proposal would sell power for 4 cents per kilowatt hour, 1 cent lower than power currently being sold by IPP.
Though it's a relatively cheap source of fossil-fuel generated electricity, the San Juan power would be used only if Bountiful needs it.
Almost all of Bountiful's power demand, which peaks at 47 megawatts on any given day, is currently served by hydroelectric projects on the Colorado River.
The San Juan power would lower the city's dependence on "spot-market" power purchases, which are not always available and subject to dramatic price fluctuations.
"It's ownership vs. renting," Michaelis said. "(The San Juan power) would give us a better mix of resources."
The Bountiful City Council approved two $500 contributions to the two $10,000 studies, which are to determine whether the proposals are financially viable and whether the cities can afford them.