Residents expecting to see black smoke rising from the city's power plant stacks when the plant comes back into operation this summer may be waiting quite awhile.
The city plans to follow recommendations of a study and use natural gas instead of coal to operate its 7.5-megawatt turbine.The city Energy Board reviewed the report at its monthly meeting Tuesday, agreeing that the recommendations should be followed.
The power plant study - done by Burns and McDonnell, a Kansas City, Mo., engineering firm - recommends that $250,000 be spent on rebuilding the turbine and that the city overhaul its 10 megawatts of diesel generators.
According to George Morse, supervisor at the power plant, the rehabilitation project will give the city 10 more years of turbine use. The city recently spent $150,000 to revitalize the plant's generator.
The rehabilitation project will save the city considerable money, he said. For 7.5 megawatts of power generated at the Provo plant, the city will pay only $240 per kilowatt instead of $1,750, the cost of power generated at a new facility.
The study also recommends that the city get rid of three small 6.5-megawatt turbines. The turbines are more than 40 years old, haven't been used for power production in 13 years and are no longer listed as power generators for the city.
Morse said the life expectancy of the turbines is approximately 30 years. "We have more than recouped our investment."
The City Council will be asked to declare the turbines as surplus.
The study also recommended that the city sell its coal pile as soon as possible to get rid of coal runoff and the environmental problems that come with it.
The plant is expected to be up and running by June 1, Morse said. The plant presently generates power for peaking times, but once it is on line it will generate the Utah Municipal Power Agency.
The study was commissioned by UMPA in September. The agency officially adopted the study Dec. 21. UMPA is owned by Provo, Spanish Fork, Salem, Nephi, Levan and Manti.
"We wholeheartedly support it," said Richard Judd, general manager of UMPA. "It was accepted unanimously to move forward with it and use it as a guide."
Morse said he is already in the process of implementing the study.
The rehabilitation project only adds 10 more operating years to the plant, but it will buy the city some time before future power generation is needed, he said. In the meantime the city will look into replacing the old turbine with a combustion turbine.
"The power industry is in a period of change. There is new technology every day," said Ron Rydman, acting director of the city's energy department. "This type of report helps steer us in the right direction."