EPA regulations are moving the City of Delta's municipal power plant closer to "museum" status, utilities director Steve Glammeyer reports.
Last summer, city council moved four of the plant's seven engines to emergency status, rather than retrofit the non-compliant engines at an estimated cost of $210,000 to $262,000 each.
That left three of the smaller engines, which the city has been using to generate electricity for the grid under a contract with the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN), the city's power supplier.
Now those engines are also being impacted by EPA rules targeted at reducing emissions. Compliance testing alone will run $9,000 a year, Glammeyer said. The compensation from MEAN for generating electricity is just $6,300, and Glammeyer said he expects that rate to be cut substantially in the near future.
The other change, Glammeyer explained, requires non-emergency engines to have a crankcase filter to block oil particulates from entering the atmosphere. An engineer would have to be consulted to determine if that modification is even possible due to the age of the engines, Glammeyer said.
While staff and council members have previously recognized the value of having a backup source of electricity, the transmission project that's about to be completed dramatically reduces the chances of a citywide power outage.
"The cost is starting to outweigh any compensation we might receive," Glammeyer said. "You'll soon see power plants like ours go away."
Council members agreed with Glammeyer's recommendation to place all the plant engines on emergency status and to move forward with a performance evaluation that will help clarify the plant's future.
The two oldest engines in the plant date from 1935 and 1936. Over the next 20 years, five additional engines were added as demand for electricity increased in the growing community. In the late '60s, it was determined it would be more cost effective to purchase power than to generate it, plus it was getting more difficult to meet demand. Under emergency status, the generators can be run for 50 hours a year for maintenance and during widespread power outages as needed.blog comments powered by Disqus