UAMPS (the organization from which the city of Morgan purchases electrical power) presented at the Morgan City Council meeting on Tuesday. The subject of the presentation is a project underway with UAMPS to provide electrical power generated with renewable energy.
The UAMPS has purchased 17,000 acres in Idaho, South of Idaho Falls. They are in the first stages of building a wind farm. The total cost of the project is approximately $268 million dollars. The project will construct 56 wind-powered turbines. Each of these turbines will generate about 1.8 megawatts of power.
The wind turbines have blades that are 100 meters in diameter. They are mounted on hubs that sit 95 meters off of the ground. They are being built in an area where wind has been being measured for many years so there are good projections on the amount of power that will be produced. The customers of UAMP have the option of participating in the project. Morgan City is considering whether they should participate.
This project is part of a new generation of renewable power generation projects. The combination of grants from the government for renewable energy projects and low interest financing have made possible competitively priced power from this wind generated renewable energy project.
Renewable power projects have, in the past, generally cost significantly more than power generated from coal fired plants or natural gas plants. The current cost of power from these UAMPS plants is between 5 and 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour for coal and between 6.5 and 7 cents per kilowatt hour for natural gas. Environmental requirements are slowly causing coal plants to close. This wind project is projected to produce power at approximately 6.5 cents per kilowatt making it a competitive alternative.
If Morgan City decides to participate it will be with a twenty-year commitment. Cities that choose to participate commit to purchase power from the project for that period. If the project is not successful, the city would still have a requirement to pay for the portion of their commitment over the next twenty years.
Renewable power is becoming increasingly used by virtually every power generation company. In areas like California, businesses have incentives to use clean power. This project seems to be a part of a growing trend that is making renewable energy cost efficient and practical. UAMPS has asked Morgan City to make a decision on participating by the end of September.