Power saving idea gets green light from council
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 10:18 am
The Town of Black Diamond is looking to assume power over its electricity costs.
Installing solar panels and purchasing energy-efficient equipment didn’t lower the town’s power bill as electricity costs continued to rise the past five years, but Town of Black Diamond Parks and Recreation Manager Les Quinton said he has a potential solution.
With the Town’s existing power contract ending on Dec. 31, Quinton began researching cheaper alternatives and found a Calgary consultant who could save the Town $40,000 a year in electricity costs.
“I’ve been out here for almost 16 years and we’ve reduced what we use and our cost is still going up,” he said, adding last year’s power bill for Town facilities was about $110,000. “This is an opportunity to save us some money so it’s certainly worth pursuing.”
Quinton said Energy Associates International purchases power at different times of the year when the prices are lower for one to five years at a time at wholesale prices.
“The consultant will watch the market and make the recommendations when the market is lower so we can get the power at a better price,” he said. “We might buy power for next year or three years in the next month.”
Quinton said Energy Associates International’s employees will assess how much power the Town uses and will manage the Town’s energy needs for them.
“They are purchasing the power for us on our behalf,” he said. “Then it’s delivered to us through the existing systems. There’s more and more people going this way.”
The Town of Okotoks made the same decision in March to use Energy Associates International to access wholesale electricity rates starting in 2014. The change is expected to cut the Town’s power bill by 40 per cent.
Black Diamond council approved Quinton’s request for the Town to sign on with Energy Associates International at its regular meeting on Sept. 18 with the condition the Town’s electricity bills are reviewed by council annually to ensure it is a cost savings.
“If we go with this whole concept and it proves that in two or three years that we are not getting the best prices anymore and the block funding is at a better price can we relook at this?” asked Mayor Sharlene Brown, who was told by Quinton the Town can. “Whoever is on council at that time needs to look at it to make sure this system is working.”
Currently, the Town is allotted a block of power at retail market and if it goes over that amount it’s charged a higher rate, said Quinton.
“We are paying $80.78 per megawatt hour for baseline, then $104.21 for anything over that block and anything over that is spot market,” he said, adding about 18 per cent of the Town’s power bill was at the higher rates. “Where you go over is normally during the day when things are operating.”
Quinton said the wholesale price is currently $63 megawatts per hour, a significant decrease from the $80.78 the Town is paying now. It would amount to about a $40,000 savings annually for Black Diamond.
“Our average for our stuff with the overages is around $90 a megawatt hour,” he said. “If we can get that so we are a constant $63 that would sure make a difference.”
Quinton said Energy Associates International will continuously monitor the Town’s power usage and make recommendations or changes where necessary, Quinton said.
“It seems like a much better deal to go this way,” he said. “It’s a cheaper option.”