A Question and Answer Basic Outline of Baldwin City’s Wholesale Energy and Electric Production Systems
So where does Baldwin City actually get its electricity from?
Baldwin City has a diverse mix of generation types in our portfolio including, Coal, Natural Gas, Diesel, Wind, and Hydro.
We purchase about 74% of our wholesale energy from the Grand River Dam Athority,12% from the Marshall Wind Farm,5% from KCP&L, 5% from the Western Area Power Administration,3% from the Spot Market, and the remaining 1% comes from the Southwest Power Administration and In-House Generation.
KCP&L also supplies Baldwin with use of their transmission lines to import power from the purchase agreements listed above.
I thought Baldwin City had a Power Plant?
Baldwin City does own and operate two generating plants, however, the cost of producing power internally is significantly higher. For example, the average cost year to date of purchasing power through our wholesale contracts listed above is $.0484 cents per Kilowatt Hour.
In Comparison, our In-House generation while running on natural gas comes in at around $0 .0670 cents per kilowatt hour. When the units are running during an outage, or an anticipated outage, they use straight diesel at cost of $0.2049 cents per kilowatt/hour.
So when do you run the Power Plant?
Baldwin’s generators are not base load units, they are peaking units. They are designed to shave peak load during high use times, and can be utilized as emergency back up during times when we lose power from the KCP&L tie line. That doesn’t mean they can’t run for extended periods of time, however the associated cost as shown above prohibits this.
Baldwin’s generation and how its’ utilized has evolved through several decades of load following contracts with KCP&L. Today we operate in the “Day Ahead” or “Day 2” market. Our newest units (7 & 8) located at the new power plant are registered with the Southwest Power Pool. SPP now oversees the entire transmission and distribution grid in our area, and is the dispatching authority for all power plants large and small.
SPP has capacity and heat rate data on each of the registered units within its territory including large coal or gas plants like KCP&L, right down to the peaking units like Baldwin’s 7 & 8. They know what each unit is capable of producing and the associated cost. They dispatch units based on hourly loads as well as forecasted peaks for day ahead. Baldwin units run when directed to do so by SPP, however, we can self-schedule ourselves anytime for testing or during an emergency situation.
Does Baldwin sell the power it generates in the open market?
No, Baldwin City does not generate power to sell in the open market, and never has. In the early 2000’s our load following contract with KCP&L allowed us to sell off excess BPU Nearman energy when it was available, and we have sold excess capacity to the City of Gardner in past summers, but NONE of the energy generated by Baldwin units ever leaves the City limits. We never cross the threshold, meaning we never push anything back onto KCP&L’s system. They don’t want the energy, and it would create a whole new set of issues for them and us as we would have to trust their relays on their lines to operate correctly in an emergency situation to protect our equipment.
Why don’t we staff the plant 24/7?
The short answer is economics. Baldwin City currently has 2 plant operators that maintain and manage both power plants. Back in the late 80’s, Baldwin had 8 power plant operators and was staffed 24/7. Through the 90’s and early 2000’s many of the original plant operators retired and were not replaced. Baldwin’s electric utility has gone through many changes over the years. One of which is that we now have two primary feeders that can supply Baldwin’s electric load from two different directions; West Gardner, and South Ottawa, which greatly reduces the risk of losing grid power for extended periods of time. Last weekends’ outages were a prime example as the West Gardner Feeder was damaged due to some broken poles. KCP&L placed us on South Ottawa until the repairs could be made.
Baldwin City is a Municipal Owned Utility. It exists to provide a public service to the citizens by way of long-term community goals, local control, local regulation, and higher standards of reliability.
Municipal utilities are located within their community and are readily available to serve customers, unlike Investor Owned Utilities, which are operated for the benefit of stockholders who may live hundreds of miles away and have little interest in the community.
Local ownership means that customers’ utility dollars stay in the community, creating jobs and supporting the local economy.