Agreement could help keep city power costs down

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By Tom Wilmoth

In an effort to help keep the cost of electricity stable for the next several years, Bedford City Council authorized a contract Wednesday in which it will team with 78 other cities to purchase power.

Also on Wednesday, council approved changes to the rear parking lot of the former Hunan Restaurant building, which will allow American National Bank & Trust Company to put in a drive-in area.

Following a public hearing on the power agreement, in which no one spoke, council voted 6-0 to enter into a power sales contract with American Municipal Power?Ohio, Inc. The group of municipalities agree to purchase 368 megawatts of power from a 1600 megawatt electric generating station, referred to as the Prairie State Energy Campus.

What this means, according to City Manager Charles Kolakowski, is that the city will be purchasing power five years from now for the same amount it is paying today.

"We're hoping that by having this long-term deal..., we'll be able to stabilize just a portion of the cost," Kolakowski said. " It's not a guarantee. It's just an effort to do everything we can to keep the costs lower."

Kolakowski said energy prices won't go down. "I don't see it happening for any kind of energy," he said.

The generating station will be located near Lively Grove, Ill., consisting of two 800 MW coal-fired, steam generators. The plant, which is currently under construction, is expected to be in operation with the first unit in 2011.

Under the 50-year contract, the city will purchase wholesale electric power and energy equal to about 7.9 megawatts per hour. A megawatt is equal to 1 million watts.

The city's payments would be made from revenues of its electric system and would range from $3 million in 2013 to $4.8 million in 2032. Estimates beyond that have not yet been made.

Council also voted unanimously Wednesday to agree to allow American National Bank & Trust Company to use a portion of the city parking lot property.

Owen Holding L.L.C. has purchased the property on North Bridge Street which formerly contained the Hunan Restaurant. That restaurant was damaged in a fire.

The property borders the city parking lot to the north between the former restaurant on the south and the railroad track and property on the north. Owen has also purchased a lot which runs between the west end of the city parking lot property and Depot Street.

The property owner has reached a lease agreement with American National Bank & Trust Company which proposes to build the drive-in area leading from the additional back lot of Owen's eastward and then northward into the city parking lot.

The proposed use will result in the elimination of two parking spaces on the south side of the city parking lot and the use of the aisle down the middle of the lot. Owen and the bank have agreed to pave the western end of the city parking lot tract, creating at least four additional parking spaces to make up for those that are being eliminated by the bank's proposed use. Also the parking spaces in the city lot will be remarked and there will be curb and gutter improvements made.