Murray Power amps up for summer demandMay 30, 2022 04:46PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
Last year, Murray City Power warned city leaders that a prolonged drought could compromise the company’s hydroelectric supply. With Lake Powell’s water line hovering 35 feet above Glen Canyon Dam’s intake valve, that time has come, and the company has plans to avert a loss critical to its portfolio.
“We have known for several seasons that the level of Lake Powell was receding and was not rebounding. Murray City Power has a diverse resource portfolio. It is times like this when we can mix and match (or move) our resources around to cover one resource’s deficiency. That is the case this year as Murray City Power closely monitors its summer load,” Murray City Power General Manager Blaine Haacke said.
Murray City Power typically receives about 30% of its energy from the Colorado River Storage Project a federally owned and operated resource whose largest power producer is the Glen Canyon Dam. This spring’s inflow into Lake Powell is expected to be 66% of normal.
“Not good,” Haacke said.
With advance notice to other utilities, Murray City Power has ordered/scheduled power from one of its power plants near Delta, Utah. The Intermountain Power Plant is a massive coal-fired power plant that Murray City Power has a 4% entitlement. This summer, Murray City Power has scheduled 19 megawatts of capacity and energy from this power plant. The energy will be delivered beginning July 1 and continue through September 30.
In 2021, Murray had to switch on its gas turbines in June earlier than typical after hot weather caused customers to turn on their air conditioning. Murray City Power intends to use the three gas turbine generators (33 MW), especially from June through September. However, natural gas prices have risen dramatically due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We bought sufficient gas to operate the turbines as a normal year would dictate. Since our purchase months ago, natural gas prices have increased 75%, an amount that probably won’t go down much this summer. This pre-purchase locked-in price for gas will be very advantageous to the cost of producing energy this summer. There may be some hours that Murray City Power might need to purchase natural gas at the existing market price, but for the most part, we made a judicious decision last fall,” Haacke said.
So, should Murray Power customers be prepared for brownouts this year?
“With the diverse mix of energy options, Murray City Power is well situated to cover any increase in electricity needs. Albeit sometimes we may have to dip into the ‘market’ or regional energy hub to purchase some energy. But those hours will be few and far between. The projections are for higher pricing on the market for all utilities this summer,” Haacke said.
Murray City Power recently agreed to obtain five MW of a large-scale solar plant. This plant, located in the Four Corners area of the state, is under construction and scheduled for completion in November 2022. This solar resource will be added to the city’s mix this winter. The company is also investigating two other large-scale solar plants in Utah and a geothermal fueled plant in central Utah. Also, the city is considering the expansion of an additional unit at one of its landfill plants. As a result, the IPP units will play an increasing role in its needs.
“The IPP Plant is undergoing a metamorphous of sorts as the coal-fired plant is being replaced with two natural gas 420 MW units. This is ongoing. Eventually, the intent is to mix hydrogen with natural gas for an even more environmentally-friendly plant. The hydrogen will be manufactured on-site and stored in a salt cavern on the IPP property. This is a huge project that Murray City Power is excited to be a part of. This will be operational in 2025,” Haacke said.
The company asks its customers to conserve electricity, which can help save on power bills. Murray Power’s conservation tips can be found at murray.utah.gov/1271/Energy-Conservation-Efficiency.