ACA.lusirp.01.063020

Lafayette Utilities System lineman Kurt Babineaux tranfers live power lines to a new pole Wednesday, November 6, 2019, on Ridge Road in Lafayette, La.

Results of a study looking at the future of Lafayette Utilities System will be presented to the public Tuesday during an online webinar, with residents allowed to submit questions and comments.

The city-owned utility system in September kicked off the Integrated Resource Planning process which was expected to last about a year.

A report on the study to be presented Tuesday suggests LUS should continue to include fuel sources such as natural gas in its energy production portfolio, but should utilize more low-cost renewable energy sources as well. 

The Rodemacher 2 coal-powered electrical generating plant should be phased out by 2027, the study recommends, due to rising costs associated with meeting environmental regulations as well as operating and maintenance costs. Retiring the plant would require concurrence from co-owners Cleco and the Louisiana Energy Power Authority, environmental regulators and others.

If the Rodemacher plant is eliminated, the study suggests, LUS should consider a self-build simple cycle gas turbine. The study recommends LUS start engineering studies to determine whether LUS' retired Doc Bonin plant can be repurposed for that use.

Before making any decisions regarding long-term power, though, the study suggests city leaders consider power purchase agreements as an alternative to the self-build option. LUS currently purchases some of its electricity through the Midcontinent Independent System Operator group.

The study recommends LUS add more renewable energy, particularly solar power, to its power purchases.

Following the virtual meeting, LUS officials will continue to solicit feedback and answer questions from the public until July 15, Jeffrey Stewart, LUS energy and power supply manager, said. Afterward, LUS will publish the full IRP report.

LUS intends to pursue three action items recommended in the study, Stewart said. The first, which can begin immediately, is to study whether the Doc Bonin plant, retired in April 2017, can be reused.

"There still exists natural gas supply and a major electric substation," he said in an email. "LUS will assess the viability of reusing that site for future generation options."

The next, Stewart said, is to solicit proposals for solar purchase power agreements.

"Ideally, we would have a contract in place by the end of 2020," Stewart said. "Depending on the responses received, the actual energy delivery may not come until a later date once the facility is constructed and commissioned."

The final recommendation is to retire the Rodemacher 2 coal-burning plant. Decisions on how to replace it, he said, will come later.

The virtual meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Residents may participate via https://bit.ly/2NApenM. Questions you want answered during the meeting may be sent to irpfeedback@lus.org.


Email Claire Taylor at ctaylor@theadvocate.com.