BPU Electric Division Reports Good Performance During Storm

Jamestown Board of Public Utilities officials said Friday that the S.A. Carlson Power Plant and the Electric distribution system performed extremely well during the recent polar vortex and saved significant money for all electric customers during the cold snap earlier this week.

“Utilizing our LM6000 gas turbine in combined cycle mode, as planned during the time period,” said David L. Leathers, BPU general manager. “The power plant was able to produce an average of 52 megawatts of power throughout the period, which met the average customer power need (in addition to the hydropower allotment) of 24 megawatts.”

“It cost the BPU approximately $37 per megawatt to produce the power we needed,” Leathers continued. “Compared to the average $160 per megawatt it would have cost the BPU to purchase the power off the grid at that time. This money savings will translate into normal and typical fuel costs for our customers in their February bills (as reflected in the Fuel Adjustment Cost line). In other words, a sharp spike in February electric rates, that would have occurred had the LM6000 not operated as planned, was avoided.”

Leathers noted that the BPU surprisingly did not set a new peak for electric usage during the cold spell. Overall customer electric usage rose as high as 97.842 megawatts, which was close to the BPU record peak of 99.991 megawatts set in February 2007. Historically, the BPU has not surpassed that 2007 peak figure.

Not only did the LM600 Gas Turbine perform well in terms of electrical production, BPU officials said, but also, it provided a record high of 70 million BTUs for the BPU District Heating system. The district heat system also worked well during this time period.

In addition, the electric transmission and distribution system itself maintained strong performance and reliability during the three-day period, with only a few minor outages.

The Water Division experienced several water main breaks as a result of extreme temperatures causing frozen ground to shift into water lines. Water crews have worked around the clock to serve the customers in this very cold weather.

“Our BPU employees did a great job during this challenging time of frigid weather, including our Solid Waste and Wastewater employees,” Leathers said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the work all of our employees did to serve our customers.”