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Rochelle officials announce multi-million dollar savings due to electric generation

Posted: Monday, Feb 13th, 2017

Superintendent of Electric Operations Jason Bird introduced new employee Toby Lindeland at Monday evening's Rochelle City Council meeting. Lindeland brings with him 25 years of experience, previously working for the city of Princeton.

ROCHELLE — Rochelle City Manager David Plyman and Superintendent of Electric Operations Jason Bird announced the city saved about $2.5 million through the city’s electric generation this past year.

The announcement came during the Rochelle City Council meeting Monday evening after receiving word from IMPA, the city’s consulting firm, about a month ago. Had there not been a cost savings from the electrical generation, these expenses would have been passed along to the consumer.

“This year we saved our customers about $2.5 million by having generation available,” Bird said. “It’s not cash coming back to us, but we would have spent that money in capacity charges and transmission charges had we not used our units to shave peak.”

In order to satisfy the higher electricity demands during the hot summer months, the entire electrical infrastructure is built to accommodate the peaks. Several large engines are used to produce the needed additional electricity during the peak summer months.

“We make our own power so we don’t have to rely on the grid to satisfy our peak. It’s cheaper for us to make our peak than it is to buy the capacity outside of Rochelle,” Plyman said.

During the higher demand, the engines are operated to curb the expenses associated with peak operating times when many customers are utilizing air conditioning. These same engines are available to provide power if the grid were to malfunction.

“If we lose power, if the transmission system fails and there is no power coming to Rochelle, we can at least make our own power,” Plyman said.

City council approved an emergency purchase from Fairbanks Morse Engine for replacement parts to rebuild a peaker engine, used in electric generation, at a cost of $165,612. During routine maintenance, metal shavings were discovered and after further inspection it was determined that both the pistons and linings need to be replaced.

“According to IMPA (our consultant that coordinates with PJM to determine when we should generate power), this engine saved the city a total of $179,419 last year,” Plyman said.

Both Plyman and Bird acknowledged that as long as parts are available, it should be rebuilt.

“It’s important to keep using these…obviously there is going to be a time when we will have to pull the plug but as long as we have the parts and we’ve got the staff to get those installed, it’s worth using them,” Bird said. “It’s important to let our customers know it is a huge asset to the community.”

For the complete article see the 02-14-2017 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-14-2017 paper.

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