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Chambersburg Council eyes new power plant

April 17, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council is to decide next month whether to go ahead with a plan to build a new power plant, which could cost between $14 and $36 million.

Electrical consultants from Downes Associates, Inc., have been studying for more than a year if the borough should add to its 7.5 megawatt generation capacity as it considers a new wholesale electrical supply contract.

Company president George Owens and Alexander Grier, vice president, briefed the council Tuesday on bids they have received for the project.

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They presented six proposals for wholesale power supply and will come back with a recommendation next month. The borough currently purchases its electricity from Allegheny Power Systems. That contract ends Nov. 30.

The consultants said they are still evaluating the wholesale power bids and five design and construction proposals for a 20- to 25-megawatt facility. They did not recommend one over the other because they said there are still too many variables to compare.

The council started considering building its own facility last year as a way to offer better reliability and control for the borough. It would also be a prudent move for the borough because power costs will only go up, Owens said.

"Forecasts are prices will rise indefinitely," he said.

He said it is necessary to continue to add generation to prevent the skyrocketing costs and shortages California faced a year ago.

Owens and Grier will be back before the council on May 14 with a recommendation, and asked for a decision by the end of May in order to sign a contract.

If the borough stays on that timeline, the new power plant would be up and running by June 2003, Owens said.

The borough's current electrical generation capacity covers the need generated during peak times, like hot summer days. The proposed station would cover the variable usage on any given day, allowing the borough to enter into a wholesale power agreement to purchase just its basic power load, which is very low risk, Grier said.

Grier estimated it would cost the borough about $22 million to build the facility and contract the labor and equipment as opposed to hiring one company to design and build the entire facility, providing its own equipment and labor.

Those prices ranged from $13.9 million for one proposal by Solar Turbines to $35.9 million for one proposal by Allegheny Energy Systems and Encompass, Grier said.

He said factors such as fuel use and efficiency will also have to be factored into the decision.

The consultants also narrowed in on a potential site for a power plant.

They said a tract in the Chambers-5 Business Park along the railroad tracks between Sheffler and Nitterhouse drives would be the best place because of its access to all utilities.

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