STORY FROM 14 WFIE NEWS
The Owensboro Municipal Utilities board voted to approve a contract to purchase power from Big Rivers Electric Corporation.
Officials at OMU said they were looking for a low cost, low risk way to provide for their customers and the agreement with Big Rivers Electric Corporation was the way to go.
“What we wanted to do was remove as much risk and price reliability and reliability of services as we could, and we were able to do that with this agreement,” said Sonya Dixon, the public relations manager for Owensboro Municipal Utilities.
The six-year deal the companies agreed to comes with a fixed costs for OMU to pay and will allow the company to research other renewable energy sources for the future. In addition to passing the agreement with Big Rivers, OMU also presented a recommendation to look for a low cost solar energy provider to add on to the power they will purchase from Big Rivers.
According to officials, the fixed costs coupled with the closing of the Elmer Smith Station power plant will go along way in stabilizing prices for customers. Kevin Frizzell, the general manager of OMU explained that with a fixed cost they can better control the price they charge their customers and as their costs of maintaining the Elmer Smith Station cease they can lower that price.
“You know other things will be going up. We know everything, prices go up, but what it will allow us to do is stabilize our rates so that we won’t be seeing these rate increases that we’ve had the last few years,” said Frizzell.
Frizzell did acknowledge that the lower prices does come at a costs, namely in the form of jobs.
“This is good news for our customers but there’s always a component of something that’s negative. That’s the big negative,” said Frizzell. “We have good employees that have dedicated themselves to working for this community that are going to lose their jobs at some point.”
Officials at OMU say that the closing of the Elmer Smith Station plant has been on the cards for a while, and because of that they’ve taken extra measures to limit the number of jobs that will be lost when the plant closes.
“All along we’ve had retirements, we’ve had positions that are vacated, so through attrition we have not been back filling those because we did not want to have – we wanted to affect as few employees as we possibly could,” said Dixon.
The Elmer Smith Station power plant is set to close in 2020.