Morgan City Council OKs LEPA power sales contract
MORGAN CITY, La. — The city council approved the final form of the power sales contract Wednesday between the city and the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority to begin issuing bonds for the natural gas power plant scheduled to be complete by October 2015 in Morgan City.
The ordinance was up for public hearing Wednesday at a special council meeting.
Resident Pat Cloutier said there has not been enough discussion on the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority plant coming to Morgan City, and that natural gas may not be the most efficient power source years down the road.
Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said the city will have a debt service of about $1 million per year through 2044 from its 10-megawatt share of the 64-megawatt plant.
The lowest bid to complete the project is $124 million, and the city’s share of that cost is $19.4 million, Grizzaffi said.
The city would be able to draw on power from the new plant and about 20 megawatts from LEPA’s Rodemacher Plant in Lena. The city could also get power through the grid. The city’s power usage peaks at about 47 megawatts.
Cloutier said he is not against building the plant, but there should be some open discussions about the plant.
The ordinance could have been brought up at a regular council meeting where there would have been more people to discuss it, Cloutier said.
Cloutier said several cities have dropped out of the project. Abbeville, St. Martinville and Welsh are among the communities that have dropped out of the project in the past few months. The communities that have signed on to the project in addition to Morgan City include Plaquemine, Rayne, Vidalia, Houma and Jonesville.
Councilman Ron Bias said the city is trying to provide power for right now. Bias said the most efficient form of energy may not be natural gas in 20 years, but the city can address that issue if and when it occurs.
Councilman Louis Tamporello said, “What we’re looking to do is plan for our future, keep our fuel costs in line ... and be able to provide cost-efficient, reliable fuel for our energy purposes here in Morgan City.”
Grizzaffi said, “The Rodemacher bond issue is at its end. That was right at $900,000 (for the city) so we’re kind of washing on the debt,” Grizzaffi said of the Rodemacher plant, which was built 30 years ago.
Building the plant in Morgan City is a “roll of the dice” to stabilize the city’s power costs in the long-term, Grizzaffi said.
Earlier this month, LEPA board member and former Morgan City Mayor Tim Matte said the bond sale for the new power plant is scheduled to begin Sept. 23 and if everything goes according to schedule, construction could start in April 2014.