DPU set to present the future of power

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Lab, county work on utilities plan

By Tris DeRoma

As a couple of major developments in Los Alamos County’s power supply looms,  Department of Public Utilities officials will have a discussion with the public this week on the future of the county’s power supply.

DPU officials will be presenting details of a plan of what that future may look like during a townhall-style meeting at the White Rock Public Library on Wednesday.

“I want to stress that this is a plan, that these are just recommendations. This is not something that the Board (of Public Utilities) and County Council actually adopt,” Utilities Manager Tim Glasco said. “This is just advice from experts to help us use that information for making decisions in the future on what resources we’re going to buy and and how we’re going to run things.”

The pending retirement of power plants in DPU’s supply chain that no longer keep up with the market, the uncertain viability of new nuclear technology and the uncertain future of an energy agreement between the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the DPU are driving factors behind the report.

Currently, the DPU  and the Los Alamos National Laboratory are partners in the Energy Coordination Agreement, in which the utilities department and the laboratory contribute a relative amount of resources to help maintain and supply power to the lab and the county. The lab uses 80 percent of that power supply and the county uses 20 percent. The agreement, which was created in 1985, is set to expire in 2025.

While a new agreement is expected to be worked out before then, the utilities department, at the request of its board, put together a report that contains a variety of options on what the power supply may look like under a new agreement with the lab, and possibly how the county’s power supply may look like without it.

The problem with the 1985 agreement is that much has changed since 1985. The old agreement does not contain any renewable energy requirements, and the document also contains provisions that are no longer allowed under federal procurement regulations.

“I don’t think anyone’s trying to kill it, but it is going to have to be morphed into a different form than it is now,” Glasco said.

Glasco is hopeful this will happen, but also said that the DOE has opted not to include the county in recent resource planning meetings, preferring instead to concentrate on just LANL’s future needs.

While Wednesday’s presentation will contain energy options that provide for a new energy agreement with the lab and one without, the report provides a good starting point either way, Glasco said.

“There are a lot of ways we can negotiate a new agreement that will be very beneficial to both parties,” Glasco said. “This gives us a starting point in the roadmap to the next energy coordination agreement.”

The actual plan is expected to be released sometime next week and will be posted on the Department of Public Utilities’ web page at losalamosnm.us.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the White Rock Public Library on 10 Sherwood Boulevard.

The Department of Public Utilities is expected to present a finalized report to the Board of Public Utilities July 21.