March 1, 2012

Vacaville to begin negotiations with wind power firm

By Kimberley K. Fu, The Reporter, 1 March 2012

Wind turbines in Vacaville?

That could soon be a reality, as the City Council on Tuesday authorized City Manager Laura Kuhn to enter into negotiations with Foundation Windpower LLC to buy electrical power for the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Cost savings have been critical in recent years, officials said, and reducing energy costs could have a major savings impact.

Foundation and Synergetics LLC both approached the city about placing windmills in and around Easterly, which city officials said in a staff report “operates 24 hours per day, 365 days per year and uses approximately 13,500 megawatt hours … of electricity per year, with a peak instantaneous usage of approximately 1.6 megawatts.” Electricity is now bought from Pacific Gas and Electric, costing about $1.4 million annually.

In proposals submitted by both wind power companies, the city would pay no costs for the design, permitting or installation of wind turbines.

Foundation officials say they will build one 1.6-megawatt, 265-foot-tall wind turbine at Easterly. Power generated by the turbine would cost a fixed price of .059 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for power, with annual escalations, and see savings to the city’s Wastewater Fund of up to $77,000 per year.

Synergetics, meanwhile, would build 33, 120-foot-tall turbines on private property near Elmira. Together, the turbines would produce an estimated 1 mega-watt of electricity. The power would cost a variable price of 10 percent
below the prevailing PG&E rate, currently .1142 per kilowatthour (kWh). The proposed project, at .1028 per kWh, could save the city’s Wastewater Fund up to $11,400 per year in energy costs, officials said.

Ultimately, the council decided to go with Foundation but told Synergetics that all was not lost for them.

Synergetics officials agreed, countering that there was room enough in Vacaville for both companies to exist. They said they would maintain communication with city staff.

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