Commissioners with the Laurens Commission of Public Works voted Monday evening to allow CPW General Manager John Young to make a request of Laurens City Council regarding a Piedmont Municipal Power Agency contract.
The commissioners took action following a lengthy executive session, voting to request that Young ask city council for the authority to cancel the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency supplemental power contract “if conditions warrant.”
The contract pertains to the way PMPA, a wholesale provider of electricity to 10 member cities, buys supplemental electricity when the power available from the Catawba Nuclear Plant is insufficient for its needs. The agreement would specifically allow Young to cancel that supplemental power contract.
PMPA’s primary power comes from the Catawba Nuclear Plant but sometimes that is not enough to serve all 10 member cities, and in those times, LCPW relies on the supplemental power contract PMPA has with Santee Cooper’s Rainey Plant near Anderson.
It might not be needed, Young said.
The action would only take place if the current situation requires it, said Young. In order to end the contract, the member city must provide a 10-year notice to Piedmont Municipal Power Agency. The primary contract, which requires the 10 original member cities cover debt service and operation costs of the nuclear plant in addition to purchased power, is not negotiable and must remain intact until the debt service is competed in 2035.
However, in late 2018, PMPA members Rock Hill, Greer and Westminster gave notice of their intention to pull out of the supplemental power contract in 2029, and it’s put the other cities on edge.
At PMPA meetings since mid summer, serious discussions and disagreements on potential rate structure changes have resulted in a lawsuit by Laurens and three other member-cities against other members, including Clinton, and the organization.
This supplemental power contract issue is not directly involving that lawsuit, however, but it is yet another concern based on the three other member cities’ moves. If other PMPA members also begin pulling out of the supplemental contract, Laurens will need to be in a position to act quickly.
“I plan to attend the Laurens City Council meeting this afternoon and go over this request in executive session,” Young said Tuesday morning. “There are a number of factors that would necessitate canceling this contract and it primarily depends on what the other members of PMPA decide to do.”
With 10 years to prepare, Young said the CPW is not concerned about finding a new source of power for those times when supplemental power is required. The vote Monday evening simply allows Young to move quickly in the event the action becomes necessary.
“This contract requires a 10-year notice so it wouldn’t be effective until 2029,” Young said. “If canceled, it basically means that after 2029, PMPA or some subset of PMPA would have to find another source for supplemental power.”