The Sevier Board of Education is considering a proposal to buy an interest in a hydroelectric power plant in an effort to save electric energy costs.
Following a presentation by Frank Colby of Current Power Technologies, a Texas firm, some members said they have questions that were not answered to their satisfaction.Superintendent Brent Thorne said the proposition was discussed in executive session with the district's attorney, and school officials will take the rest of the month to study the issue.
Colby told the board the company's offer will be good only until July 31 because of pressing business with school districts in Texas, but he said representatives would return to Utah again in two years to further market the program.
The company also is meeting with North Summit, South Summit, Jordan and Carbon districts. Those districts paying the highest power rates are the first to be contacted and offered ownership in hydroelectric plants, he said.
Sevier District officials reported an attorney with the state's office of education, Blake Ostler, has a "confidential opinion" about the proposal and has drafted an agreement form that Utah school districts can use in joining in the venture.
The Sevier District would get 50 percent ownership in a plant, which would be located near Leamington in Millard County, after 10 years in the program. The company would assume the liabilities. It was also promised that the cost of power through new hydroelectric technology would never exceed more than 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour, the amount the Sevier District is currently paying.
Colby told the board that school districts pay some of the highest power rates in the country and it's his company's goal to help districts cut operating costs. He said the power rate the Sevier School District pays is among the highest in the state.
The representative said the district would realize a 21 percent savings in power costs after 10 years, 38 percent after 20 years and 69 percent in succeeding years. This would be reflected in annual cash returns, which would amount to $6,300 the first year and escalate to $131,000 by the 10th year.
The annual payment for the plant buy-in would be the same as the district pays for its current power costs, amounting to about $275,000.
Power would be wheeled across existing power lines owned by other utilities, Colby said.
Water rights and permits are among the principal questions of concern for Sevier School District board members. Colby said the firm has access to the water and can obtain permits, but officials will check further into these matters before making a decision.
One drawback to the hydro ownership for the district would be that if the plant experienced power outages, the district would have to rely on existing power companies to meet emergency electrical needs.
The Power Technologies official said the hydro plant could be operating within 10 months.