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Lehi is plugging in power options

City will buy generators, urge conservation

LEHI — To combat the sky-high energy prices predicted for this summer, Lehi is rounding up a circle of power generators.

They're also asking folks to start hanging out the wash.

City Manager Ed Collins said the city-owned power system is looking at a desperate situation.

"We've been told the price could be as much as $1,000 a kilowatt hour this summer," Collins said. "We paid $250 a kilowatt hour last week, and it's only March."

The $250 price translates to more than triple the price residents currently pay for power.

"Our solution is innovative and somewhat desperate," Collins said. "We don't have a lot of options."

Power officials have arranged to bring in six diesel generators that can be placed in various locations around Lehi and fired up when the peak demand outstrips the supply of electricity.

Collins said it is anticipated the city will need four to six generators that can put out 1.6 megawatts of power each hour.

Wheeler Machinery in West Valley will rent the generators to the city for $140 an hour.

Collins said it probably won't be necessary to run all of the generators at the same time — but on an as-needed basis.

"We'll be able to ramp on and off," he said.

Collins said the generators have air permits and should not create a pollution problem. The units will be located as far away as possible from homes, said Lehi Power superintendent Dennis Ashton, discussing the situation at a recent council work session.

Fuel for the units will probably cost about 90 cents a gallon, said Ashton, possibly more. Each unit has a 1,500-gallon tank, and a tank is good for up to eight hours.

Ashton said Lehi will be able to meet its needs with the generators and even provide surplus power that can then be sold. "We're hoping to generate some revenue," Ashton said.

Councilman Robert Fox said even with the generators, it is critical that Lehi's population cut down its electricity demand.

"We're still worried about peaking in July, August and September," Fox said. "Even with the generators, we're still short, according to the projections."

Collins said residents will be asked to turn off heating elements in dishwashers, turn up the temperature on air conditioners so the conditioners run less often and run major appliances late at night rather than during the day.

Residents will be asked to dry laundry outside on a line and to water lawns on a consistent morning cycle so the city water pumps don't run during peak hours.

"We're not just talking about turning off a light or two," said Fox. "We need to take a strong stand. We could take off as much as 20 percent."