Logan City Council approves contract with Box Elder solar farm

Enyo Renwable Energy is proposing two proposed largescale (900-acre) solar farms to be built in Box Elder County.

LOGAN – In an effort to secure its future power requirements at a reasonable cost, the city of Logan will purchase nearly 15 percent of the electrical output of a planned solar farm in Box Elder County.

Members of the Logan City Council unanimously approved that purchase at their regular meeting on Mar. 15.

Under City Resolution 22-10, Logan will contract with the Steel 1B Solar Project near Plymouth, UT to acquire 5.7 megawatts of renewable energy at a cost of $31.35 per megawatt hour, according to Yupi Zhao, the resource manager for Logan Power & Light (LCPL).

“(That project) is still in the design phase,” Mayor Holly Daines acknowledged in her recent State of the City address, “but we hope to add that renewable capacity by fall of 2023.”

When completed, the Steel 1B Solar Farm is projected to generate 40 megawatts of renewable electricity. Through its membership in the Utah Associated Municipal Power System, Logan will be one of seven Utah entities sharing that power output.

Other project beneficiaries include Ephraim City (0.57 percent of output); Morgan City (0.13 percent); Springville City (5.75 percent); St. George City (61.07 percent); the Southern Utah Valley Electrical Service District (3.75 percent); and Washington City (14.37 percent).

On Feb. 1, Zhao delivered a report entitled “Summer 2022 Power Shortage” to the members of the city council. In that report, she suggested that the city may experience a shortfall of 25 to 35 megawatts of electricity during the afternoon hours of the months of July to September, just when the local demand for power to run air conditioners is at its height.

Despite that concern, several members of the public turned at the Feb. 15 city council meeting to criticize LCPL future plans to purchase power from a coal-fueled power plant in New Mexico.

Daines responded to those comments by emphasizing that Logan is making significant investments in renewable energy sources, in addition to the planned purchase from the Steel 1B solar farm.

Clean city energy projects underway include two new power substations being built by LCPL; five megawatts of solar power being purchased from the Red Mesa Solar Project in southern Utah that will come online in December; and an addition five megawatts of clean power from the San Juan Solar Project.

That final purchase, she explained, will include 2.5 megawatts of battery storage capacity, which will extend solar power to meet some of Logan’s peaking power needs from 5 to 9 p.m. in the summer months.

City planners have also incorporated additional solar panels into the design of the new Logan Library.

Logan has also received a pilot project grant for LCLP to test a small-scale battery system for power storage that could eventually help to balance variable renewable energy.

Finally, LCPL has completed a carbon admissions study to provide data to help make future municipal energy decisions.

While Daines also acknowledged that securing baseload power at reasonable prices has been a challenge for city officials recently, she also stressed that “… there’s no power outage predicted.”

The mayor did acknowledge, however, that an electricity surcharge may be necessary during the summer months, depending on power availability.

The potential power shortfall could be further complicated by the fact that falling water levels in Lake Powell due to the historic regional drought might limit the capacity of the Glenn Canyon Dam to generate hydroelectric power this summer.

LCPL director Mark Montgomery admitted, depending on how Logan fills the potential summer power shortfall, that the electricity surcharge could be between $4 and $10 per month for residential customers and thousands of dollars for business customers based on their size and energy consumption.

LCLP is a municipal utility service. It operates hydro, natural gas and solar power generation facilities that produce more than 18 megawatts of electricity locally and traditionally contracts from regional utilities for additional power as needed.

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