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Vidalia joins power plant effort

VIDALIA — The Vidalia Board of Aldermen approved a resolution Tuesday to join a six-city contract to construct a power plant in Morgan City, La.

The board called a special meeting to discuss the contract. As a part of the contract, the City of Vidalia is obligated to purchase approximately 10 percent of the plant’s 64-megawatt capacity.

“Over the past several years, Vidalia has greatly increased its total load from 14 to 24 megawatts of electricity,” Mayor Hyram Copeland said. “Having a greater power capacity is attractive to businesses and may help bring in new industry.”

The new plant will not directly change electric bills for Vidalia residents, but the market price could alter prices in the future, Copeland said.

Louisiana Energy and Power Authority General Manager Cordell Grand said the facility would reduce the city’s energy cost.

The city’s portion of the expenses toward the plant construction will be spread out over 30 years as it pays for electricity, Copeland said. The city’s regular payment for the electricity it uses will cover its portion of the construction expenses.

“Construction won’t even begin for at least two years,” he said. “So, energy will not begin flowing for a while.”

The plant will provide energy to six Louisiana cities — Morgan City, Houma, Plaquemine, Rayne, Jonesville and Vidalia. The plant will be fired by natural gas and be energy efficient, using Morgan City’s wastewater.

The board also discussed moving the $3.8 million royalty it received two weeks ago from the Sidney A. Murray Hydroelectric Plant into certificates of deposit at four local banks — Delta Bank, Tensas Bank, Concordia Bank and United Mississippi Bank.

The city currently has approximately $4 million in its hydroelectric fund. The certificates of deposit will accrue a .23-percent interest annually, Copeland said.

Copeland said larger amounts would be deposited into six-month certificates of deposit, while smaller amounts will be placed into longer certificates of deposit.

“We are doing this just in case we run into a situation where we don’t receive as much money from the hydroelectric plant,” he said. “We want to move the community forward. By investing in efficient reliable power and providing a safety measure for the future, I think we are putting ourselves on the right path.”