Power plant dedicated for use

Published 12:03 am Friday, May 27, 2016

VIDALIA — The south Louisiana power plant Vidalia and Jonesville will purchase power from has been dedicated for use.

The plant, built by the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority, is the first of its kind built in southern Louisiana in more than 40 years. It cost $120.7 million to build, and six LEPA member cities — Vidalia, Jonesville, Morgan City, Houma, Plaquemine and Rayne — have committed to purchase a portion of the power generated from it.

The plant is located in Morgan City.

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LEPA is a group of 17 municipalities that maintain independent municipal electrical systems.

Vidalia first adopted a resolution of support for the plant in 2012, and officials broke ground in 2014.

At that time, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland — a longtime LEPA board member — said Vidalia’s 10.3-percent participation in the plant would be equivalent to 6.3 megawatts worth of power, and Jonesville’s participation would be approximately 1.6 percent of the plant’s output.

The Vidalia system uses between 18 and 21 megawatts currently.

“This outstanding plant, which will provide results for Vidalia citizens in the form of stable electric rates, is operated by one of the most professional organizations I’ve ever worked with,” Copeland said.

The 64-megawatt plant is meant to be more efficient than other electrical generations, and is constructed in a way that waste heat is recovered and used to produce additional power. The plant also uses reclaimed water from the nearby Morgan City Waste Water Treatment Plant, which helps conserve treated water.

The plant is natural-gas fired, which helps minimize environmental control systems.

“The combined-cycle gas turbine generating technology used in this plant is superior to conventional fossil fueled generating plants because of its higher efficiency, lower environmental impact, lower capital cost and shorter construction time,” LEPA General Manager Cordell Grand said.

“Because the plant is fuel efficient, it will help stabilize the cost of electrical power for these municipalities by minimizing the impact of fluctuations in natural gas rates.”

While the City of Vidalia is a co-licensee of the Sydney A. Murray Hydroelectric Plant, it still has to buy power off the grid.