Hyrdro plant’s role, future critical for Vidalia

Published 11:00 am Sunday, September 19, 2021

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When Sidney Murray had a vision for a hydroelectric plant in Concordia Parish, Louisiana, nearly 40 years ago, not everyone saw the future as he did.

Yet, the former mayor of Vidalia championed the clean-energy plant and shepherded it into fruition, creating a legacy that continues to yield returns for the residents of Vidalia and customers throughout the state.

Some of the benefits are immediately evident: cheap, abundant power for the residents of Vidalia; the ability for the City of Vidalia to provide economic incentives based on utility rates and costs to businesses and industries, thanks to that same abundant and affordable power; and, the prestige that comes with having a world-class, renewable clean energy source just a few miles downriver.

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Other benefits are less obvious, but equally impactful – especially when you consider the 2.5 million benefits headed to the residents of the city this year.

Those benefits are coming in the form of $2.5 million in royalty revenues paid to Vidalia, which Mayor Buz Craft and the town council have committed to returning to the residents of Vidalia in the form of utility payment refunds.

Thanks to increasing revenues on the sale of energy from the hydro plant as well as more efficient fiscal management by the city, Craft said the town will be able to refund nearly 50% of out-of-pocket annual utility expenses to customers. As the mayor said, those “big checks” will make a welcome Christmas present this year.

The key, however, is ensuring the plant continues to reap rewards for Vidalia moving forward. Smart governance is critical, as well as efforts to capitalize on the benefits of the power plant to recruit business and industry to Vidalia and surrounding areas.

And, in 2030 – some 40 years after the plan came online – the Town of Vidalia will have the opportunity to invest once again in its future by purchasing the hydro plant. Whether that comes to fruition will depend on decisions made today and in coming years, and whatever the decision, it’s critical that Vidalia continue to benefit from the plant.

After all, that’s part of the vision Sidney Murray had all those many years ago.