BOUNTIFUL - It always seems to cost a little more when you sign up for one of those top-flight warranties.
That’s what Bountiful Light & Power is having to do to guarantee uninterrupted natural gas service, year-round.
It will cost about $102,000 a year for the contract with Questar Gas, said Alan Johnson, Power Department Director
The city’s Power Commission and City Council both endorsed the agreement.
“For as long as I can remember, we’ve always been on an interruptible contract,” Johnson said. “We typically burn more in summer, when Questar needs it the least.”
That’s because the city’s natural gas turbines are often pressed into service more during the hottest months of summer.
“We go looking for other places (to get gas) in the winter, but we didn’t want to be shut down,” he said.
Johnson said Questar’s potential pipeline upgrades need to factor in Bountiful Power’s needs.
“Within the next few years, they’re talking about replacing their natural gas line to the west. We’re on the same line that feeds a couple of the refineries,” he said. “The refineries are talking about going to a smaller pipe. It could give us capacity problems in the summer” if Bountiful’s needs aren’t included, he reiterated.
The firm rate guarantees gas 12 months a year, “gives us the capacity into the future,” Johnson said.
At a $5,000 a month cost for the new rate, he said it’s “fairly pricey, but not as pricey has having a power plant that we can’t get natural gas to.”
Overall, the fee isn’t significant to the overall budget, which is almost $2 million a year.
“It’s a small percentage, but still a lot of money. We’re very conscious when we’re spending our ratepayers' money. We try to be very frugal,” Johnson said.
The fee won’t have any impact on power rates, he emphasized. “For the next year, we don’t have any proposed rate increase.”
“This year we had to interrupt our large-use customers in certain areas,” said Darren Shepherd, Questar spokesman. “As a result, some customers have said it (interruptible service) is offered at a good price, but it may not be worth the interruption. You never know when it (interruption) is going to hit.”
A pipeline system upgrade has been underway at various points through the Questar system for the past eight years, he said. It’s scheduled to continue for another five years.
“We want to make sure the integrity is solid and that we provide reliable service, and that there is no problem with ageing infrastructure,” particularly when high pressure lines are involved, Shepherd said.
“We’re doing replacement of all the older lines in the system to make sure they have the best technology and design,” he said.