Paducah Power Systems representatives attend city commissioners - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Paducah Power Systems representatives attend city commissioners meeting


The Paducah, Kentucky City Commission met on Tuesday night, Sept. 23.

With residential and commercial customers dealing with Power Cost Adjustment implemented by Paducah Power Systems, Mayor Gayle Kaler invited representatives of PPS and the Prairie Generating Company to provide an update on plant operations.

"We have no question that Paducah Power is providing citizens abundant and reliable power," Mayor Kaler said. "However, the rates are this community's concern."

PPS, in partnership with Princeton, is an equity owner in the plant located in Illinois that has a coal mine with a 30 year supply.

Construction on the plant began in 2007. However, since the Prairie State plant came online in 2012 and over the past nearly two years, the plant has not been able to operate at a stable and reliable level that Paducah Power needs. As a result, PPS has had to buy power on the open market which has led to the PCA showing up on bills.

At the meeting on Tuesday, Paducah Power System General Manager Dave Clark introduced three Prairie State Generating Company representatives, including Engineering Consultant Rick Soderholm.

"Yes, your rates are higher than they should be," he said. "This has taken longer than expected based on my experience in the industry."

"I'm very certain that you are at the top of the crest," he added.

He said the goal of removing the PCA is achievable.

About the plant, PSGC Management Committee Chairman Marc Gerken said this summer the plant has been operating at a capacity factor of nearly 74, which is a significant improvement over the July 2013 capacity factor of 43.

The capacity factor is a measure of the plant's productivity.

"This is nothing that we're proud of, but it's a measurement of where it [the plant] is today," he said.

The goal is to bring the plant to a capacity of 85 or higher, which according to Paducah Power System General Manager Dave Clark, would lead to the reducing of the PCA showing up on bills to zero or close to it.

About the plant's performance, the representatives provided explanations about the quality of the coal and how it has affected the plant's mechanical systems, leading to an extended "shakedown phase" period.

They say the coal is a high-silica, high-ash content variety that has led to mechanical issues requiring the plant to go off line in order to make system modifications.

If a system trips off, they say then there is a period of troubleshooting and correcting which limits the capacity of the plant.

The representatives expect the number of mechanical issues to drop since several modifications have been made.

After asking questions of their own, the mayor and commissioners heard nine public comments at the end of the presentations.

Also at the meeting, the Paducah Board of Commissioners approved a resolution demanding the Electric Plant Board, the governing body of Paducah Power System, to do the following:

  • Hire an independent expert to investigate the information on which the decision to invest in the Prairie State campus was made
  • Hire an expert in utility matters to investigate the current financial obligations
  • Promptly proceed with the process currently underway to hire a search firm to assist in the recruitment and selection of a successor to the retiring Paducah Power System general manager
  • Enhance and communicate to the public attainable programs to help customers with current bills created from the recent Power Cost Adjustment
  • Consider and provide opportunities for the community to become a full and open partner in determining the fate of the community and Paducah Power System

At a meeting on Monday, Sept. 22, the Electric Plant board approved steps to investigate current fiscal obligations, look at cost cutting measures and conduct a process to select a new general manager.

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