Power South CEO guest at City Council

Published 3:00 am Thursday, October 22, 2015

Gary Smith, CEO and president of Power South Energy Cooperative, was the special guest at the Tuesday morning meeting of the Brundidge City Council.

Power South Energy Cooperative, which is headquartered in Andalusia, is a generation and transmission cooperative that provides the wholesale power needs of 20 distribution members, including Brundidge.

Sixteen of the distribution members are electric cooperatives and four are municipal electric systems.

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Smith said Power South takes its obligations to its distribution members seriously and is committed to “keeping the lights on.”

“To do that, we must plan for the future,” Smith said. “We have to assess the needs of our distribution members and then plan to provide for those needs. In planning, we build all of our assets to supply power peaks.”

Smith said Power South’s “power” comes primarily from coal and natural gas, and at the time, natural gas is the better deal, cost wise.

“Right now, natural gas is cheaper but that could turn around,” Smith said. “To keep the lights on all time, including peak times, we have to diversify. Our planning model is based on diversity which includes buying into a nuclear plant.”

Power South utilizes a diverse generating mix that includes natural gas, coal, water, compressed air energy technology and a disciplined fuel supply-hedging program.

“We maintain long-term purchased power agreements to ensure economic and reliable power supply for our customers,” Smith said.

Power South’s expanded long-term purchased power agreement will take distribution members through 2050.

Smith said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) affects business about coal plants and the Clean Power Plan has requirements to cut caarbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

Smith said compliance with the requirements is expensive and presents a real challenge for wholesale producers of power.

“We must plan beyond coal plants,” he said. “Nuclear plants require a big capital outlay. But a lot of money must be spent to keep the lights on.”

The council discussed to agenda items, a park bench for the Tupper Lightfoot Memorial Library and health insurance for elected officials.

The council voted in favor of the request by the library board to purchase a park bench at a cost of $3,500. The bench will honor recently retired head librarian Jean Carroll and will be paid for with donations to the project. The bench will be placed on the Oak Street side of the library.

The council took no action on the health insurance for elected officials.

The council also reviewed the FY2015 August financial, which Britt Thomas, city manager, said where tracking as budgeted.

Present for the meeting were Mayor Jimmy Ramage and council members. Betty Baxter, Margaret Ross and Cynthia Pearson. Council members Arthur Lee Griffin and Steven Coleman did not attend the meeting.

The Brundidge City Council meets at 4 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The meetings are open to the public.