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Batavia looking to sell part of its share in power co-op

Updated: October 4, 2012 8:41PM

BATAVIA — The city is looking to diversify its electric power portfolio.

On Thursday, Batavia Public Works Director Gary Holm said the city has decided to explore the possible sale of a portion of its power from the Prairie State project, a downstate coal-fired electricity plant that started running in June.

“We are looking at diversifying so we can look at other potential generation sources,” Holm said.

Holm said when the city invested in Prairie State in 2007, it was projected Batavia’s electric system would experience significant growth. He said several new industrial customers had relocated to the city and discussions for the eventual annexation of some 400 acres of the Moose International property had begun.

But the economic downturn in 2008 resulted in a “virtual stoppage” of growth and a reduction in electric consumption, he said.

“We have begun to see some recovery, but what was projected in 2007 is not valid in 2012,” he said. “We need to take steps to better diversify our energy portfolio.”

“We will still maintain our responsibility under the agreement we have with the Northern Illinois Municipal Power Agency. A third party would contract with us for a portion of Prairie State,” he said.

Holm agreed it is similar to the analogy of someone sub-leasing an apartment. The third party would either sub-lease with Batavia or the power agency, and the city would maintain its obligation to the landlord, he said.

Holm said the city’s consultant hired last year recommended diversifying the city’s energy portfolio in response to the changes in the national economy and the impact it had locally.

“We believe a diverse portfolio will translate into stable and low cost electric rates for our customers,” he said.

Holm said other partners in the Prairie State group, including Geneva and Rochelle, at this time are not pursing a sale of power.

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