Council weighs LEPA plan

By PAUL KEDINGER

Managing Editor

The Rayne City Council and Mayor Jim Petitjean held a lengthy special meeting Monday afternoon to hear a presentation by Cordell

Grand, general manager of LEPA (Louisiana Energy and Power Authority), on building an electrical generation facility to serve participating LEPA members.

LEPA is composed of 18 municipalities, including Rayne which has some generation power of its own.

The LEPA manager proposed two types of natural gas electrical producers, a combustion turbine system and a combined cycled system.

In a combustion turbine generator, the turbine and generator are driven by hot combustion gases.

In the simple cycle steam system, natural gas is burned in a boiler to convert water into high pressure steam which turns the turbine and generator to produce electricity.

Based on the location of transmission lines, current plans envision a combustion turbine plant in Houma, which already has that system, while a combined cycle system would be constructed adjacent to similar units now operating in New Iberia.

Grand pointed out in his presentation that current sources of power are becoming “more and more cost prohibitive” and that the generating abilities of member cities is nearing the age of retirement. “Our ability to trade this capacity in the market for more efficient generation is disappearing due to a lack of transmission improvements,” said Grand.

He also projected that the power costs experienced by LEPA members this past summer “will soon expand beyond the summer months.”

Grand said new generation is the answer to reducing and stabilizing costs, while also filling the need for added capacity.

He projected that once a consensus is reached, it would take three to four years to engineer, finance and construction the new electricity generating plants.

The LEPA general manager concluded his presentation with a question: “What does Rayne want to do?”

The Council is expected to begin formulating its answer at its December meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 9.

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