Celebrating 112 Years of Electric Power in Baldwin City

Rob Culley, Director of Public Works, City of Baldwin City

In fall of 1905, a City-Wide vote was taken to see if residents wanted electricity. By an overwhelming 3 to 1 margin, the citizens voted in favor of building the first power plant in Baldwin City. April 6, 1906, the Baldwin Council approved the construction of the new power plant at an estimated cost of $1,250. Professor William C. Bauer from Baker University was hired by the City to design, engineer and oversee construction of the new power plant, which began in the fall of 1906.  Baldwin City purchased 2 engines, one 80 horsepower, and the other 25. The combined output of these 2 engines was around 70 Kilowatts.

Baldwin City Power Plant (Photo dated 1914)

Baldwin City Municipal Power & Light started production of electricity on February 5, 1907.  William C. Bauer was hired as the first superintendent of the power plant.  When the power plant was first put into service, electricity was only provided from dusk to dawn. Around the clock production of electricity did not start until 1917.The power plant was staffed around the clock from 1917 until about 1995. Cost of electricity in 1907 was around $0.10 per kWh.

Baldwin City Municipal Power & Light started production of electricity on February 5, 1907.  William C. Bauer was hired as the first superintendent of the power plant.  When the power plant was first put into service, electricity was only provided from dusk to dawn. Around the clock production of electricity did not start until 1917.The power plant was staffed around the clock from 1917 until about 1995. Cost of electricity in 1907 was around $0.10 per kWh.

Baldwin City began offering electrical service to residents in 1907. They also offered to install wiring in homes at actual cost plus 5%. Repayment could be made in 10 equal payments.

 Other key events include:

  • 1978 – The City signed its first interconnection agreement with KCPL. This contract allowed the City to purchase energy from KCPL for around $0.02 per kWh. It required the City to generate energy during the peak hours of the day, but allowed them to turn off the engines overnight.
  • 1982 – The City joined the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency. This is a joint action agency that assists municipal utilities in obtaining reliable and cost effective energy products, as well as real time marketing and economic dispatching of generation.
  • 1982 – The City signed an agreement with the BPU Nearman station for 2500 kW of energy. That contract ended December 2015.
  • 1999 – The City signed an agreement with the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) for 3000 kW of energy. Contract will expire in 2026.
  • 2002 – Construction on Power Plant # 2 was started, and was put into service in December 2004. It has 2 Fairbanks Morse Dual Fuel engines that can produce 3,165 KW each.
  • 2012 – The City begins receiving hydro power from the Western Area Power Administration (520 kW -Hydro) Expires in 2054
  • 2012 – The City also begins receiving energy from the Southwest Power Administration (100 kW – Hydro) Expires in 2034
  • 2016 – The City begins receiving Wind energy from the Marshall Wind Farm – 1,000 kW Expires in 2035.
  • 2018 – The City begins receiving Wind Energy from the Buckeye Wind Farm – 1,000 kW, Expires in 2033
  • 2019 – The City enters into a contract with Evergy to build a 1 MW Solar Field on site in Baldwin City. Projected to go online Mid-August 2019

Breakdown of our Wholesale Energy Supply (YTD 2019)

69.4% – GRDA – Coal/Hydro

9.2% – Marshall Wind Farm

8.9% – Buckeye Wind Farm

6.1% – Spot Market – Coal/Nuke/Nat.Gas/Diesel/Wind/Solar

4.4% – WAPA – Hydro

1% – SPA – Hydro

1% – In House Generation – Diesel/Nat Gas

YTD 2019 – 23.5% of our load is covered by renewables. It is estimated by the end of 2020, Baldwin City will be able to cover 30% of our load by renewables.

 

Takeaways

Baldwin City is a Municipal Owned Utility. It exists to provide a public service to its customers. Local control equals local regulation and higher standards of reliability. Local ownership means that customers’ utility dollars remain in the community, creating jobs and supporting the local economy.