Logan officials are considering participating in a new solar project as they work toward diversifying the city’s power portfolio.
“It is a small quantity, but if we diversify and have power from a lot of sources, that protects us from price fluctuations and from having one source of power go down,” Mayor Holly Daines said.
The Red Mesa Tapaha Solar Resource is a 66-megawatt solar project that will be located on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County. The project is slated to be operational by 2022.
Logan is considering purchasing 5 megawatts of power from the project. According to Daines, the project fits well into the city’s goal for half of its power portfolio to consist of renewables by 2030.
“It could be a great source for peaking power because our highest demand for electricity is in the summer when it is really hot and everyone is running their air conditioners,” Daines said. “Solar is working when it is hot and the sun is shining.”
The solar farm is a Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems project, similar to the small modular nuclear reactor to be built just north of Idaho Falls that Logan is also participating in.
Earlier this year, Daines said she was hesitant to continue with the Idaho Falls project because of the risks posed by financial, regulatory, engineering, environmental and legal challenges involved in developing the reactor’s technology. The Municipal Council was still interested in continuing, so as a compromise the city reduced its part of the project from 10 megawatts to 5.
Since solar projects like the one in San Juan County have a history of success that pioneering small modular reactors do not, Daines said she isn’t concerned about the potential investment. She said council members also seem to be on board with it.
“Both of them (the UAMPS projects) are fairly small pieces — each are 5 megawatts,” Daines said. “So you work towards the goal (of more renewable power) gradually.”
Members of the city’s Renewable Energy and Conservation Advisory Board, RECAB, wrote a statement in support of the project that was read at the council meeting last week by Logan Conservation Coordinator Emily Malik.
“RECAB expresses strong approval for this project as it supports minority community development, it is a local investment in renewable energy technology, and most important it moves us closer to the renewable energy goal adopted by council,” Malik read during the meeting.
According to the statement, the advisory board’s only suggestion was the Municipal Council invest in more than 5 megawatts of power, if available.
In addition to the solar project, Daines said geothermal could become part of the city’s portfolio in the future. According to Daines, city has been approached about a project in the Preston area that UAMPS is currently helping them analyze.
“The question is how much water is there; is it enough to power a site?” Daines said. “If it comes to fruition and seems like it could go forward, we would take a hard look at it, depending on the cost and the details.”