Farmington considers reciprocating engines to replace Animas Power Plant
Animas Power Plant once supplied all of Farmington's power, now rarely runs
FARMINGTON — Farmington is considering installing natural gas reciprocating engines, which could replace the Animas Power Plant.
“Animas has reached the very end of its life and it’s becoming a safety concern,” Farmington Electric Utility System Director Hank Adair told the City Council on Tuesday.
The Animas Power Plant, located on the banks of the Animas River, has been owned by the utility since the late 1950s. The power plant once supplied all of the electricity the city needed. Now the plant is rarely operated. The steam portion of the plant has been retired and Adair said he plans on retiring the natural gas portion of the plant in the upcoming years.
The reciprocating engines would be installed at the Bluffview Power Plant, which was built with space for additional generation to be installed.
The Animas Power Plant can generate 18 megawatts of power, but it is rarely used because of safety concerns. The reciprocating engines also could produce 18 megawatts of power.
The reciprocating engines would provide flexibility for voltage control and to pair with potential renewable sources that could come online in the future. Those renewable sources could include solar power built by the utility or installed by customers on their houses or businesses.
The project has a price tag of $28 million, the majority of which will be spent in fiscal year 2020. Adair said if approved, 35 percent of the funds will come from utility cash reserves and 65 percent will be funded through bonds.
Investing in the Animas Power Plant to extend its life could be less expensive, Adair said. He said it would cost about $2 million, however the Animas Power Plant could only be used for emergency generation.
The next phase of the project is estimated to cost $200,000 and will include bidding and permitting. The City Council approved this phase in a unanimous vote. The meeting can be viewed online at fmtn.org.
While the council approved moving on to the next phase, it has not committed itself to installing the reciprocating engines.
“There will be multiple offramp opportunities for the council,” said City Manager Rob Mayes. “Tonight is kind of a green light to keep proceeding.”
Farmington has already spent $487,000 on the project. This money has been used for things like feasibility studies.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.