Talon News - Good Local News

By Jacque Ritchie
TALON 

POWERING AZTEC

The scoop on Aztec electricity

 


Many local folks have long believed that Aztec's electrical power comes from the Four Corners Generating Station (FCGS) near Fruitland. Perhaps it's because of the coal powered plant's close proximity naturally leads one to assume that FCGS would be the obvious source. As it turns out, Aztecians do not get one kilowatt from FCGS. After years of environmental controversy the FCGS power plant is slated for closure in 2022. According to Wikipedia, while the plant is located on Navajo Nation land, the infrastructure and the power generated is primarily owned by the Arizona Public Service Company (APS). The Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and four other power entities share smaller interests' in the plant.

According to Aztec Electric Director Ken George, Aztec gets two thirds of our power needs met through Guzeman Energy, a power marketer out of Coral Gables, Florida and Denver Colorado. "There's a guy sitting at a computer in Denver whose job is to find and make the best deal (on power sources) on a daily or even hourly basis," said George. According to the Guzeman Energy website approximately 17 percent of the power Aztec consumes comes from hydro-electric sources with another 5 percent generated by solar sources. George said that sometimes the city's energy comes from wind farms or from other sources as far away as Wyoming. George explained that approximately one-third of Aztec's power needs consistently come from the Western Area Power Administration, which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy providing hydro-electricity produced by the Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP). CRSP is a system of dams on the Colorado River and Lake Powell.

As TALON reported (July 6, 2018), according to a Farmington Electric Utility System (FEUS) April 2018 study, Aztec electric customers pay 19.24 per cent more per kilowatt than customers in Farmington. George contends that the fact that Aztec has 3,200 customers as compared to FEUS's 55,000 partly explains the price differential. "It's a supply and demand thing," said George. "Farmington has so many more customers, they are able to get energy at a more reasonable rate on the open market...plus Farmington generates some of their own electricity thus cutting out the middle-man."

George explained that profits from Aztecs utility services go into the city's Joint Utility Fund which is used to fund many public works projects. "The profits from the electric utility have gone to repair and upgrade the sewer plant, the water plant and to help turn Tiger Pond from a water storage reservior into Tiger Park."

Going forward George said, "We are currently in the planning stages to build a transmission tie line from Knickerbocker Hill back to Aztec...that will give us a back-up line feed into Aztec." George said that the new line will prevent future power-outages like the two-hour July 9 black-out. The estimated 11 million dollar cost of the project will be equally shared with Farmington with July 2019 as the projected start date.

 

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