The city of Marietta could earn some extra money by limiting the amount of power consumed by the water and wastewater plants during peak electrical load hours, according to a presentation during Tuesday's meeting of city council's water, sewer and sanitation committee.
Alex Collins, an energy consultant with Aspen Energy of Powell, Ohio, said the city would be guaranteed payment of at least $58,000 over a two-year period by committing to a plan to curtail electricity usage from the Pennsylvania, Jersey, Maryland (PJM) power grid.
Southeast Ohio is included in the PJM which is a regional transmission organization that manages movement of wholesale electricity in the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley areas.
"The PJM response program is a kind of insurance policy in case of a sudden huge demand for electricity," Collins said. "And this is free money for the city."
By making a commitment to lower energy usage during periods of high stress on the power grid, the city would receive guaranteed monthly payments from Aspen Energy totaling around $58,000 over two years. And the city would earn even more if the water and wastewater plants are called during "mandatory demand response events" due to heavy loads on the power grid.
Collins said the mandatory responses usually come during the summer months when demand is high on the grid. At such times the water and wastewater plants would receive notification to reduce their power consumption by temporarily switching to backup generators for periods that may last up to six hours.
If you go:
Marietta City Council's streets and transportation committee meets at 4 p.m., and the lands, buildings and parks committee meets at 4:45 p.m. today in the second floor conference room at 304 Putnam St.
All committee meetings, except executive sessions, are open to the public.
For more city information, go to www.mariettaoh.net
The program would require the city to be available for up to 10 such events annually.
"Many municipalities use the money paid for participating in the program to help purchase backup generators for their facilities," Collins said.
He added that the payments would also help offset expected increases in electrical energy costs over the next several years.
Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, who chairs the water, sewer and sanitation committee, said he liked the idea, but noted participation in the program would likely require council legislation.
McCauley said the committee would consider the offer, and asked city law director Paul Bertram III to check whether a request for proposals would be required before entering into an agreement with Aspen or another energy company.
In other business Tuesday, council's finance committee heard a quarterly report from Jeri Knowlton, executive director of the Marietta Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"Hits on our web site have been through the roof this year," she said. "We're 162 percent above the number of web site visits we had at this time last year, and 75 percent of those are new visitors to the site."
Knowlton said that's good news because more tourists are using the Internet rather than tourist brochures and other more traditional sources when deciding on destinations they would like to visit.
She said the CVB will continue to improve the web site, but also noted most of the 50,000 visitor guides the CVB had published this year have been handed out. She said there are only about 150 of the booklets left.
Knowlton also said the Ohio Department of Transportation has offered to allow the CVB to take over operation of the information facility at the I-77 visitor center just north of Marietta.
"There would be no charge, but we would have to keep the information area stocked and manned with a volunteer or employee," she said, adding that an estimated 80,000 people pass through the rest stop every year.
That's in contrast with only 2,000 visitors who came through the CVB's tourist information center near Kroger's on Pike Street this year, Knowlton said.
She said the bureau's board of directors would have to consider the offer further before making any decision.