Early spike City Light hits peak load Sunday

DEIDRE CRUSE

It’s early in the season for that.

“Most electrical systems in Louisiana hit their peaks in August,” Gulotta said. “We’re hitting it early, in June.”

City Light customers drew more than 24 megawatts Sunday afternoon and evening, and appeared to be heading for a new peak Monday afternoon, the mayor said. Sometimes, the city hits peak loads in July, but most often it is August.

It takes a lot of electricity for air conditioners to cool off the high temperatures, he said.

“It’s like driving a car up a mountain,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gulotta and the Board of Selectmen are continuing to negotiate for a lower-price five-year contract for city electrical supplies.

Two private companies are in competition with the Louisiana Power and Electrical Authority (LEPA), a consortium of Louisiana cities that now supplies the city.

“I’m thinking we’re close,” the mayor said. The city council might be able to approve a contract at its second meeting in July.

As yet, neither company has secured permission to transport supplies over Entergy’s transmission lines, he said. The mayor has said that has been the issue that kept the city from entering into previous lower-price contracts.

Gulotta said he met Thursday with LEPA about the authority’s continuing to maintain the city’s own power plant, even if the city contracts with another company.

If LEPA continues to operate the plant, the city would still have it as an emergency back up when transmission is interrupted, as it was after Hurricane Gustav last year.

Gulotta said he found the LEPA executive director receptive to the idea, since LEPA uses the plant to provide electricity for the system during periods of high use.

“If LEPA doesn’t operate the plant, then they have to buy the 44 megawatts of capacity from somebody else,” the mayor said.

The LEPA board would have to approve the plan, possibly at its July meeting.