Sunrise was already working on a grant application through the United States Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program, but the loan application will require more work by Sunrise, and will cost the city $8,000.
In addition to the paperwork, it will require more engineering, City Manager Shayne Scott said. The council voted to proceed.
Scott also told the council that a representative of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had visited Parowan on Aug. 7, and had been very positive about Parowan’s interest in getting the plant back up and running.
He said it seems that FERC’s main concern is seeing the plant operating, and he asked the representative whether the agency would be opposed to the city getting the plant running and waiting even up to 10 years to replace the penstock, the pipe that delivers water to the plant from the canyon.
The representative could not give a definitive answer, but believed that would be a viable option, Scott said.
“That’s comforting,” City Councilmember Alan Adams said.
The cost of getting the plant running, without replacing the penstock, would be about $1 million, Scott said. According to a July 26 presentation by Sunrise Engineering, the cost to replace the entire penstock, refurbish the plant and replace and rebuild the equipment inside would be about $3.6 million.
Scott said there are places in the penstock that have pinhole-size leaks, or places where water leaks out of the joints in the pipe, but currently the pipe is adequate to power the hydro plant and deliver water to the farmers. He said it is possible they could not replace any of the pipe at this time and continue to patch until about 10 years down the road, when they could begin to replace it in sections.
In addition to generating power, having the plant in operation ensures water from the canyon will continue to come into the valley. The Parowan Reservoir Company (farmers in the valley) and the city own shares of the water that comes down the canyon in the summer, but in the winter, the only thing keeping the water from potentially being allocated to someone else is the non-consumptive water right the city has for power generation.
Adams said it is important the water continues to come down the canyon in the winter, because it helps recharge the underground aquifer that the city and farmers pump from.
The reservoir company has agreed to partner with the city on funding the power plant restoration and replacement of the penstock.
“(They) have a huge incentive to keep the power plant going, winter and summer,” Adams said.
Also at the Aug. 9 meeting, the council asked City Attorney Justin Wayment to look into the options of doing a moratorium on commercial impact fees for a period, and discussed how prairie dogs will be lethally removed from the Parowan Municipal Airport if they are granted a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September.
They also discussed the possibility of adjusting pressurized irrigation rates and basing them on the size of one’s connection. No decisions have yet been made on those matters.
The next Parowan City Council meeting will be Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at the Parowan library.