It's been just over four months since the Hannibal City Council threw its support behind the purchase of wind-generated power, should the opportunity to do so ever present itself again. The lack of headway on the contract front is no fault of the Board of Public Works.

It’s been just over four months since the Hannibal City Council threw its support behind the purchase of wind-generated power, should the opportunity to do so ever present itself again. The lack of headway on the contract front is no fault of the Board of Public Works.

“A power purchase agreement has not materialized,” said Bob Stevenson, general manager of the BPW, during the Nov. 22 meeting of the BPW Board, adding that he had expected to receive at least a draft power purchase agreement by early November. “It’s hard to approve (contract) language that you haven’t seen.”

Stevenson planned to present some preliminary prices when the BPW Board went into closed session on Nov. 22. In accordance with Missouri Sunshine Law guidelines the BPW Board did acknowledge that it would be discussing contacts when it went behind closed doors.

“These prices are confidential,” explained Stevenson when asked about the figures in open session.

Stevenson is hopeful of receiving some concrete figures at the Dec. 7 meeting of the Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA) in Columbia. The BPW superintendent indicated he planned to be at the upcoming MPUA meeting and promised to pass along price details to BPW Board members as they become available.

“Commitments on wind energy will need to be made by the (BPW’s) December meeting to lock in prices,” he said.

According to Stevenson, the power purchasing process is “going down to the wire.”

“The big rush is related to federal law and the coming reduction of federal subsidies on wind energy projects that are uncommitted by the end of the calendar year,” explained the BPW’s GM in his November report to the BPW Board.

The BPW is hoping to secure a portion of the 200 MW (megawatts) of direct current transmission service that the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC) agreed to purchase in early June from Clean Line Energy Partners (CLEP).

In July, Stevenson told the Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council that if the city is able to buy into the wind power opportunity “it could be a game changer” in terms of what the city would be paying for electricity.

It was reported earlier this year that the BPW was interested in securing enough power to cover 40 percent of the city’s electrical needs. The projected fee for the wind-powered energy was expected to be around half or less than what the BPW is currently paying Ameren Energy Marketing. That power supply contact expires at the end of May, 2017. Since there is no way the wind-generated energy from western Kansas will be available to Missouri consumers by next year the BPW has been busy lining up blocks of electricity to meet the city’s needs beginning in June, 2017.

The wind power transmission line project’s future is by no means written in stone. Grain Belt Express is in the process of requesting for a third time that the Missouri Public Service Commission (MPSC) grant a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) for the project.

A pair of public hearings have been scheduled regarding the controversial project on Wednesday, Dec. 7, one in Monroe City and the other in Hannibal. The Monroe City hearing will take place at noon, Dec. 7, at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 424 South Locust St. The hearing in Hannibal will begin at 6 p.m. in the Roland Fine Arts Building Theater at Hannibal-LaGrange University.

Evidentiary hearings in the case are scheduled for March 20-24, 2017, in Jefferson City.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com