The Board of Public Utilities commissioned a 15-year plan back in 1996, and an update ordered by the board on Tuesday will consider the future of the utility company's main facility through 2035.
Members of the BPU board committed a sum of $210,000 to a private firm to develop its integrated resources plan. General Manager David Leathers said it will survey the status of the Samuel Carlson Generating Plant proper, including the city's domestic grid, the connection to exterior power outlets, command center, and public amenities around the facility. The report is expected to be available in the spring of 2012.
"It includes current generation, it includes plant dismantling, it includes new generations options," said Leathers. "It's a much broader view than what we would typically say is strategic planning."
He said the BPU is asking the private company for an independent assessment of its operations and direction, "to get some recommendations that we can choose to investigate further."
Meanwhile, the BPU addressed more immediate concerns of its use of coal and natural gas in the coming generating season.
The board passed a resolution that would permit the purchase of coal from two suppliers after Oct. 1, at a cost of between $84 and $101 per ton. Leathers said the price matches last years' historical high cost of the fuel source, but the BPU is poised to order less volume than previous seasons.
The natural gas turbine will have an extra set of fuel nozzles on standby while it is in operation. The BPU will spend $33,150 to recondition a set of 26 nozzles, which are actually used to inject pure water into the fuel combustion chamber to trap NOx emissions.
With this spare set in place, the BPU can "rotate the nozzles out on a regular basis and have them ready for reuse" without taking the unit out of service for an extended period, the resolution states, adding that it will extend the time interval between expensive combuster overhauls.
Leathers also announced a representative of the BPU attended a public meeting Tuesday to speak out against the proposed rate hike levied by the New York Power Authority.
The BPU anticipates a 6.5 percent increase in its price for hydroelectric power on Nov. 1, and additional 6.5 percent increases on May 1 of 2012, 2013 and 2014. Leathers said he supports an extension of the public input period from Oct. 1 to Dec. 1, effectively ruling out the intended hike Nov. 1, as well as a deferment of each successive increase thereafter.
"We are highlighting that we need more time to review what they have communicated is a need for a rate increase," he said, adding the total increase in four installments will amount to 26 percent.