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7/8/2009 6:00:00 AM
City strikes tentative water deal with solar company

James Chilton
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - A 340-megawatt solar plant being planned in the Red Lake area north of Kingman may end up using treated city wastewater to help power and cool its steam turbines.

The Kingman City Council on Monday unanimously approved a resolution authorizing Mayor John Salem to sign off on a letter of intent with Hualapai Valley Solar LLC.

The letter expresses the city's willingness to investigate the technical and financial feasibility of delivering treated effluent from the Hilltop Wastewater Treatment Plant, currently under construction north of the city on Highway 66, to the solar plant upon its completion.

City Manager Jack Kramer was quick to point out that the letter of intent is legally non-binding, and that the city may choose to sell its effluent to another entity, should the feasibility study fail to show a benefit.

By signing the letter, however, Salem said the administration was sending a message to the public and to HVS that it believed the plan was a good idea.

Additionally, Kramer noted such a deal could greatly cut the amount of groundwater the solar plant would have to use annually, lessening the strain on the local aquifer.

The plant's water usage has been the primary sticking point among local residents concerned that the aquifer cannot sustain such large scale projects without suffering substantial depletion.

Kramer said the solar plant is looking to use upwards of 2,500 acre-feet of water, or more than 800 million gallons each year, and that Hilltop could supply as much as 1,700 acre-feet of the total required, with a roughly 60/40 split between A-plus effluent and B effluent.

"We could probably deliver somewhere around a million and a half gallons a day," Salem said.

"In some of the areas, some of the test wells, the B effluent could be in better shape than what they might be pumping out of the aquifer."

Councilwoman Carole Young wondered aloud how much revenue the move could bring the city. Kramer said any final price for the treated effluent would be determined by a separate, ongoing financial feasibility study being conducted for the treatment plant. Salem added that the price was likely to be per thousand gallons of effluent.

Vice Mayor Janet Watson hailed HVS for its environmentally conscious goal of preserving the desert's most precious resource, despite its ambitious project.

While she acknowledged the company still has at least a year and a half worth of legal hoops to jump through before construction can even begin, she felt the deal would give the city a great opportunity to show its commitment to reducing, reusing and recycling, as well as to clean energy.

Even so, the water issue may remain a substantial hurdle for HVS in the coming months, since the Mohave County General Plan states that the county will only approve power plants using air-based "dry cooling" technology when the aquifer is threatened with depletion or subsidence. An advisor to the project, Chris Stephens, has maintained that the aquifer holds more than enough water to accommodate the next century's worth of growth.

Councilman Ray Lyons made a motion to approve authorizing the Mayor to sign the letter of intent, with Keith Walker seconding. The motion passed 7-0.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, July 13, 2009
Article comment by: For it

@Questions-Do you worry about who Guardian sells its fiberglass insulation to? Electricity is a commodity just like any other manufactured commodity and should be looked upon as such.

Our benefits will be just as important to our economic development as any other manufacturer at the Mohave Industrial/Airport or the I40 Industrial Corridor. These solar projects could actually enhance the potential of our industrial corridors since there will be more electricity produced in our area than there is in others.

Industry needs quality power sources,meaning more economic development could soon follow.

Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009
Article comment by: Loyd

And spell checkers are of great 'bennifit' also. Most comment modules have built-in spell checkers -- taint so with this one.

Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009
Article comment by: Todd Tarson

The jobs created at the plant would be a 'bennifit' to our area.

Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Article comment by: No name provided

Actually a power plant supplying local power is a myth. The power generated goes to supporting the western electrical grid. It's like someone poring a gallon of water in a swimming pool and you taking a gallon out. You really can't tell where it came from, all you know is that it was available.

Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Article comment by: Questions

The general plan is the Mohave County General Plan, not the city. No the property isn't in the city limits, but it sounds like they need water from the city in order to go ahead.

Does anyone know who they would sell the power to? Just worried some about the use of our resources for something that may not bennifit our area.

Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Article comment by: No name provided

The General Plan is only a guide line and this property is not in the Kingman City limits.

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