WG&L to buy $1.8M of natural gas

ALBANY -- The Board of Albany Water, Gas & Light discussed Thursday moving forward with a plan to diversify the utility's energy portfolio by purchasing excess natural gas from the city of Griffin.

WG&L is currently lacking natural gas in its energy portfolio, which comprises 40 percent power from coal plants, 40 percent power from nuclear plants and 20 percent power from hydroelectric dams.

In a deal presented by WG&L's Director of Fiscal Affairs John Vansant III last month, WG&L would be allowed to purchase $1.8 million worth of natural gas power from the city of Griffin at cost, which it will pay during the next 30 months.

WG&L would also need to assume roughly $5 million of the city's debt load on the power but would have until 2024 to pay that.

An evaluation of the deal done by the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, or MEAG, shows that if prices remain relatively stable during the next few years, WG&L stands to reduce its power costs by between 8 and 10 percent.

"Over the last couple of years, they've developed new techniques to extract natural gas from the ground, which has increased the supply of natural gas quite a bit. That has brought the cost of gas down, and costs have stayed low and reasonable over the last two years," Vansant told The Herald.

The volatile market that once made natural gas risky for investors has become more stable largely thanks to discoveries of large deposits of the gas and advancements in the technology used to reach it.

In total, WG&L is hoping to purchase roughly 10 megawatts of power from Griffin's Natural Gas plant.

The purchase will allow WG&L, which has often failed to meet energy demands during the highest peak days, to reduce its power shortage from 15 megawatts to 5 megawatts.