BRIGHAM CITY -- Looking to expand options, providers and a renewable source of electricity, the city council recently approved an agreement to purchase up to 5 megawatts of power from a wind farm in Idaho.
The project, known as the Horse Butte wind farm, is planned to provide 50 to 100 megawatts of electricity.
The wind farm is 15 miles east of Idaho Falls on 15,000 acres of private land leased from farmers. Construction on the project is scheduled to begin in December 2011.
The wind farm project has actively sought participation from cities that have membership in the Utah Associated Municipal Power System, an interlocal government agency that provides wholesale energy to its members on a nonprofit basis.
Brigham City and 26 other communities will enter into a 20-year contract with UAMPS.
Over the past five years, Rocky Mountain Power, the sole provider of electricity for Brigham City, has increasingly raised its rates.
Councilman Tyler Vincent said the city needs to think ahead. "I don't want to put all of our eggs into one basket."
Councilman Bruce Christensen agreed, saying, "Any time we have to make a judgment for the future, it is very difficult. If we had a crystal ball, it would be easier.
"The handwriting is on the wall for electricity. Power is going to continue to become more difficult to get. Electricity continues to go up. Unfortunately, we have only one provider. We have to be forward thinking or nothing gets done."
Councilwoman Ruth Jensen said she is not opposed to the project but believes the city should go smaller, as there are risks to the contract. She made a motion to approve but for only 1 megawatt.
Her motion died for lack of a second.
Mayor Dennis Fife said the city is not buying a power plant, only wind power.
"Our greatest liability will be during the construction phase. After that, it is all buyouts," he said.
Christensen, Vincent and Bob Marabella voted to approve the sales agreement for 5 megawatts.
Jensen voted against it, and Councilman Scott Ericson was absent.