EDITOR’S NOTE: This is second installment of a two-part series covering the new initiatives that the city of Piqua will be pursuing and considering in 2016.
PIQUA — With the new year just beginning, the city will be exploring different initiatives to improve services to residents of Piqua. According to City Manager Gary Huff, the city is investigating the possibility of creating alternative energy generation facilities in Piqua, such as natural gas and solar power as potential energy sources, for the city’s energy needs.
“The benefit of having such facilities within the (city) of Piqua would result in lower energy transmission costs and ultimately lower electric rates for customers,” Huff wrote in his blog.
The city currently purchases power from the American Municipal Power System (AMP) and invests in various energy generation facilities that AMP owns.
“We’re (a) part owner of four hydro plants on the Ohio River,” Huff said on Wednesday. “We invest in those large facilities through the American Municipal Power System.”
Other facilities that the city invests in includes a clean coal plant in Illinois, a wind energy facility in Ohio, and the Fremont Energy Center for natural gas.
“We get our energy from a lot of different places because (we) invest in them and then we’re able to get power that way,” Huff said. “Our investments like that is where we’re able to get our power from, and being an owner, that helps us keep our costs lower to purchase power to provide to our residents.”
In relation to the city’s initiative, the city is looking into the possibility of creating a renewable energy generation plant in Piqua.
“(It) could be a cost savings for our customers here in Piqua by having those energy generation plants here in Piqua,” Huff said. “And we could utilize, for instance, the old Piqua Power Plant — use that as the natural gas energy facility.”
Having energy generation facilities such as natural gas and solar within the city could potentially lower the cost to the city for being a part of AMP. In addition to the possibility of turning the old Piqua Power Plant into a natural gas energy plant, Huff discussed the idea of creating a solar power energy generation plant within Piqua. That would occur if an appropriate site became available; the city is working on that possibility with AMP as well.
Along the same lines of giving a building within Piqua a new purpose, Huff also discussed the idea of turning the old Water Treatment Plant into a public safety training center for both police and fire agencies.
“We view it as possibly a regional training facility,” Huff said. “Currently there’s nothing in our region … our police and fire (departments) have to go to different places around the state.”
Instead of having to pay for the Piqua police and fire departments to travel and rent other training facilities, the city would have good training facilities available on a constant basis. Similar agencies within the region could also use, and possibly rent, the facility. The idea for the training facility would include classrooms, a burn building, a tower to practice on, a water rescue practice site, and possibly a firing range for the police.
“It’s pretty expensive to take down a building and demolish … a building that size,” Huff said. “In the end result, we’re providing greater training for our employees and saving costs by not having to travel or rent facilities or the cost of demolishing facilities … I think that would be very beneficial.”
The potential training facility could be regionally owned or owned by the city of Piqua. Huff stated that they are considering which option would be the best scenario, but Bowling Green State University has also met with the city and is interested in the teaching possibilities at this potential training facility.
“These are some of the new initiatives that we’ll be working on in 2016 and there may be more,” Huff said. “We’re trying to move the city forward in a very positive manner and provide the best services and cost-savings to citizens that we can.”
For more information, visit Huff’s blog at piquaohcm.wordpress.com.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall