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Power Supply in Hannibal

Once upon a time, during its “Gilded Age”, Hannibal was an innovator in the generation and distribution of electricity.  As our General Manager has noted in our annual reports, our City constructed a coal-fired power plant in 1886, only four years after Thomas Edison opened the first power plant in the nation at the Pearl Street Station in Manhattan.  So new was this technology that when John J. Cruikshank, Jr. was constructing Rockcliffe Mansion circa 1898/1900 he installed both gas lights as well as electric lights as he wasn’t sure if electricity was more than a mere fad.  Hannibal’s original electric plant continued to serve until the Flood of 1973, after which all power was procured under a series of “full requirements” contracts with a variety of vendors. 

While this arrangement offered ease and simplicity, it was not necessarily the lowest-cost option and it exposed us to rapid spikes in electricity prices, such as those that drove a series of very unpopular rate increases several years ago.  With this in mind, several years ago our Board began the process of moving us to a self-managed power supply portfolio by entering into an agreement to purchase 20 megawatts of power from the Prairie State Energy Campus.  This generation should be sufficient to cover most of Hannibal’s base load for the foreseeable future at a price that is essentially locked in for the next few decades.   Starting on June 1, 2017 we began effectively using the Prairie State energy to meet Hannibal’s electric load.  Also, we are now utilizing a consulting firm to schedule our supplemental power purchases hour-by-hour in the MISO day-ahead market.

Lastly, we have entered into contracts with an electrical generating company to purchase blocks of summer peak energy, to hedge our exposure to those hours of the year when electricity prices tend to be the highest. 

In addition, the HBPW maintains Hannibal’s approximately 160 miles of electric line, 6 substations, and more than 1,700 streetlights.  There are two main substations that feed the City of Hannibal – Marion Substation (located by Sawyers Creek) and West Substation (located by Fiddlestiks). 

New Federal Regulations have de-regulated the electric industry, granting all purchasers open access to transmission systems, thereby creating open competition among power generation companies.  Regional constraints on power purchase were removed.