HYRUM — <a href=”http://www.hyrumcity.org/”>Hyrum City</a> opened the doors of its hydro-electric plant to the public Wednesday evening, May 10, with tours of the facility being led by Hyrum City Power Superintendent Matt Draper. Dozens of Cache Valley residents made the six-mile drive up Blacksmith Fork Canyon to attend the open house, including several local Cub Scout troops and many families.
When longtime Hyrum City residents Jody and Carl Krawiec learned of the opportunity, they were eager to participate.
“We’ve lived here for over 40 years and have never been on the inside, so we were kind of curious,” said Jody Krawiec. “‘Beautiful day, why not come up and see what it’s all about, you know?”
Built in 1928, the Hyrum City’s hydro-electric plant continues to supply a substantial portion of Hyrum City’s electricity. To meet voltage needs beyond the plant’s capacity, Hyrum City Power also owns shares in other power plants throughout Utah, Wyoming and Idaho, with electricity being transmitted through <a href=”file:///C:/Users/Jennifer/Documents/Jennifer/rockymountainpower.net”>Rocky Mountain Power’s</a> regional grid.
Hyrum City Power also belongs to the <a href=”http://www.uamps.com/”>Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems</a>, a nonprofit cooperative that allows the utility to buy and sell electricity at cost among other Utah cities with locally-owned municipal power systems. Draper said there are definite advantages to how Hyrum City Power is operated.
“We charge residents enough for power to maintain our system and pay our overhead, and that’s about it,” he said. “Hyrum City’s residents own the power system, and that’s why we try to keep prices low. Another benefit of a city owning its own power system is we are able to transfer funds into the city’s general fund for other programs and services and we don’t have to pay a surcharge to a private organization.”
Draper said the way Hyrum City Power is structured also gives the community local control over power rates and allows the city to keep taxes lower while providing a valuable public service.
“Honestly, it’s kind of complex, but the bottom line is that Hyrum City residents benefit from having local control of the power system through their elected officials,” he said.
Kenna Dyches, also a Hyrum resident, appreciated being able to learn more about Hyrum City Power as she visited the hydro-electric plant with five of her children. Eight-year-old Holly Dyches said she thought the visit was “cool” and said she enjoyed the whole tour. Her mother was especially impressed with the building’s history.
“I just think it’s fascinating,” Kenna Dyches said. “I’ve driven by this place so many times and never really noticed it. I knew that Hyrum had its own hydro-electric plant, but I hadn’t ever seen inside, so it’s fascinating to see how it works and to see the old pieces. I loved the telephone booth in there. That might be one of my favorite things. That’s funny, but the doorknob is really old and cool, and it’s just very vintage in there. I liked that.”
Dyches learned through Draper’s presentation that the plant has been modernized over the years, but much of the original equipment is still in place. Wednesday’s tour was possible because the facility is currently undergoing maintenance.
“When they update it, they still try to stay true to the original mechanics of it and to make it look like the old stuff,” Dyches said. “They still have to come up every day and watch the gauges and make sure it’s equalized. Every day they have to come up and check on it and make sure it’s all working right because it’s still a lot of the original equipment even with the new parts that they’ve replaced.”
Yesterday’s tour of Hyrum City’s hydro-electric plant was part of the Hyrum City Museum’s “Tradition and Innovation: Working Together in Hyrum” and “Work Worth Doing” exhibits, which complement a traveling Smithsonian Exhibition on display in the museum since March 25. The last day to view the Smithsonian exhibit is Saturday, May 13. More information is available at <a href=”http://www.hyrumcitymuseum.org/”>www.hyrumcitymuseum.org</a>.