GFPS board approves extended energy contract

The Great Falls Public Schools board voted during their Oct. 24 meeting to extend a power contract.

The district entered agreements in 2011 to purchase 1 megawatt of power for each of the 24 hours in a day.

Purchasing in bulk has given the district a low rate.

In 2020, the district entered into a five-year contract with Energy Keepers for electric power.

At the time, rates were favorable and the district’s rate per kilowatt hour was $40.50.

Market conditions have changed with projected significant increases.

Early projections showed the price for the 2023-2024 school year were as high as $120 per kilowatt hour.

The board voted to blend and extend the contract for $69.25 per hour and $73 during the high load times.

The district was concerned that rates would be significantly higher when the contract was up so opted to extend the contract at a higher rate, but lower than projected future rates.

“Because the electricity part of the budget is substantial, it is important to both find the lowest price, but also guarantee that price for as long as possible,” according to district staff.

NorthWestern Energy continues to provide the distribution and transmission service from the point of power to schools and other district facilities, according to the district.

The agreement locks in the district’s electricity rate through Dec. 31, 2028.