In the realm of an ever complex electric delivery system, the upcoming proposal to sell electric transmission lines, owned by the City of Hope and currently maintained by Hope Water & Light, to GridLiance aims to be a win-win transaction, according to a group of officials involved in the proposal on Friday.

In the realm of an ever complex electric delivery system, the upcoming proposal to sell electric transmission lines, owned by the City of Hope and currently maintained by Hope Water & Light, to GridLiance aims to be a win-win transaction, according to a group of officials involved in the proposal on Friday.
The proposal, which was introduced to the Hope City Board in October, is for the City of Hope to sell its transmission lines to GridLiance for an estimated $1.6 million; the transmission lines, which bring wholesale power into HWL, are not to be confused with residential and commercial lines, which bring the retail power into Hope-area homes and businesses.
Since the transmission lines are officially Hope city assets, the Hope City Board of Directors, and not Hope Water & Light itself, has the sole authority to sell the property to GridLiance.
“The lines are city property; they do belong to the citizens of Hope,” Steve Saum, the general manager of Hope Water & Light, said Friday.
The proceeds from the proposed sale, however, will go towards a 2015 HWL bond issue.
For Saum, the longer vision of the transaction is that, if completed, it relieves his team of maintenance labor and costs as well as certain compliance and regulatory responsibilities over the city-owned transmission lines, which act as the city’s wholesale conduit of electricity to the outside world.
And, over the long term, Saum concedes neither HWL nor the City of Hope has the resources or manpower to maintain, or more importantly upgrade, the transmission lines.
Saum added that another goal would be to eventually provide additional electrical feeds from the outside into HWL, which in turn, means more access to power and more reliable power for HWL customers.
For the average customer of HWL, the eventual end result will be a rough savings of $2,000 over the next 20 years, due mostly to reduced maintenance costs, he said.
Furthermore, for the average HWL customer, the whole GridLiance HWL partnership, as Kevin Hopper, GridLiance’s President of the SPP Region, referred to it, would be mostly invisible.
“We are in the wholesale business; entities like HWL are in the retail business,” Hopper said.
And for the mostly isolated stand-alone entity that HWL is, the transaction would bring the local electric provider into a larger pool of providers, known as the Southwestern Pool, where shared transmission lines can provide extra electrical feeds and transits to HWL, in which now there is just one.
Barry Warren, a vice-president of development for GridLiance, likened the situation to an Interstate highway and a city cul-de-sac.
“As it stands now, the City of Hope, or HWL, is a bit isolated to itself with one pathway in; in partnering with GridLiance, it becomes connected to an Interstate highway,” he said.
For GridLiance, other than obtaining the physical lines, the transaction would give the emerging wholesale electric company a greater foothold and more access in the state of Arkansas.
“We are a company focused on working with municipal utilities like Hope, joint action agencies and electric cooperatives to solve transmission issues and manage transmission costs,” Kevin Hopper, GridLiance’s President of the SPP Region, said.
Hopper said that between meeting federal regulations, such as those of the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission (FERC) and others, as well as some 20 closing conditions with HWL, that the actual check for the transmission lines may not be written until 2019.
GridLiance, itself, is a company owned by a Wall Street private equity firm known as the Blackstone Portfolio, Co., which Warren said contains a number of pension plans.