Vidalia residents and businesses: Welcome to the beginning of the “heyday” of hydro-royalties.

This is the message Mayor Buz Craft gave at the Town Council meeting earlier in April when Debra Moak, Vidalia’s CPA, gave her monthly financial reports.

Recently, Vidalia received its first quarterly hydroelectric check for 20 percent royalties worth $9,022,920.

In the early 1990s Vidalia and LP&L entered into a contract to purchase all of the revenues produced by the Sydney A. Murray Hydroelectric Plant. In the contract, Vidalia and LP&L were given a constant revenue stream with customers buying power at a set price, giving a set revenue stream to pay for the plant along with 192 megawatts of power.

Under the contract, Energy, a large hydro plant customer, purchases power for $150 per megawatt until 2030. According to Craft, the company could buy megawatts for approximately $30 per megawatt, but the contract ties them into the current price.

 “We, the Town of Vidalia, get a royalty payment of a certain percentage and it also graduates through the years as the debt is paid down,” Craft said. “Vidalia, as a partner, started getting more percentage of the share of the revenues.”

According to the contract, in the first year (1989) Vidalia received 3.75 annual percent of gross receipts.  Now, the town receives 20 percent of the royalties.

“We have projected our revenues to be $15 million higher than they were any previous year,” Craft said. “And it will be that way from here on out.”

Craft said his administration and Town Council have to be good stewards of the hydro funds.

“It is restricted funds by ordinances for what you can do with it,” Craft said. “We have to be smart with that money because in 2030 we have an opportunity to own the plant, and I think we should start investigating and researching. Should we own the plant or make a new agreement? We need to be very, very smart with the money and decisions because we can ensure the future of this region for a very long time.”

According to Craft, hydroelectric power also becomes attractive to businesses because it is a “green energy” source.

Corporations have to purchase carbon credits if they receive power from traditional power sources, but with hydroelectric power “you don’t have to buy carbon credits,” Craft said.

“You can actually do business and have your energy source green (with hydroelectric power),” Craft said. “That is going to save you a lot of money. Businesses will say, ‘Hey, I need to buy property in Concordia Parish and Vidalia and get tied into this thing because this is really big.’”

Additionally, annual electricity reimbursements will continue to be paid out to Vidalia businesses and residents.

“Every year at least till 2030 people should get 50 percent back of whatever they paid in their electricity bill,” Craft said. “That is huge for all of our businesses and residents.”

The future is bright for Vidalia and Concordia Parish, according to Craft.

“It is a great time to be living in Vidalia,” Craft said.

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