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BMU History

1903 – The first Berea College heat and power plant was placed into operation.  Water to operate the plant was hauled from a well at the College gardens. The plant was only operated a few hours a day due to a limited water supply and was used primarily to provide electric to the Berea College crafts industries.

1904 – The College entered into a contract with the City of Berea. The contract allowed the College to lay pipes for drains, steam, and water in and across the city streets and to set poles to support electric lines as needed to serve College buildings.  In exchange, the College agreed that when they secured a water supply, they would install at least four hydrants to be used by the city, free of charge, to extinguish fires and for sprinkling the streets.

1904 – A gift to the College from Dr. Pearsons provided the resources to develop several springs in the College forest, located five miles east of the campus.  The spring water was collected in a pond and then pumped to the campus.

1909 – The College decided to expand the central heat and electric plant in order to have the capacity to serve all of the College buildings.  A new powerhouse was built which included two 100 kilowatt steam driven electric generators.  The new power plant supplied steam heat to fifteen buildings and electricity to some of the buildings, shops, lighting for the campus, as well as a number of staff and faculty homes.

1912 – The College purchased a city franchise to be the water provider for the City of Berea. 

1917 The College purchased a city franchise to furnish street lighting and started selling electricity retail to 564 customers. Over the next 35 years, Kale Lake, B-Lake, and Cowbell Lake were constructed and improved to meet the growing water demands of the community.  The total water storage capacity increased from 20 million gallons to 252 million gallons during that time.

1947 – The College made its first move to get out of the electric generating business by agreeing to purchase 35% of their electrical load from Kentucky Utilities. 

1952 – The College filed its first set of rates for retail electric service with the Kentucky Public Service Commission.  The rates filed with the Commission had been in effect since 1938.

1957 – The water treatment plant was built on campus adjacent to the heat plant and it had a capacity of 1.08 million gallons per day. 

1969 – The College entered into a forty-year contract to sell water wholesale to Southern Madison Water District.

Early 1970s – Lewis Street Substation was constructed, powering the southwester portion of the system. It featured five 4kV feeders. 

1973  – Owsley Fork Lake was constructed, increasing the total water storage capacity to 852 million gallons.

1987 – A new 2.4 MGD waste water treatment plant was constructed.

1990 – A new 4-mgd water treatment plant was built below B-lake.

1992  – The College entered into a twelve-year contract to sell water wholesale to Garrard County Water Association.

1993 – Rash Road (Glades) Substation was constructed consisting of two transformers and four 12kV feeders. 

2005 – Berea Municipal Utilities was formed in January of 2005 as a combination of three entities: Berea College Utilities, the Berea Sewer Commission, and the City of Berea. We now operate as a department of the City of Berea and provide electric, water, and wastewater services to parts of Berea and the surrounding areas.

2005 – The waste water treatment plant was upgraded and expanded to 4.3 MGD. 

2010 – The water treatment plant was upgraded to a 6 MGD plant offering separate chemical feeding building and redundancy. 

2011 – Phase I & II of the Berea Solar Farm was constructed, featuring a 120 panel solar photovoltaic array.

2014 – Phase III & IV of the Berea Solar Farm was completed, adding an additional 126 panels, bringing the total to 246,

2015 – Oak Street Substation was constructed, replacing the Lewis Street. The new substation featured 12KW equipment, allowing for alternate feeds available for substation outages, reduced transformer inventory and reduced system losses. Various circuits throughout the community were upgraded to 12KW as a result of this project. 

2019 – BMU terminated the contract the Kentucky Utilities purchased power and entered into a five-year contract with the American Municipal Power (AMP) as the new power supplier for the BMU customers.

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