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Carmi Council Signs Off on Major Electrical Infrastructure Management Plan Tuesday

Carmi City Council signed off on a plan Tuesday evening that will bring improvements and needed maintenance to the city’s power grid at an investment of just over half a million dollars.  President of United Energy and chief Electrical Engineer consultant for Carmi, David Coston addressed the council with a long term plan for electric infrastructure management for about half an hour.  Included in the maintenance plan are repairs to the North and South Feeder system.  Coston says some power poles on both lines are rotting at the base.  Others are suffering from vertical splits, lean excessively, have broken ground wires, and vines growing on neutral conductors.  The feeder repairs Coston says should cost around $50,000.  The substation breaker and relay testing is expected to come in well under the estimated $10,000 price tag and could be lower than $4,000.

Among the resiliency improvements Coston pitched were cooling system improvements at the Power Plant, Control Room emergency power at the Power Plant, a 13.2 kV “City Loop” Extension, and circuit breaker replacement at the 6th Street Substation.  Cooling system improvements will be the costliest effort of the entire campaign at an estimate of more than $276,000.  The other pieces of the project combined are expected to cost around $180,000.

Coston says $360,000 of the funding for the Resiliency Improvement projects will be provided by the insurance claim proceeds from the failure of Generator 11.  The remaining $96,000 will come from the Electric Reserve Fund.  Mayor Pollard and Coston agreed that the reserve fund has been stocking about 25,000 per month for around 2 years now.  That fund will also serve as the basis for supporting the $54 – 60,000 price tag of Maintenance.

Coston also touched on an Energy Efficiency Grant the city is receiving from IEMA for replacing capacitors.  The project is finished and Coston says there should be a check in the amount of $8,792 being deposited in the near future.

In other news from Tuesday night’s gathering, Mayor Jeff Pollard says the city has terminated it’s agreement with Aqua-Line.  The city initially contracted with the organization back in July of 2014.  The company’s initial pitch, delivered by Robert “Bud” Yates and Ed Bates, claimed that when water line breaks occur between the meter and the homeowner’s house, the homeowner is responsible.  By opting in thru the city with Aqua-Line (and adding a $3.25 surcharge to customer bills), the company would in effect act as insurance and any damaged water lines would be repaired “in a timely and professional manner”.  Additionally the company said they sought out local plumbers and contractors to do the work to help keep money inside the community.  Mayor Pollard says City Attorney Greg Stewart has been working the last two years to deal with several issues.  Customers were claiming repairs weren’t made.  Additionally, the mayor says many plumbers from the area say they haven’t been paid by Aqua-Line after the work was done.  Pollard says if you hadn’t opted out, you’ll see that $3.25 fee removed from your bill.  With that, homeowners will now be responsible for fixing any leaks from the meter to the house and there will be no water adjustments for leaks.  Pollard adds that the city will be searching for another company who offers a similar service or an insurance provider and in the meantime, urged homeowners to check with their individual insurance providers to see if that type of coverage is available to be added.

Carmi citizens are getting closer to having a dog park.  Mayor Pollard says depending on weather, he expects the fencing to go up in the next week or two.  He also commented he thought O’Daniels would be donating some time and material to make a parking lot and that Hargraves would be handling landscaping in the coming weeks.  As previously reported the “exercise equipment” ordered has already arrived and is ready to be installed.

Council unanimously re-appointed both Rick Absher and Lloyd Stills to the Library Board for 3 year terms, July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023 and also approved pay requests to both Brown and Roberts as well as Samron for the Industrial Drive project.  The Industrial Drive project should be finishing up by early August.  Contractors were given 100 days from April 30th to complete the improvements.

Government officials will gather again for an in person meeting on July 21st at Council Chambers, 225 East Main Street in Carmi.  Meetings get underway at 5:30pm.  Masks and social distancing are required.

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