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Light Plant Improvements Dominate Tuesday’s Carmi City Council Meeting

Improvements to the Light Plant dominated conversation at the City of Carmi council meeting Tuesday evening, more specifically the much maligned and broken Generator 11.  Electrical Engineer David Coston spoke at length as the deadline nears for the city to make a decision about how they want to move forward.

In a brief recap, Coston says he found two 2017 Caterpillar diesel generators for sale in Indiana mid November.  At the November 19th Council meeting, a vote to retire Generator 11 was passed so they could pursue a potential replacement generator purchase.  With that, Coston laid out he understood the the insurance payment of about $600,000 from the downed Generator #11, will need to cover a significant portion of the cost and installation of a replacement.  Furthermore, the new generator will need to be in compliance with IEPA guidelines so that it can be included in the existing power plant air permit coverage and lastly, IMEA will need to agree to allow an extended deadline of January 31, 2020 to accommodate the permitting, purchase and installation.

Coston’s official recommendation surrounds taking into account those considerations and all starts with council allowing Coston to address the IMEA board to request a pushback of the deadline requirement. That recommendation was accepted, turned into a motion by Doug Hays, seconded by Sheila Headlee and unanimously passed.

If all goes according to plan, Coston says once IMEA approval is obtained, he’ll need to be authorized to begin the process of working to obtain IEPA permitting.  Next, once IEPA construction permitting is obtained, the council would then need to vote and approve the purchase, delivery, installation and testing of the replacement unit.  Beyond that, Coston says he’d recommend moving developing a plan for a suitable upgrade of the power plant engine cooling system.  Those funds, Coston says, would be allocated in the 2020 power plant budget and could be recovered through the City gaining back nearly $100,000 per year in IMEA credits by purchasing and installing the generator replacement.  Finally, Coston says work should begin now on plans for next year’s budget as well as a 5 and 10 year plan to address future needs.

Coston expects the breakdown of cost for purchase and installation of the new generator to look something like the following:

Generator Cost (delivered)                         $600,000

Catalyst upgrade                                          $40,000

IEPA permitting costs (lawyer fees,etc)   $20,000

Tie-in to Existing System (fuel, electric)  $15,000

Building addition to power plant               $25,000

Coston says estimates are that $100,000 or so of that cost could be offset through the sale of parts from the broken down Generator #11.

Coston also brought up a couple of fresh purchases.  The $160,000 Council authorized for purchase of a new Bucket and a new Digger Truck turned out to be nearly exactly what was spent.  Mayor Jeff Pollard says the bucket truck purchase came in at $75,000 and change while the new digger truck came at a cost of $84,000.  Those trucks should be in within a couple days.


The entire meeting lasted just over 30 minutes with no standing committees or visitor comments.  The mayor only reported thanks to several businesses for assisting in the purchase of Christmas decorations, in particular wreaths that have been placed on Main Street.  He also commented his appreciation for the privilege of being the first vehicle to travel through the Lights of Hope display currently up at the fairgrounds.  Mayor Jeff Pollard also reminded folks of availability to visit the Carmi Santa House.  Remaining opportunities include Saturdays, December 7th, 14th, and 21st and Sundays, December 8th, 15th, and 22nd, each from 2pm – 5pm.  Additionally, Santa will be in his Carmi headquarters on South Main Cross Thursday, December 19th from 6pm – 9pm.