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Generators “generate” public interest at Rushford Council meeting


Fri, Jun 27th, 2003
Posted in Features

Citizens opposed to the addition of standby generators at the substation site had a chance to address their questions and comments to the Rushford City Council as they began their meeting on June 23.

Eric Hoiland handed out a list of ten questions to the council, asking each of them for a written response. Barb Johnson stressed her concern about the heat generated by the smoke stacks and the potential harm to bluff vegetation, as well as health problems caused by diesel smoke such as cancers and asthma. Richard Holle spoke of the importance of location, expressing his hope that the council would chose the industrial site because it would be easier to access the site in case of an emergency.

Rick Johnson told of the frustration he felt when it seemed that no one was listening to the group. Stating, "We never got a true answer," Johnson mentioned the wide disparity in estimates of the costs of developing each site and the uncertainty of financial projections going out for twenty years.

Mark Wieser added, "I know we’ve got to look at costs, but if we are going to do a project of this magnitude, let’s do it right.”

Water Improvements

The council then dealt with its other business of the night before returning to the generator topic. A very important item of business was the planned water system improvements. Bill Chang of BDM Consulting Engineers and Brian DeFrang of Otomo Engineering addressed the council concerning the proposed water system improvements. The council had chosen to install an in-line circulation pump station near the liquor store, make a water main loop from Mill St. to Highway 16, and improve well number three. Chang proposed installation of a pump protection separator (PPS) at well three to reduce sand pumped by the well. The PPS cylinders would force water to flow in a circular motion, causing the sand to move to the outside and bottom of the cylinders before the water reaches the pumps.

The council ultimately authorized BDM to do the engineering on the in-line circulation pump and well number three improvements. Those two projects will have construction costs of $110,000 to $133,000 and engineering costs of $20,700. Otomo Engineering will do the water main loop engineering with construction cost of around $100,500 and engineering cost of $18,000.

Councilman Norris Kinneberg commented, "Hopefully, this will start a solution to some of the city’s water problems."

Other business

The council also:

• accepted a cable TV franchise agreement with Ace after holding a public hearing;

• instructed staff not to allow excess comp time to be accrued by police officers and directed staff to pay overtime to officers with excess hours already built up;

• set July 14 as the public hearing on an administrative citation ordinance after hearing from Police Chief Stensgard that the state is raising speeding tickets to $110. The administrative citation would cost a speeder $65 with the revenue going into the city’s general fund rather than to the state;

• recommended increasing ambulance base rate to $375 in an effort to make up for a shortfall from the Federal government and Medicare funding;

• reinstated lap swim at the pool with the provision that a fee of $40 be charged to cover costs;

Generator Decisions

After finishing the more mundane council business, the council returned to the standby generator issue. If the council had hoped for the public to leave after the earlier citizen input session, they were disappointed. The full audience remained to hear Steve Schreurs of Associated Consultants Engineering present the pros and cons of the proposed sites and attempt to answer questions posed by them earlier in the evening.

Schreurs informed the audience that the project does not currently qualify for renewable energy credits, but could potentially if biodiesel (soy oil) was used in the future. Answering questions about guaranteed rates for the generators’ life and guaranteed incentives, Schreurs said nothing was guaranteed except that "the cost of electric energy won’t go down." The contract from Dairyland Power is not for the life of the generator (around fifty years) so there is no guarantee on the income for the life of the equipment.

Schreurs gave as pros for the substation site the fact that it is close to the substation and is the lowest cost; cons were space limitations in case a fifth or sixth generator are needed and it would require a lot of site work to carve into the bluff.

Pros for the bluff site were stated as the distance from residences and less effect of noise and air pollution; cons were poor accessibility, five percent more cost and security issues.

The industrial park site cons included: further distance from residences, potential growth of city would be in the direction of the industrial park, if customer choice becomes a possibility businesses in the park could chose to purchase from the city,

generating at 12.47 KV would be an investment in the future since voltages may go to 12.47 KV with community growth. Cons for the industrial park included the fact that it was the most expensive location, it would require more equipment to distribute at 12.47 KV with a stepdown transformer at the substation and controls between the two sites.

Taking into consideration the public input, the council opted to hold another public meeting July 7 before deciding on a location.

Council member Ron Mireau stated, "If we run a distribution line from the industrial park, we need to give the people there a chance to respond."

Council member Nancy Benson, agreeing to the need for another meeting, added, "We’re nothing without the citizens." Mayor T.S. Roberton, a longtime opponent of extra meetings, concurred that this issue deserved a special meeting.

In a final decision for the night, the council chose to accept the bid from Ziegler Power Systems on 2200 kW caterpillar generators with manual controls, purchasing three generators ($916,567 apiece after an eleven per cent quantity discount.)

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