August 29, 2014

Electric utility board members will consider approving rate policy

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
The Gardner Electric Utility Board will consider a policy to guide electric rates. Board members discussed a proposal during a meeting June 18.
Under the proposal, the utility would base rates on recovering the cost of providing service, creating a stable and predictable revenue stream, and pricing competitively as well as other considerations.
Three members of the utility board debated the merits of a four-page policy proposal, but ultimately decided to consider it more carefully when more board members could be present. Members Ryan Beasley and Lance Boyd were not in attendance.
Mark Baldwin, board member, said the proposal is convoluted.
“I really can’t say it’s bad, though, or that I would change anything,” Baldwin said. “…I would like to see it condensed, but I’m not sure how to do that yet.”
Randy Tedford, board member, said the rate policy, if adopted, wouldn’t be set in concrete.
“It’s a fluid document,” he said. “It’s a starting point.”
The issue will show up on a future agenda.
Board members also tabled two other agenda items – a 2011 budget update and a discussion on the 2013 budget.
Gardner Energy director Bill Krawczyk said city finance staff needs a little more time on both topics.
In other business, the electric board:
• discussed problems with the T3 transformer. According to Darrin McNew, Gardner Electric employee, the transformer was newly installed in spring 2010, but is not working properly. It is still under manufacturer’s warranty, but consultants tested the equipment last week and could not pinpoint the problem.
“It’s a bit of a mystery,” McNew told the board. “Everything’s tested out fine.”
In the meantime, the load for the transformer has been switched to other equipment, but that is a temporary solution.
Krawczyk said if the problem can’t be resolved shortly, the electric utility may switch out the transformer with older equipment.
McNew said Gardner Electric can continue to operate by reverting load to other transformers, but that’s not ideal.
“It puts you in a precarious position,” he explained.
If something else goes wrong, there is no back-up system.
Utility workers will test wiring related to the transformer this week. The manufacturer would like a clear picture of the problem before sending repair technicians.
• considered moving the regularly scheduled July 5 board meeting to July 9. The board’s clerk agreed to consult with the absent board members before officially scheduling a date.

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