October 31, 2014

Utility board hears performance report

Amy Cunningham
acunningham@gardnernews.com

Gardner Utility Board members had the opportunity to review the Gardner Energy’s performance when they received a report measuring that information over the past seven months at their meeting on Thursday evening.

“At the time of ‘keep or sell’ the one thing we had to offer our customers was response time (to outage reports),” Bill Krawczyk, Gardner Energy’s Director, stated. “Since that time KCP&L has undergone several rate hikes and they have an 86 minute response time.”

The report, which analyzed GPS tracking information from crew member’s trucks, shows that Gardner Energy takes, on average, 24 minutes from the time the call goes out until a lineman is on the scene responding to the complaint; during the normal work week hours the team has an average response time of seven minutes, on after-hours calls they average a 35 minute response.

“We knew the one thing we could control is how quickly we respond,” stated Krawczyk. He said that one way the city handles that is to require employees to live within 15 to 20 minutes of the shop where they report for duty.

The report shows that in 2010, the utility experienced 48 outages; of those the average outage time was one hour and 53 minutes. The longest call required 14 hours and 15 minutes to fix, however Krawczyk explained that call had extenuating circumstances – a drunk driver struck a pole on a major circuit.  Krawczyk recalled crews working non-stop, without breaks, to complete the repair.

The director said the utility will focus on variables they can control to prevent power outages including trimming trees that may affect power lines and installing squirrel guards.

In other business:

•EUB members voted to authorize Gardner Energy to participate in the Kansas Mutual Aid Program for Utilities (KSMAP).

According to Krawczyk, this no-cost program would be the second such mutual aid program the city would participate in, having already enrolled in one sponsored by the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency. He said the KSMAP program is more local than the one sponsored by the KMEA which runs state-wide.

Mutual aid programs are designed to provide assistance for member organizations in distress; as available, participating municipal utilities may choose to send their crew members to assist other member organizations during a disaster such as the 2002 ice storm.

“It’s mainly resources for us if we have a storm,” commented Brandon McCollum, distribution supervisor for the utility. He said that members would only expect assistance if Gardner Energy could spare the manpower.

“All cities, when they’re in a bind, they’re begging for help,” added Krawczyk.

•Board members approved a revised version of Electric Service Standards. Krawczyk said the previous standards were put into place by the utility in 2007.
McCollum explained that standards should be reviewed every three years.

“National electric codes change every three years and KCP&L revises theirs every three years,” he stated.

•Krawczyk also continued discussion on the 2010 budget, informing the board that he expects final numbers to be in by next month. Currently, he said, revenue numbers show the utility conducted $14.3 million in business – up from the $13.8 million the group projected for 2010.

“From a revenue standpoint we had a pretty good year,” he said, explaining that final numbers would be in by the end of month 14.  Krawczyk attributed the revenue bump to an unusually cold winter and a hotter summer.

•The group is planning several big budget projects for 2011 including wrapping up a cable replacement project in Parma, started in 2010, which Krawczyk estimates to be 50 percent complete. He also pointed to a plan to extend the reach of Gardner Electric to the east side of U.S. Interstate 35.

The project is in anticipation of a Lowe’s Home Improvement store to be constructed at (Clare Road and 175th Street).

“Darrin (McNew, operations supervisor) and I tried to look at what will happen when they start development on the east side of the highway,” Krawczyk said. “We’re trying to look forward.”

Comments

  1. Vernon Kauffman says:

    Electric Utility Board:
    In regard to the electric board costs should be considered. What is the total cost to own trucks, pay employees, benefits, pensions, etc as well as response time. I personally have worked in the utility industry all my career. Private companies owning and running utilities also pay property tax to the city and county in which they operate. Every pole, wire, etc is a unit of property and goes into a tax base.

  2. Sad to say but I lost confidence in the Electric Board when they pulled that manipulating move to get raises for city employees and I feel sure Drovetta was in on that one too. I don’t have any problems with the electric employees but I certainly have a problem with these Board members and city officials who were considering using electric funds to help out the city. We had too much of this mixing of money in the past and which I don’t think benefitted the people. You give these entities the opportunities to do the right thing but time and time again the people making the decisions don’t seem to even recognize what the right thing is any more. This response time to me is of little relavence since one hour or two hours isn’t that important but the integrity and ethics shown or not shown by the Electric Board and the city of Gardner is very important to me. The quality of the Electric Board rests on the appointments made by the Mayor and in my mind I know some poor appointments have been made.

  3. Shari Burns says:

    @Vernon Kauffman – What I know is that my Kansas city power and light bill went up 35% last month and I have no other option – I did call kcpl to let them know how unhappy I was. I never was able to talk to a person-just left a message and never got a call back. How much did your bill go up? Plus they took away the special rate given to all electric homes. I compared rates, kansas city power and light was higher than gardner. I think union wages have something to do with it.

  4. Shari: You can go to http://www.kcplenergyplan.com/ to get their propaganda on their rate increase. All of KCP&L’s rate increases have to be approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission which you should keep in mind and watch the news closely to see when KCP&L has filed for a rate increase and then be sure to contact that Commission and let them know of your concerns. KCP&L normally will always ask for twice what they want knowing they will only get half of that amount and that is about what happened on this last increase. Keep in mind KCP&L said part of this increase was needed for the cost of the new power plant at Weston which is a COAL-FIRED POWER PLANT – that puts the cherry on the top of the cake since that will also adversely affect the health of citizens.

    Here in Gardner the Electric Board has no one to answer to – if they decide to raise rates, then they will and tough luck if you don’t like it. Same way the city of Gardner operates – too bad if the citizens don’t like what City Hall, the Mayor and the City Administration are doing. In the past, citizens have even asked for a vote on an issue and three members of the Council denied that request. Then you have the recall and you really have a dictatorship with an appointed council – that is my opinion. You just better have the funds to pay the ever increasing tax bill, utility costs, fees, etc. and you have no say in how the status quo government is going to operate to take care of the cronies.

    This is very sad but the same is happening at all levels of government across the nation in my opinion. Citizens are not doing their jobs by their apathy and it will continue to get worse until the light bulb goes off in the citizens’ minds and they figure out they better get decent people to run for office and then go to the voting booth and make some better choices along with paying attention to how their government entities operate before you ever get into that voting booth.

  5. John Rose says:

    The Gardner Electric board represents a utility that is owned by the rate payers. The board works for you, the owners of a public power system. Being part of a public power system in a good thing. We can look into the best options for our utility instead of having no options being part of an investor owned utility.
    I am not going to badmouth anyone, KCPL is a huge utility that can benefit from a large economy of scale. Gardner is not that big, and therefore has to pay what the market dictates. Being independent though allows us to benefit from buying power from low cost producers such as OPPD and Grand River Dam.
    KCPL is investor owned and must earn a rate of return for its investors. Public power systems do not have those issues to worry about. All the money spent by the rate payers go back into the electrical system.
    While no one likes to here of rate increases, in general, public power users enjoy some of the lowest cost electricity in the nation. They also have the most reliable service and best response times in the nation.
    The electric board has done a good job and should be commended for the time they spend working for our utility.

  6. John Rose says:

    Sorry about the spelling…
    Should have read “While no one likes to hear of rate increases…”

  7. If you can turn your head from lack of ethics and integrity, then I suppose about anything will be satisfactory or excellent for you. However, in my opinion, when you are dealing with moral decay then the price will be high for citizens in many, many ways.

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