Amy Cunningham
[email protected]

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.”