Mark Taylor
The Gardner Electric Utility Board and the Gardner Edgerton School Board will split the $20,000 cost of providing redundant power at the new elementary and middle school campus.
Electric staff had recommended that the board require the school district to pay for a “loop feed” that would provide back-up power to the schools in the event of an outage.
The loop feed would allow for a redundant pathway to keep electricity flowing through the system while technicians fix the original problem.
“You can get everyone back up while you are working on the problem,” said Brandon McCollum, distribution supervisor for Gardner Energy.
There is no policy in place for redundant power, but Gardner Electric has been requiring it in new subdivisions.
McCollum said no other schools have redundant power, but the new schools — currently under construction on the former Mistele family property in southern Gardner — are the first to be built since the utility board has been in existence.
Gardner Electric’s Director Bill Krawczyk said staff takes “a lot of pride in the level of service we provide to our customers.”
Redundant power could make a difference between minutes and hours during power outages.
But Joel Riggs, a consultant to the school district for Shafer, Kline and Warren, said school officials opposed the redundancy requirement.
He said he didn’t believe spending an additional $20,000 on a loop feed would be a good use of taxpayer’s dollars.
“That dollar amount for a safety net is excessive,” Riggs said.
He said outages have not been problematic at Gardner schools, and added that the schools are only occupied part of the day for nine months a year.
“Our high demand time of the year is not your high demand time of the year,” he said.
Following a lengthy discussion, Ryan Beasley, Electric Utility Board member, suggested splitting the $20,000 cost with the school district.
Board members then voted to split the cost 50-50 and the motion passed.
Eric Shultz, Electric Utility Board member, dissented.