Danedri Thompson
Gardner Electric managers presented to the electric utility board an aggressive list of maintenance projects for this fall and winter.
The list includes at least one upgrade or maintenance project a month for the next eight months.
“This is kind of what we have planned for right now,” Darrin McNew, electric operations supervisor, told the board at a meeting Sept. 6.
The budget includes funding for all of the projects but one – gas pipeline repair and testing the energy company intends to do this month as soon as the temperatures drop.
Gardner Energy recently discovered a leak in its natural gas pipeline.
“You can never really plan for a leak,” McNew explained.
Repairing the leak will require testing on exposed pipeline and excavating additional sections of pipeline near Santa Fe and Cedar Niles Roads for additional testing.
In October, the organization will upgrade a transformer by exchanging it with a spare. McNew explained that the transformer has issues with moisture in its oil. It’s cheaper to replace the transformer than to repair it, he said.
When Gardner Energy upgrades a second transformer in February, they’ll use the existing one as a spare. McNew said the transformer is being upgraded because the existing transformer is near capacity. The new one will be responsible for serving the new schools currently under construction in Gardner.
Other projects on the list include upgrading software that starts generators during black-outs. Officials anticipate that the software will be upgraded remotely in November by an engineer in New York.
Additional projects will include upgrading outdated relays at substation 1, upgrading generation and relay controls, switchgear upgrades and annual maintenance and testing.
“This is the probably the most aggressive maintenance to be done – especially during the fall and winter,” Bill Krawczyk,  electric director, told the board.
In other business, the board:
• canceled a scheduled Sept. 17 work session
• agreed to purchase a used backhoe for $69,060 plus tax. The board budgeted $65,000 to purchase a new backhoe last year, but put the purchase on hold after learning a new backhoe would cost $80,000. The organization’s existing backhoe has 6,700 hours of operation, and Krawczyk said, its boom is getting very loose and sloppy creating a potential safety hazard.
The used backhoe is part of a rental fleet and has 178 hours of operation.
• agreed to finalize and implement a ratemaking policy for Gardner Energy.