Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The Gardner Utility Advisory Commission met on Jan. 5 and considered recommendation of a contract for electrical substation work. Also, city staff reviewed utility outage reports and project updates for electric, water and wastewater services.

Discussion Items
Gonz Garcia, utilities director, reviewed the fourth quarter and year end outage report.
In 2016, electric staff responded to 29 outages affecting 2,631 customers. The average length of the outages was 1 hour and 7 minutes.
The primary cause of the 29 outages was 13 incidents involving animals, followed by equipment problems causing 11. One outage was caused by trees and two by storms. Two more were caused by ‘others’ – both of those involved trucks knocking down lines.
Garcia noted that the 29 outages are a big reduction from the 52 that occurred in 2015 and 53 in 2014.
Garcia also reviewed the 2016 Sewer Program and the 2016 Water Program.
Roughly 21 percent of the city’s 109 miles of sewer lines were cleaned/inspected in 2016. At that rate all sewer lines would be inspected about every five years.
The inspection process involves sending a camera through the lines. Garcia said that the city hoped to get newer equipment which allows one person to do the whole job, as opposed to three persons to operate the older inspection equipment.
Gardner has about 136 miles of water lines, 2,394 water valves and 1,104 water hydrants.
In 2016, roughly 47 percent of the water valves were exercised.  At that rate, all city water valves would be exercised roughly every two years.
There were five water main breaks during 2016, also a reduction from the previous year.
Garcia told commission that the annual pond clean-out at Hillsdale Lake Water Treatment Plant was in process and should be completed in a week or so.

New Business
Commission considered recommendation to council, to approve a supply contract to fabricate and furnish two substation relay panels.
John Krievens, staff electrical engineer, gave the background on the item. This is connected to a 2015 outage that affected 1,400 customers.
In June 2016 city council approved a contract to replace defective  transmission relay lines that contributed to the 2015 outage.
In the process of installing that new equipment, staff and contractors have concluded that two substation relay panels also need to be replaced. In addition, staff recommends relocating one of the relay panels from the Moonlight Substation to the control room in Substation 2.

Bid invitations were published and four bids were received. Staff recommends awarding the contract to the lowest bidder, Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Company, for $51,148.41.
Commission unanimously voted to recommend the contract for approval to city council.

Lance Boyd
The January meeting marked the conclusion of eight years of service with the commission for Lance Boyd, vice-chairman.  Mark Baldwin, chairman, thanked Boyd for his years of service and said he had learned a lot from Boyd, who was chairman when Baldwin was first appointed.