JACKSON CENTER — Despite a late winter snowfall the Jackson Center council chambers found all members present and ready for business as usual Monday evening March 13, 2017. The main topic of discussion was the distribution of electricity for village residents and local industry.
Council also learned of a planned power outage to facilitate switching transformers in the village electrical substation; the outage will occur Saturday, March 18, at 6 a.m. and will last approximately 10 minutes.
A detailed and lengthy report was presented by Trey Shepherd, of Sawvel and Associates, concerning a study they conducted to help direct appropriate action needed to improve electrical service.
“We did the study to be proactive versus reactive and determine what is the most cost effective approach” said village Administrator Bruce Metz.
“The nature of our study was to look at the structure of the system as is and identify the alternatives that would best meet the challenges associated with maintaining a reliable source of energy for current and future needs.” said Shepherd, The existing system is old enough that now is the time to consider making improvements before problems arise; doing nothing means waiting until demand exceeds available resources which is not a responsible route to go.”
Shepherd noted that Village Electrical Superintendent Dave Overman has done an excellent job of examining, testing, and maintaining the village electrical system and that Jackson Center has greatly benefited from his expertise.
“Dave has done a super job in keeping things in good working order; during our inspection we were impressed with the condition of the equipment considering it’s age” Shepherd said, “It makes a big difference over time when things are properly cared for and the village has prospered from Dave’s efforts.”
Shepherd noted the two big transformers currently in use are due for replacement with one being 40 years old and the other 45.
“Though well maintained, growth encourages replacement of old equipment, when equipment gets this many years on it failures are a lot more likely to occur” Shepherd said.
Metz agreed citing a situation in the past where a power failure caused quite a stir.
“We were scrambling to get the power back on, and we sure don’t want that kind of trouble to pop up again,” said Metz.
Shepherd noted the bottom line of the study indicated that one way or another, an upgrade or replacement was needed to insure reliable service. Shepherd shared three possible alternatives to advance the system and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each.
“It’s a pay now or pay later situation, there is no perfect answer and you will just have to decide what best suits your situation,” he said.
Cost estimates for upgrading or replacing the system ranged from $2.4 to $2.8 million and depend on whether the village chooses to use the existing base or go with totally new construction.
“The study indicates we can go with options 1 and 2 which are an expensive band-aide or go for the real fix, eventually the upgraded system will still need to be replaced so even though replacement is a little higher up front, it’s the best deal in the long run,” said Metz, who is in favor of a new system.
“Putting in a totally new substation will take approximately 20 months to complete” Shepherd said, noting that much of the time required is due to implementing a bidding process for the work required and acquiring loans to pay for the project. A feasible way to pay for the project might be the use of municipal bonds with a 20 to 50 year life. Shepherd said observing that it would spread out the burden of cost making it more attractive to customers.
Mayor Scott Klopfenstein asked if there was a possibility of getting grant money to help with the project, Shepherd said that it may be possible but was unlikely based on his prior experience. Administrator Metz noted council will decide on which direction to go at the next council meeting.
In other business council approved a resolution authorizing a cooperative agreement for construction of the WWTP improvement project between the village of Jackson Center and the Ohio Water Development Authority.
Council also approved a motion recommending county commissioners accept a bid from $1.26 million bid from Tom’s Construction for the Neighborhood Revitalization Grant/Loan for the Park, Detention Pond and Linden/Davis/South Streets Reconstruction Projects. Funding is made available through a County Development Grant Project and must be allocated by the Shelby County Commissioners.
Metz also shared preliminary plans for a proposed street improvement project near Jackson Center High School; the drawing illustrated what the proposed changes might look like.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.