Monday, July 28, 2014

City OKs electrical upgrade

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 3/10/2014

The electrical grid serving the west side of downtown Main Street appears to have a bright future.

Ottawa city commissioners voted 4-0 last week to approve a $750,000 electric distribution circuit upgrade.

“The upgrade primarily [serves] the downtown area on the west side of Main Street,” Jim Bradley, city utilities director, said.

The upgrade, which increases the power from 4,160 volts to 12,470 volts, should improve the reliability of the system and allow for future growth with the expanded voltage, Bradley said.

Scott Bird, city finance director, told commissioners the city had funding available to pay for the work.

“We will pay cash between the electric fund and electric construction fund, which has funding for this type of project,” Bird said.

The upgrade also will remove electrical circuits from an obsolete canopy structure in the alley on the west side of Main Street, between Second and Third streets, which dates to the 1960s, Bradley said.

“If we have an issue with that [circuit] now, we are going to have an extended outage, so the No. 1 advantage [to the upgrades] is that it adds reliability — basically we’ve outgrown [the technology].”

Richard Nienstedt, city manager, said the upgrade improves safety, especially in the area around the canopy.

The distribution circuit upgrade is sorely needed, Blake Jorgensen, city commissioner, said.

“We definitely needed to upgrade our downtown district, and take it from 1960 technology to this century,” Jorgensen said. “A lot of demands have changed dramatically in the last 50 years.”

Once the electrical circuits have been removed from the canopy, Jorgensen said, he would like to see the canopy removed as well.

Capital Electric, Kansas City, Mo., has submitted the low bid for the project, though Bradley said the contract has not yet been awarded.

The commission’s action Wednesday provided a green light to proceed with the project.

Of the 11 bids sent out, only two companies submitted bids, and both came in at more than $600,000, Bradley said. Capital Electric, after some negotiating, reduced its bid to $490,000.

The other costs associated with the project are tied up in materials and other expenses, Bradley said.

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