To the Editor:
I would like to make some observations regarding Roberta (Wade)’s column about how the City needs to be held accountable, and the electric fund needs to be audited for various reasons including overbilling. Having worked for a division of Consolidated Electric, and having a grandfather, who amongst many projects, electrified Kelly’s Island for the first time, I have some rudimentary understanding of city power grids.
My first observation, as I look at the power poles in my back yard, is that they are only still standing because the runs from our homes hold them up. They are original – more than 50 years old according to my neighbor. I see lots of poles throughout the city that look questionable.
A second observation is the condition of the substations I pass on Railroad Street and in Heise Park. The substations look very old and very run down, and according to earlier articles are 50 to 60+ years old. Their age, along with the changes in power loads over the last half century would seem to dictate that they need to be updated/replaced.
A third observation is that a line fault near Save-a-Lot takes down a quarter of the city. Modern power grids are designed with reclosers and fuses that separate branches of the grid so a quarter of the city does not go dark because of one tree falling over a power line at the end of a branch. Further, with all of the deferred maintenance on Galion’s power grid – there needs to be a sizable fund for the next derecho, ice storm, or other act of mother nature which would destroy a portion of the grid causing huge costs to repair or replace the damaged portion.
I hope for a response to Roberta’s column, and I hope that a part of this response is how much of the 6.6 million balance in the electric fund is set aside for emergencies, and when and what the plan is to address all of this deferred maintenance.
I’m guessing the cost of the deferred maintenance plus an emergency fund balance will be more than 6.6 million.
A final note, the city could also wash their hands of this, by turning over our electric to an outside provider such as Consolidated Electric Cooperative. CEC’s books are open, their policies are set by an elected board, their power grid is well maintained and up to date, their power rates are stable. Best of all, being a not for profit organization, they return any extra funds that they did not need for maintenance or emergencies to their customers.