Trenton Utility Committee ponders upgrades to power generators

Trenton Utility Committee

The three-member Utility Committee last night looked at information and a cost projection regarding a potential upgrade for the program controls on the diesel generators at the south substation in Trenton.

Dennis Robb and Mark Newton of TMU met with committee members David Mlika, Travis Elbert, and Jen Hottes as well as City Administrator/Utility Director Ron Urton.

An upgrade proposal came from Foley Power Solutions for the TMU caterpillar generators stating a new power module costs $56,000 per unit meaning a total cost of more than $392,000 for all seven units. Robb told the committee the current program controls are over 20-years-old and obsolete. He noted four major components in use are not available to purchase. Foley quoted optional replacement of two relays at $28,000.

The upgrade is deemed important should the city find itself having to start up the peaking generators in the event of a prolonged power outage. Urton noted previous capacity tests on the generators had to be done three times, so their reliability is being questioned.

The committee was told TMU needs to be able to generate electricity for its customers rather than always buying from the energy pool that currently involves several municipalities across the state. The city of Trenton earns about $13,000 a month in “capacity credits” from the pool because it has the generators.

The utility committee voted to have the full city council discuss the potential upgrade including the most basic question as to whether the project is financially feasible.

Utility Director Ron Urton gave brief updates on TMU projects reporting the contractor should be finished with the Iowa Boulevard water tower project by the end of the month, meaning it can be filled with water. The contractor would then focus their refurbishing and painting efforts on the Princeton Road tower.

An engineering company continues to refine a proposal for the head works phase of the effluent disinfection project at the sewer plant. It’s also to include a sewer rate analysis now that Nestles has been operating for about three months in Trenton.

Urton reported $100,000 has been put into the TMU budget for sewer line work each year. But he’s suggesting the amount be increased in the next fiscal year because of major expenses anticipated with other upcoming projects.

One project involves a sewer line under a garage at the lower lake with another involving sewer lines on the west side of Trenton and yet another possible location near Pleasant Plain, south of 40th Street in north Trenton.

In response to previous questions from the city council, Urton reported two fire hydrants are obsolete with no shut-off valve located at 12th and Main and Main and Crowder.

TMU has replaced 34 power poles with Urton reporting four taller poles have been installed at the request of Mid States Services and its fiber optics project. The other 30 were described as obsolete.