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Planned electric work promises more power to city


Sidney's electric department officials are working to bring the city one step closer to a more flexible system offering more power.

The city received bids for a new electrical distribution tie line Sept. 11. The low bid was from Ward Electric Company in the amount of around $230,000. Public services director John Hehnke recommended approval for the bid at Tuesday's city council meeting.

A few years ago the electricity department placed a larger transformer at the north substation, which has the capability to supply more power to town, according to Sidney power superintendent Mike Palmer.

"So what this essentially does is give us another feed into town," he said.

This is the first step in a longer process. The line will be constructed and then a new feeder will have to be built into the substation to pull more power out of the facility.

The city plans to construct the line parallel to an existing line that runs from the north substation and terminates on east Elm. It will connect to give another feed into the north side of town.

Councilman Mark Nienhueser wondered if it would run on existing poles.

"There will be some new build to it," Palmer said. "From the substation, it'll be underground until basically it hits Sky Manor, at that point it'll pop back up and go on the 115 line."

There will be 14 new poles for this new line running down Road 113, which will take the line to East Elm.

Council members discussed easement questions. Palmer assured that that there was an existing easement.

"The new line will be on city property," Palmer said. "It'll be behind the street shops."

Nienhueser wondered what methods the city used to assure that the poles are within the easements. The engineering firm takes care of this, Palmer replied. The locations are verified by GPS. The electric department already checked the easement for the existing line that the new one parallels.

"Actually the road right of way would give us an easement, but it'll be on city property where the new build's gonna be anyway," Palmer said.

The engineering firm is doing the staking for the project, according to Hehnke.

The electric department plans to start the project as soon as possible. The engineering firm will have 90 days to complete work once it is started.

"Really without it, we can't get power out of the north substation," Palmer said.

Hehnke reinforced this.

"We're not using the whole capability of that transformer," he said.

Palmer reminded the council that this is only the first step and he would be coming before the council in the future for continuing phases in the process to get more power out of the station.

"Without the feeder, the line doesn't do anything," Palmer said. "Until we get the feeder tied to this line, ultimately the line won't be used."

Nienhueser asked when the electric department plans to do the next leg of the project.

Palmer replied that they hoped to complete it in the next budget year. Construction for the new distribution tie line will be paid for out of the 2014 budget.

The bid did come in slightly over the budget of $200,000. The material for the line came out of the 2013 budget, which is under expected cost at around $100,000. The electric department budgeted $250,000 for the current year for materials and engineering fees and will probably end up at around $60,000 under budget for that portion of the project.

Palmer estimates that the new feeder, which is the next necessary step to get the transformer to full working capacity, will cost around of $160,000 but does not have any official numbers at this time.

"That's just kind of an estimate," Palmer said.

The council approved the bid and encouraged the electric department to go ahead with the feeder if it had any extra funds in the next year.

"It'll give us a lot of flexibility in our system in things that we can't really do right now," Palmer said. "We'll loop things around a lot better, in a case of some of the outages, it gives us a chance to get it out of a different feed. It's not gonna solve all problems, there's no way around that."


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