Electric power system improvements main topic of May 3 city board meeting

NEMiss.News Bill Maddox, NALGW Director
NALGW Manager Bill Mattox explains planned improvements in New Albany’s electrical power service.

 

New Albany aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday evening, May 3, to start work on $19.5-million in improvements to the city’s electric utility system.

Bill Mattox, manager of the city-owned New Albany Lights, Gas, and Water (NALGW), asked the board for authority to start the process of selling revenue bonds to pay for the improvements.

The authorization includes engaging bond attorneys and underwriters to prepare the offering for the bond market. Mattox said substantial money would be available from federal grants, so the full $19.5-million would not have to come from bond investors.

The improvements are expected to hold electric power rates per kilowatt hour down during coming decades, thus saving homeowners and commercial operations millions of dollars on their monthly bills.

Debt service on the bonds would be made from NALGW revenue and thus result in no increases in ad valorem tax rates.

Among other things the money would be spent on:

  • Replacing power lines where the wire diameter of lines installed years ago is literally too small to provide sufficient voltage to meet current and future demand. Power lines would be re-configured and rebuilt with higher capacity electrical cable.
  • Implementing monitoring, controls and advanced modeling for real-time information. Presently management of the local power grid is done manually, resulting in loss of energy and delays in making corrections. For example, in the event of storm damage, NALGW crews frequently spend hours, especially at night, driving around the city in trucks with spotlights to determine where power lines have been downed. This results in delays in restoring service and higher labor costs. The improvements would allow the system to be managed with up-to-date monitors, so crews would know immediately what lines need repairs. Mattox said these improvements alone could save NALGW about $200-thousand annually.
  • Demand for electrical power fluctuates throughout the day, with demand being higher in the early evening. The growing use of electric vehicles will cause future power demand to increase even more in late afternoons, when people will be getting home from work and plugging in to recharge electric cars. Modern equipment to “even out” voltage demand would result in better service and better rates for customers.

In a related but separate request Tuesday evening, Mattox received the go ahead from aldermen to pursue development of a solar power generating system that could generate electricity for a much lower price per kilowatt hour than NALGW is currently paying for power purchased from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

In other business Tuesday evening the board of aldermen:

  • authorized Police Chief Chris Robertson to get quotes for insurance on leased police vehicles. This would be done under a system already in use by the New Albany Fire Department.
  • authorized the Parks and Recreation Department to receive bids for repairs to the spray park in the Park-Along-the-River.
  • Discussed development of exercise stations in city parks.

The board scheduled a hearing for the city’s Comprehensive Plan for its June 7 meeting.

It was also noted during the meeting that an estimate of $2.25-million for a community storm shelter had been received.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Aldermen will be on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.

 

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