Morenci city council 2012.09.12

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

When a potential industry is searching for a building site with plenty of electricity, Morenci will be ready serve. Make that ready, but with an asterisk.

When city officials met with representatives from Consumers Power recently, they heard the good news that the city’s power capacity had improved significantly after a major line upgrade was completed last year.

In addition, Consumers intends to replace the existing substation in 2014.

“This is very, very good news,” said Morenci mayor Keith Pennington. 

The existing substation is used to about 65 percent of its capacity. With the city’s current electrical load, the new substation would be utilized at just 35 percent.

“Hopefully,” said councilor Brenda Spiess, “this will put us in the running for some new businesses in the industrial park that I think we previously were discounted for.”

Pennington said Consumers aims to build the new substation adjacent to the existing one, across Locust Street in the former Parker property.

“We’ve asked them to consider relocating it to the industrial park, but they believe it is cost prohibitive to do so,” he said. “They don’t readily concur that there’s a real benefit to the city to do that.”

A move would take the structure out of the downtown, he said, and would place it near potential industry, ready to use. If left downtown, new lines would have to be strung to the park for a new business, which would require a lengthy engineering process.

Pennington said he intends to continue exploring the cost of building the new substation in the industrial park and looking at routes to transport power there. Power enters the town from the north over Wakefield Park.

The mayor said he understands there will be an additional cost, but he would like to find out what it is. Then council can make the judgement of whether or not it’s worth the cost. Perhaps the city could obtain funding to assist with the project.

City officials also spoke to Consumers about performing an audit on street lights to make sure the city is billed on a per-light basis. Different kinds of lights result on different costs.

There’s no way to know the outcome of the audit ahead of time, he said. The city might owe more money or it might be in line for a rebate.

Spiess said they were told that Consumers will phase out all mercury vapor street lights over a seven-year period so that only high-pressure sodium lights are used.

In addition, the audit will inform the city about the possibility of using LED lighting that consumes less power but is more costly to purchase initially.

Consumers officials also discussed the current mandate it faces to provide at least 10 percent of its electricity from renewable resources. They also stated their opposition to a ballot issue in the November election calling for a 25 percent Constitutional mandate by 2025.

Consumers claims that in order to achieve the 25 percent level by wind power alone, as an example, turbines would have to be placed closely together along the entire stretch of I-75 from the Ohio border to the Straits of Mackinac, on both sides of the highway.

“Regardless of whether it’s a good idea,” Pennington said, “they think it’s not the type of thing that should be in the Constitution.”

TRASH—Council voted 6-0, with Greg Braun absent, to approve an amendment that makes it illegal to bring trash into the city for disposal.

BRIDGE WALK—City treasurer Crystal White reported that Stair Public Library made more than $1,700 from the Bridge Walk to support the Prime Time reading program.

DAY OF ACTION—Four city employees will participate in the United Way Day of Action Friday morning, helping to paint structures at Wakefield Park.

RENTAL—Council approved a rental agreement to farm vacant industrial park property. S&W Farms will continue to farm the ground and pay $185 an acre on a two-year rental extension.

PAINTING—Council accepted a bid from Teresa Lakatos to paint the exterior of city hall for $1,987, excluding the fascia. A certificate of liability insurance will be required.

DONATION—Former Morenci resident Harry Burdick donated stabilization struts valued at $5,000 to the Morenci Fire Department.

POLICE—Police chief Larry Weeks noted that a third part-time officer has found full-time employment and is leaving the Morenci squad.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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