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.