Bill Wootten Replaced on Lamar Utilities Board

Michael Bryant, former Lamar city councilman and director of the Prowers Medical Center Foundation, replaced Bill Wootten as a member of the Lamar Utilities Board during their regular meeting, Tuesday, September 13.  Wootten had stepped down from the board over a year ago, but a replacement wasn’t approved until just recently.  Another opening is also available, as board chairman; Bob Schemahorn’s position with the utilities group has also expired.   

Now that both turbines have been operating, emissions testing and additional tuning will be underway, according to light plant superintendent, Rick Rigel.  The coal fired plant has been running smoothly since mid August he told the board, but the modifications made to the plant’s operation will be put to the full test though the rest of this month.  The light plant crew is also taking daily samples of ash, limestone and coal residues and testing them as well.  Rigel said one area that has always been an operational concern is combustion management, and that area has also seen improvement since the plant came back on line.  Rigel said plant staff will have a better determination on how well all the alterations have performed by the end of September.  Rigel said the expenses from the damages caused by the boiler tube leak this past December amounted to $330,000 and another $100,000 in extra expenses relating to moving the coal out of the storage domes as a security measure.  He said that coal, stored in one position for a period of time, could spontaneously combust.  ARPA will bear some of the cost of the plant’s downtime. 

Light Plant operators met with some of their counterparts from Xcel Energy recently and discussed the events relating to the power outage from this past summer.  Rigel said part of the problem for the lengthy power loss was due to lack of enough staff in the area to deal with the outage.  While the Xcel technicians views operations at Lamar Light and Power and Xcel showed plant staff their converter station, an idea to share mutual training techniques was discussed.  Rigel said it could provide trained, certified staff who would be able to assist restoring power when similar situations occur. 

Light Plant operators are rebuilding the east service to the 69kV sub-transmission line that was damaged by the spring fires, east of Lamar.  The equipment has been in a temporary operating mode ever since.  Several poles were completely destroyed in the fire and those and others that were damaged had to be replaced.  CIRSA insurance will provide coverage for the cost of replacement and repair.  Sales of electricity through August remain above last year by 2.6% and Rigel said sales to the plant’s large commercial accounts are up about 4% over last year and irrigation sales are up almost 11%.  Residential customer sales are down slightly. 

The board went into executive session to discuss an Interconnection agreement with SECPA and a report on the Arkansas River Power Authority Meeting.

By Russ Baldwin


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