Engineering bids for city's outdated electrical lines being researched

Staff writer

Marion City Council approved electrical superintendent Christian Pedersen’s request to look into engineering bids for the city’s outdated electrical lines to present to the council in January.

Currently the city operates on a 2400-volt electrical line that Pedersen projects will be obsolete within the next three to five years. He wishes to replace the outdated lines.

“Everyone is switching to 7200-volt line, and parts for our 2400-volt line are becoming more expensive, because they have to be custom made, and harder to find,” Pedersen said.

Pedersen expects transformers for the line to become nearly impossible to find within the next five years. Pedersen has already completed a majority of the research needed for engineers to lay out a construction plan for the city.

A 7200-volt line loop has been completed by city crews. The project took 10 years and cost around $130,000 to complete.

Pedersen said city crews could hook up the rest of the town to new lines by hiring one extra electrician for three years.

“We could complete the work in-house and save a lot of money,” Pedersen said.

Council members were skeptical that one employee could make a difference on a project that would include removing and hooking up every home and business within city limits and placing them on another grid.

“You’re going to have to go down every street and alley replace every transformer on every pole,” council member Todd Heitschmidt said. “I don’t doubt that you can’t do it, but I doubt it can be done in that time frame when a company can come in and have it done in less than a year.”

The project would not begin until at least the spring of 2014 and cost between $300,000 and $500,000, Pedersen estimated.

The council also agreed to entertain bids for a new web design. City Clerk Angela Lange said a study done on the site showed many key areas with information not being utilized.

“We want to look at a way to make it more user friendly,” she said. “There is a lot of information on the site that maybe another design can allow people to access better.”

The site has not been redone since 2007. The bids will be presented during a January meeting.

The council also approved an ordinance to change the way it handles utility bill complaints. Instead of presenting complaints in front of the council, residents will provide written notice before the billing cycle expires and go in front of a Utility Hearing Board that consists of a city utility supervisor, an appointee from the clerk’s office, the city administrator, and a council member to plead their case.

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