Power costs, water issues on council agenda


How to pay for the costs of electricity from this winter's cold snap and what to do with the city's newly installed water transmission line were among the items debated at Tuesday's meeting of the Wayne City Council.

Andrew Ross, Director of Retail Utility Services and Member Relations talked to the council about the situation that took place in mid-February when there was "unprecedented cold across the entire U.S. The scale, duration and severity of the cold was something that has not been seen in over 100 years. During this event, Wayne was able to generate its own electricity and this was a fantastic savings to the town."

However, even with the city's generation, the city has seen an $800,000 impact on electric costs.

Ross shared with the council three possible ways to deal with the extra costs.

These include doing nothing and having the city absorb the costs from the electric department reserves, raising rates permanently or using a process known as a Power Cost Adjustment (PCA). The PCA allows the city to recover the costs from a specific event for a specific amount of time and sunsets. 

Tim Sutton, head of Electric Production, told the council "we really don't want to dive into our reserves. We are planning some major projects down the road that we need the money for."

Following discussion, council members voted to set a production cost adjustment at $.0124/kWh at Ross's recommendation. This will take effect June 1.

Council received some good news in regard to the water transmission main that was installed last year.

Water/Wastewater Superintendent Casey Junck said that two negative tests have been received from a 2 1/2 mile portion of the line, meaning the water is not contaminated at that point. This was accomplished after the line was "super chlorinated."

The next step in the process is to remove an air release valve and send it to the manufacturer to be tested.

Roger Protzman with JEO explained to the council what has been done and provided his suggestions on what the city should do in the future.

Council members also heard an update from the Wayne Green Team.

Sandy Brown, representing the group, highlighted activities of the past year, including two Earth Day events and the receiving of $23,000 in grant funds to promote recycling and recycling education in the community.

She also shared with the council that since the Green Team was formed in 2009, a total of 356,000 lbs. of material has been diverted from the landfill.

A community usage survey was recently completed in regard to the Wayne Recycling & Trash Center (RTC) - formerly the Transfer Station. Brown said among the comments from the survey was having the RTC open evenings.

Council discussion from Brown's presentation included how to monitor the RTC to make sure those using it were disposing of materials properly.

Brown said the RTC is a partnership between the city and Waste Connections and noted that education needs to continue to make sure the community needs are being addressed.

Water was also the topic of discussion when several members of the Wayne Agricultural Society came to the council asking the city to forgive a sewer bill of over $6,000 due to a frozen water line that broke in early February.

Doug Temme, President of the Ag Society, said a water line broke and flooded the Commercial Building. He said that the Ag Society pays double for water and sewer because the fairgrounds are outside city limits.

He also said that when the line broke, the majority of the water did not go into the city's sewer system, but instead, went out the building. 

Council members debated options for dealing with the situation, noting they did not want to set a precedent with their decision.

However, it was noted that the Ag Society is funded with tax payer dollars, just like the city.

Following discussion, council members voted unanimously to waive the entire sewer bill for that time frame, noting that the Ag Society had already paid double for the water used.

Resolution 2021-25 was approved. It allows for a community-wide blanket construction permit between the City of Wayne and Black Hills Nebraska Gas, LLC, doing business as Black Hills Energy. The permit would be for 2021 and the company will need to come back to the city for a permit for work planned for 2022. 

Several representatives with Black Hills Energy were present to explain the work that is going to be done in the northeast portion of Wayne, near Wayne State College. They explained that having a blanket permit would allow the work to be completed in a more timely manner.

The cost of the permit is $800, which is higher than similar permits issued in this manner. This is due to the fact that city crews will be moving gravel from alleys involved in the project so it can be replaced.

A bid was accepted for labor for installation of a sprinkler system at Hank Overin Field. Work will begin after this year's baseball season

The city will provide the materials as they can be purchased from a supplier the city uses for this type of project.

It is anticipated that this portion of the project will be completed between June 1 and Sept. 30 of this year. 

The Wayne City Council will next meet in regular session on Tuesday, May 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Wayne City Hall council chambers.