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LUB approves contract with Powell Valley Electric

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By PETER SAWYER

 Monday night, the LaFollette Utilities Board approved two interconnection agreements with Powell Valley Cooperative.

The board approved $700,000 to fund about seven miles of line work. The other agreement funds $367,000 for substation modification and lightning protection at the substation in Harrogate.

This work is necessary to move forward with installing a loop feed at the PVEC substation in Harrogate, which will allow LUB to reserve capacity and have backup power for the eastern portion of the system during emergencies, LUB General Manager Kenny Baird said. 

LUB will be able to use this loop feed while completing maintenance work in the eastern portion of the system. About 8,000 people live in that area, which is about a third of the system, Baird said.

LUB has been working to get a loop feed with PVEC since 1998, Baird said.

“This is an operations goal we’ve had for years and years,” Baird said.

With the completion of the project, LUB will have a loop feed to all the substations in the system, Baird said.

Radio upgrade

The board approved Baird’s proposal to upgrade LUB’s radio system.

“We’ve been talking for years about upgrading (the) system,” Baird said.

LUB currently has an analog system, and there are some spots where the radios in the trucks can’t communicate with the one another, or the office.

Baird proposed installing three digital repeaters on Big Cliff, Caryville Mountain and Walnut Mountain. The proposal costs $322,689. This price tag doesn’t include the new station house and generators at the sites.

Water System

Board member Kent Younce raised concerns over the sewer system.

“I think we have a great electric system, I think we have a great water system, I just think we need to work on the sewer system,” Younce said.

“We’ve been behind the eight ball,” Baird said. “I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It takes time and a lot of money.”

The Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation has been pleased with the work LUB has done, Water Department Head Eddie Troxell said.

LUB has implemented good rehabilitation, but more is necessary, Younce said. He recommended considering incremental rate increases so LUB can begin solid rehabilitation.

“I want to do everything we can to help you,” Younce said.

2013 Budget Forecast

The board approved the 2013 fiscal year’s budgets and financial forecasts. According to these, the electric department will begin the fiscal year with a $7.1 million cash balance and about a $1.43 million net income. The ending balance will be about $3.6 million. The water department will begin the fiscal year with a cash balance of $83,000 and net income of $243,497. It will end the year with $40,705. These are predictions, Baird said.

“We have cash at the end of the year, which is always a good thing,” Baird said.