Electric Study Recommended

ST. MARYS — St. Marys City Councilors next week will vote on a measure that, if approved, would authorize a comprehensive study of the city’s electrical system.

During Monday night’s electric/communications meeting, committee members moved to recommend councilors authorize a study to be conducted by Spectrum Engineering that would examine the city’s electrical system and suggest areas for improvement. Safety-Service Director Jason Little said he opted to suggest Spectrum Engineering following proposals from three firms and conversations with AMP.

“A lot of issues the mayor and I face when we go out and talk with local businesses, they sometimes let us know that our electric isn’t always up 100 percent of the time,” Little said. “We have little blips here and there, nothing major, but a little blip can be a big deal.”

The study will examine the current system and give recommendations on how to reconfigure the system as the city grows. The study also will provide the city with a master plan — something it lacks regarding the electrical system.

“We interviewed three different firms to see which one would do a nice job for us and give us the information we need,” Little said. “I gave AMP a call and said I was looking at these three firms ... And they did like Spectrum. They are all electrical engineers and that’s all they do for a living.”

The price tag of the study is $129,435, which will be spread throughout two years — $51,275 will come out of this year’s budget and $78,160 will come out of next year’s budget. While the cost is high, Little said the city needs the study.

“The first week or so they are going to do a field evaluation of our existing system,” Little said. “They are going to get all the data. From that point on, they are going to look at everything. They are going to model our entire system and we’ll get a copy of that at the end.”

Mayor Pat McGowan noted the study could help find issues that are affecting the city’s electrical system.

“It’s also a good sales tool for us as we do economic development,” McGowan said. “If we can go out and say we’ve got the most up-to-date electrical system with a plan out five years, 10 years, right on up through 25 years that tells us where we need to be ... It will be a tremendous sales tool. And if maybe we can eliminate (outages), maybe it’s just upgrading the equipment we have in the city. This is just something we need to do for our delivery system to our homeowners, and more specifically to businesses. We want to give them a reliable source.”

Safety also is a factor. McGowan said the study could help identify any safety risks posed to workers in the field.

Little noted the study could help officials more accurately compile a budget for the electrical department.

“Once we get our study done, they are going to give us a 10-year plan and that’s really going to help us with our budgeting,” Little said. “We are going to know we need to do this and we need to do that ... Budgeting is huge and you don’t like to guess on numbers. This should help us eliminate the guessing.”

Currently, Spectrum Engineering is compiling a similar study for the city of Bowling Green. Little noted Columbus also completed a study.

“I think it’s your first step in trying to improve your system,” Little said.

Committee member Jim Harris agreed.

“We need to know where we are at before we can do anything,” Harris said.

McGowan called the study a “competitive advantage” over other municipalities in the area. McGowan also noted he could ask representatives from Spectrum Engineering to give a presentation during a future council meeting.

The next meeting of the St. Marys City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the city building located along East Spring Street.