The Lamar Utilities Board tabled a decision on a new, four year agreement with NMPP, Nebraska Municipal Power Pool. The organization provides electricity, natural gas and related services to a host of communities in six regional states. The four year agreement with Lamar Light and Power was for, “Financial Plan, Cost of service and Rate Design Study”. Light Plant Interim General Manager, Houssin Hourieh, told the board the contract, $17,700, could be paid upfront or in annual installments. Board member John Munez asked, “Are we getting our money’s worth for the $17,000 on this rate study?” ARPA General Manager, Rick Rigel replied that rate estimating can be more art than science, but believed that the projections provided in the last study were reasonable. He added matched against other comparable organizations, NMPP is charging less than some firms that provide these services. LUB attorney, John Lefferdink recommended that if the board decides to renew, they stretch the payments over four years. The board decided to table action on the contract until more information has been supplied by NMPP in light of the changes the power plant has experienced in the past two years as well as power market fluctuations.
Hourieh provided a January financial update on plant operations for the board, noting that total operating revenue for January is $1,234,474 with total operating costs at $885,089 which puts gross operating income at $349,385. Net income for January was $258,149 once non-operating revenues and expenses had been deducted. A year-to-date comparison with 2011 shows revenues from retail sales are up 1.7%, or $175,342 comparing this January to last. Purchase orders of $45,462 were approved, along with the payment of bills of $792,687.95.
This year, three trainee jobs will be open for the plant’s annual Summer Youth Employment program. The positions begin June 4 and run for eight to ten weeks, allowing local youth to gain experience in the electric utility industry. The trainee positions are for: Apprentice Line Worker, Plant Maintenance mechanic and Systems Maintenance. Candidates between 18-21 years need to have completed their junior year of high school and should apply before May 18.
The majority of ARPA General Manager’s report to the board was conducted in executive session, but he briefly touched upon the recent trip local representatives made to the Repowering Project’s boiler manufacturer, Babcock & Wilcox. Fourteen engineers from the manufacturer met with plant officials and consultants last week, receiving a briefing on efforts to correct power production and emission standard levels needed to operate the boiler at peak capacity. With regard to ARPA, Rigel said in his systems operating report that there is no immediate need for an Electric Cost Adjustment this year as rates are 6.3% less than the year before and the plant’s 1.25% debt service requirement is still being covered. Rigel will present the ARPA annual report this Thursday, April 26, at Otero Junior College in La Junta.
By Russ Baldwin