MUC OKs emergency repairs to critical power plant pump
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved a decision by utilities staff to order emergency repairs to a critical power plant boiler pump. The commission approved an $85,816 proposal from Union Pump of Battle Creek,...
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved a decision by utilities staff to order emergency repairs to a critical power plant boiler pump. The commission approved an $85,816 proposal from Union Pump of Battle Creek, Mich., to make the repairs.
The pump, powered by a 400-horsepower electric motor, is original to the 1948 power plant and circulates water through the boiler and turbine system. The need for the repair was discovered as employees were completing the power plant's five-year inspection and maintenance program.
"We felt we had to proceed with repairs before the commission could approve the expenditure,'' said Bruce Gomm, utilities general manager.
He said a backup pump has been installed. Repairs will take from three to four weeks.
The city charter does not officially allow for this type of procedure, Gomm said. The charter specifies how the bidding process must work if expenditures exceed a certain amount. Gomm said a new pump would have cost up to $175,000 and would have taken two years to obtain.
"There are a couple of companies that can possibly do it,'' he said. "We felt this company was the most qualified.''
City Attorney Rich Ronning, who attends utility commission meetings, said he did not see any issue with the charter requirements due to the emergency situation "and very probably one-source supplier.''
In other business, the commission delayed action on a proposal to make repairs to the two coal storage silos sitting next to the power plant. The utilities received a $152,079 proposal from Marietta Silos of Marietta, Ohio, to repair structural problems, cracks and deteriorating concrete.
Marietta, which built the silos, said it needed a decision by the utilities within a week to place the repair work on the company's summer schedule. Gomm said the utilities has issues with the silos, but the structures "are not in as dire shape as we thought.''
Ronning advised the commission to seek repair bids.
In other business, the commission discussed the possibility of establishing an advisory committee to make recommendations to the commission but would not have voting authority. The commission agreed to have the idea discussed by the planning committee.
The idea arose because commissioner Mike Burgett, whose three-year term expires in December, now resides outside Willmar and is no longer eligible to serve on the commission.
Burgett, who continues his law practice in Willmar, said the city has invested money in training him in utility issues and he said he would still like to stay involved.
Commission Chairman Bob Bonawitz said the idea makes sense.