Columbia Water and Light to ask city for almost $190K for electrical engineer consultants

Money for two different studies

Columbia Water and Light to ask city...

The Columbia Water and Light Advisory Board voted unanimously Wednesday to endorse two different contracts to hire consultants for the city's electrical system.

The board met last week to discuss the contracts, but there were issues that members wanted addressed before they signed off. Board members said that the timeline for the studies was not clear and they wanted a better idea of how long it would take first.

Both of the studies will be centered around the two options the city has identified for additional transmission lines to increase the electrical capacity of the system. Rapid population growth, especially in the southern portion of town, has made this a necessity for the city.

Option A, the original proposal from 2013, has a substation on Peach Court and new transmission lines running down Grindstone Parkway and Nifong Blvd. Residents along that proposed route said the lines ran too close to homes and schools, and many feared adverse health effects from the lines overhead.

The second option, Option E, was proposed last year by Mayor Brian Treece. His proposal did not include a new substation, but it did put the new transmission lines running north of town, where Ameren already owned a transmission corridor.

The first consultant agreement would authorize Columbia Water and Light to hire an electrical engineering consultant from Burns & McDonnell for $91,515.

The Burns & McDonnell consultant would examine the feasibility of adding a parallel transmission line to the Ameren-owned McCredie-Overton 354-kilovolt transmission line. The study would also look at the cost impact of adding a city-owned parallel transmission line and evaluate the route of the added line. Assistant Utilities Director Ryan Williams said they would then compare that cost to the cost of Option A. 

The other agreement would authorize Columbia Water and Light to hire an electrical engineering consultant from Quanta Technology LLC for $97,500.

The Quanta Technology consultant would examine the reliability of the city's current electric distribution system by identifying system deficiencies, provide a comparison with industry best practices and determine if revisions to the entire current system should be considered. Quanta would be looking to see if choosing Option E and working without a new substation would be viable.

The city must find out how to improve and increase electric reliability by 2020, otherwise it could be penalized and fined by the federal government.

Now both contracts head to the City Council for final approval. You can find links to our other reports on the transmission line saga here, here and here.

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