An agreement is underway with Alliant Energy to upgrade several pieces of electrical equipment at the water pollution control plant, making the equipment more energy efficient and saving the city money over time.
The Marshalltown City Council approved a second reading of the agreement at its Monday night meeting.
A survey of the plant revealed 19 possible projects that would increase energy efficiency, Bob Ranson, assistant superintendent at the Marshalltown Water Pollution Control Plant, said.
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
The Marshalltown Water Pollution Control Plant, shown here Wednesday afternoon, could see upgrades to several pieces of equipment that would make the plant more energy efficient. The program, financed partially by Alliant, would allow the plant to pay for the cost of upgrading the equipment through its energy bill and could save the plant an estimated $107,000 a year in energy costs.
WPCP staff chose three of those projects to undertake.
Alliant would allow the city to pay back half of the $1.4-million cost financed by the utility through the plant's energy bill over the next five-to-seven years.
"I continue to pay the same I am paying now, but now I am more efficient," he said.
The remaining $776,000 would be city money set aside for capital improvements. However, Ranson said, some of the repairs already need to be done. For instance, included in that city money is $500,000 for a new pump station at the WPCP.
"If we replace it in the new project, we don't need to re-bill it," he said.
Alliant estimates these new energy efficiencies will save the plant $107,000 annually in energy costs, and it guarantees the new machinery will save the plant at least $87,000 per year.
However, the city has already paid Fox Engineering, out of Des Moines, $60,000 to do a study of the plant to upgrade the machinery.
That money is spent even if the council opts not to proceed with the upgrades.
Leon Lamer, at-large council member, voted against the resolution Monday, saying the city shouldn't set aside money for things it doesn't need to replace.
"I'd like to know what equipment that we approved earlier that was a must to do this year that isn't a must, and I want to know why it isn't a must," he told the council Monday. "It shouldn't have been billed on that list if they didn't need to do it."
Lamer said if council had approved the contract without discussion, the WPCP would have spent the money set aside for those upgrades stipulated in the bid regardless if it does them.
He said some of the equipment listed doesn't meet replacement requirements.
"Why are we paying to have them replaced now when they don't need to be replaced?" Lamer said.
At Lamer's request, council pulled the item from the consent agenda for discussion.
Mayor Gene Beach said including the cost of replacing those items, even if the plant does not replace them, is good fiscal practice.
Lori Stansberry, finance director, said any money budgeted for WPCP equipment would carry over into subsequent years and would be earmarked for Alliant projects that have already been included in the 2013 Capital Improvements Plan.
So, if the plant doesn't spend the money this year on the equipment, it can do so later. If the money is unavailable when the equipment needs to be replaced, the city will delay another project, Stansberry said.
The council will discuss the contract again before adopting the resolution.