City Won’t Make $400K Change To New Substation
The Vermillion City Council won’t be pursuing a design alternative to the city’s new northeast electrical substation that’s scheduled to be constructed in 2017.
Earlier discussions about the substation’s design included the possible addition of a “ring bus” which would have allowed an addition of a transmission line to the substation sometime in the future.
During the city council’s noon meeting on Oct. 3, city council members expressed reluctance in making changes to the substation’s plans. Those design alterations would cost approximately $400,000, according to Monty Munkvold, superintendent of Vermillion Light and Power.
The total budget for the new substation, not including the ring bus addition, is nearly $5.5 million. Adding the ring bus to its design would boost its total cost to over $5.8 million.
“This is what we need to discuss,” Munkvold told council members. “The third bus is for a third feed some year, if we wanted to do it, or if it ever came to fruition.”
That electrical feed may come from the Rasmussen substation, or perhaps from Beresford. The Rasmussen substation, belonging to East River Electric, is located nine miles east of Vermillion.
“We don’t know if it’s going to happen. It might not ever happen, but it might five years down the road, or 20 years down the road,” he said. “It would cost $400,000 to set it up now for the future, but it may be something that we may not ever use.”
Munkvold made it clear what the city might face should it not include the capability for an additional ring bus in the substation’s design, and sometime in the future there would be a need for it.
“In the future, that $400,000 could be $1 million, and it could cause us to shut down that substation for the work, to rearrange things,” he said. “By doing this now, we’re going to save a lot of money in the future, but this may not ever happen in the future.”
The third bus would be helpful in providing redundancy to the city’s electrical system, and would help the city deal with any future, large loads of electricity, if needed.
“It would also help if someone else wanted to tie into our power system through the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) or a different transmission system,” Munkvold said.
“When this project was first on the table, we weren’t looking at tying into Rasmussen,” City Manager John Prescott said. “We weren’t looking at that option. We were looking at what we needed for our system here in the community, and that included the industrial-type growth in the northeast part of the community, to be ready for that.”
Officials of the Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) contacted city officials shortly after the city decided to go ahead with the substation’s construction about adding the $400,000 ring bus to its design.
At that time, Prescott said, city officials were also told that Vermillion could receive funding from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) for making that addition to the substation.
“We’ve had some additional discussions with MRES, and it doesn’t sound like we’ll be able to qualify for those payments from the Southwest Power Pool for this particular piece,” he said. “It’s not completely ruled out, but it doesn’t appear that the odds of us qualifying are in our favor.”
With SPP funding likely off the table, there’s simply not much incentive for Vermillion to spend an extra $400,000 on the substation ring bus.
“What we’re saying is maybe we’re better off taking off this $400,000 piece that we don’t need for our own internal system here,” Prescott said. “It’s not the reason we’re building this. It (the ring bus) doesn’t hurt, but it’s not the reason we’re building this.”
“Is there any reason that Rasmussen would want to kick in money for it?” Mayor Jack Powell asked. “Would there be any benefit to them?”
“They’re owned by WAPA (Western Area Power Administration), I believe … this may not be a good analogy, but there are assets around the country that are owned and built by local people, and if they can string them together potentially, it helps them,” Prescott said. “They aren’t necessarily going to do it.