February 12, 2014
RE: Jetmore Power Plant – Inoperable
The following information was released in the Jetmore Republican on 02/11/14. In an attempt to guarantee that all residents have been made aware of the current situation, this same notice is being mailed to each customer. The City strongly believes that mailing this information out, in addition to the newspaper, is necessary so as to give all citizens a chance to prepare in case of an emergency. If you are aware of anyone who does not receive this letter and does not receive the newspaper, please pass this information on to them.
Dear Jetmore Citizen and Electric Utility Customer,
The Jetmore City Council met in regular session Thursday, February 6, 2014 and voted that the Jetmore Power Plant be taken out of service indefinitely. Therefore the public must be aware that in case of a power outage by either the single 69kV transmission line coming to town or the Jetmore Substation, power will not be restored until repairs are made to either the line or substation. In case of a power outage all necessary steps will be taken to restore power immediately, but the Power Plant will not be operated thus outages could be prolonged.
Starting back in November of 2013, the City hired the services of two third-party agencies called Exline, Inc. and Mid-States Energy, both promoted as experts in their field by the Kansas Municipal Utilities (KMU), to come and perform a detailed analysis of the condition of the Power Plant. Both reports came back strongly indicating that due to the state of disrepair in the plant, the engines and control systems are no longer safe for operation and should therefore not be operated until repairs occur and/or replacements are obtained. The danger is that to city employees and other city assets. In their report given to the City, Exline says of Engine #5:
“This unit has crankshaft alignment issues caused by a deteriorating foundation and bedframe misalignment. The crankshaft web deflection is .0075” at the #8 web. The industry standard for a crankshaft of this size, is a web deflection that does not exceed .002. When the unit is running, this crankshaft web is opening and closing (bending) .0075” with every revolution of the crankshaft. Continued operation of the unit in this condition WILL result in crankshaft failure. In the event of such a failure there is no guarantee that all the rotating parts would stay contained inside the engine.”
Similar notes were taken of Engine #2. The overall costs that the City has been given thus far by both companies to make necessary repairs and corrections to Engines #1, #2, and #5 result to the amount of approximately $1.5 million to $2 million. The total cost would of course not be known until the engines could be completely dismantled and each item examined during repairs and overhaul. Items that must be repaired, replaced, or spent on include rod bearings, main bearings, rings, heads, foundation, control panels, breakers, crankshafts, Rice Neshap compliancy, etc. The list is unfortunately lengthy.
Due to the hazards present, the City Administrator made the recommendation to the Council that the Power Plant be taken out of service. The risk to employee safety is too great and the city cannot knowingly place employees in to harms way by running the engines in their current condition.
While trying to understand why the engines came in to this condition is an endeavor of futility as it does not solve the problem, the public have the right to know the facts. The Jetmore Power Plant has seven engines numbered 1-7. Two engines are inoperable, two additional engines have not been operated in a nearly a decade or more making their reliability and safe use unknown and at best questionable, leaving engines #1, #2, and #5 which have been used primarily to feed the town during outages over the past 30 years. According to vintage details, the newest engine in the plant is 60+ years old.
Starting in 1979, the City of Jetmore entered in to an agreement to purchase power wholesale off of the transmission network. This meant that the Power Plant no longer needed to be operated continuously. Starting in the early 1980s, the City began to reduce the number of full time staff and shifts in the plant. Over time, running the plant became less of an occurrence to the point today where the engines are only operated once or twice a year. Subsequently, the engines have seen 30 years of maintenance becoming less and less frequent. When one considers the age, the difficulty to find parts, the wear and tear, and the years of non-routine maintenance, it becomes clear that serious issues will arise. The City of Jetmore must now unfortunately face the product of these factors.
The City Council, working with the City Administrator, is considering all options in regards to repairs and replacement. Nothing can be done over night as the lead time for even purchasing and installing a new or used engine is measured in months if not years. All necessary steps to handle a crisis are being taken by the City Staff. Efforts to reach out to the County Emergency Manager, Kansas Mutual Aid (KSMAP), fellow cities, and other resources are occurring. While the City has been fortunate to have immediate recovery following a power outage in the past, such a scenario is unlikely for future power outages.
The City of Jetmore apologizes for the inconvenience that this will bring. Please be rest-assured that the problem is being worked on as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you have any questions, please contact the City Administrator at the Jetmore City Office.