Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove Urged to Upgrade Electric Utility

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove Urged to Upgrade Electric Utility

Article excerpt

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- As the new millennium approaches, so does a capacity shortage in Green Cove Springs' city-owned electrical utility that could force the city to make improvements costing as much as $3 million.

In 2002 or 2003, the peak demand on the electrical system will begin to exceed its capacity, which could trigger extended equipment failures and power outages, according to the city's longtime electric utility consultant, Frank Alonso of Resource Management International Inc. of Orlando.

To avoid equipment failures and outages, the city should expand its electrical system's capacity, which could cost from $1.5 million to $3 million, Alonso said. And planning for those improvements should begin as quickly as possible, he said.

"There is not much time left to do something," he said.

On Tuesday the City Council authorized Alonso to update a five-year plan his firm submitted to the city in 1991. The $3,500 update will include electrical demand projections, a plan and schedule for improvements and their cost, among other things, and be completed in about 30 days.

"We knew this was coming. We'll just have to bite the bullet and go forward," said Mayor Calvin Wilcox.

The good news, city officials said, is that the crisis stems from growth -- and the resulting increased demand on the electrical system -- rather than faulty equipment or other problems.

"It's almost like something good, that we are growing that much," said Councilwoman Jerry Williams. "You have to spend money to make money."

Alonso said annual electrical demand projections made by the Florida Municipal Power Association, of which Green Cove Springs is a member, have been unrealistic.

The rate of increase for the city's peak demand was 11 percent for 1998. The rate of increase, according to city projections, is supposed to be from 2 percent to 5 percent every year through 2009. …

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