ARPA Board Elects Directors, Notes Anticipated Revenue Decline Due to Virus



Election of Arkansas River Power Authority board of officers showed no change in the directors’ line-up from 2019-2020 during the monthly meeting, Thursday, April 30th. Officers are: Rick Stwalley-President, Lorenz Sutherland-Vice President, Gary Cranson-Treasurer, Arvenia Morris-Secretary and Rick Rigel as ARPA General Manager.

Lamar Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh, noted under the operating committee report that expected fire retardant mask should be delivered from FEMA by at least early next week. The masks are for employee’s safety during COVID-19 measures. Hourieh also told the board that Light Plant employees will continue to work split shifts until May 26th and an assessment will be made to continue with those measures. This impacts the workers from the six ARPA member cities including Lamar.

General Manager, Rick Rigel, expressed concern over lack of state directives regarding disconnects of customers for non-payment of bills. The ARPA board said the temporary order expired as of April 30th, the day of the monthly meeting. One caveat Rigel told the board, was that if a municipality was a recipient of federal aid, customers cannot be disconnected during a previously mentioned length of a moratorium. Hourieh said that notices of disconnect will be issued, but the Lamar Light Plant will continue to work with those customers that had been impacted by COVID-19 in their ability to set up a payment plan.

Rigel reviewed the year end financial projections in light of the economic impact being made by the Coronavirus and that sales of electricity have been reduced approximately 4.5% in March from 2019 and further reductions will be noted for April. Rigel noted that the state shut-down orders for businesses were issued in March. He said projection models will show a 10% and 15% reduction in April, a 10% reduction from the budget for May and June and 5% for July and August. He said, “Not all businesses will hit business-as-usual for a few months.” Some accounting will be held for when schools and colleges decide to reopen and a demand for electricity begins again. He hoped that by September, ARPA could be back to its budgeted numbers. He estimated the loss of revenue in the $800-$900,000 range but there is also a reduction in purchased power costs and other criteria which will help leave the budget in pretty good shape.

Rigel reviewed the three phases of dismantling and demolition that will occur for the Lamar Repowering Project as the year winds down. November 13th is the deadline for Phase One, the northside coal handing equipment will includes coal conveyers, limestone and ash silos and coal crusher, all located on the north side of East Maple Street in Lamar. He said there is no hard deadline for taking down the boiler and steam turbine generator in Phase Two, although he would prefer to see a sale of the equipment and there have been negotiations over the purchase. The removal deadline will be 12 months after the sale of that equipment. The final phase is the removal of the two storage domes and tripper houses which would be contingent on the City of Lamar requesting their demolition. He said there have been discussions for repurposing that equipment, but has not had any updates from about two months ago.

In other action, the annual ARPA College Scholarship Program was updated with a total of 15 submissions from high school students from member communities with the exception of Springfield. Winners will receive $1,000 which will be applied to their college education needs. The next ARPA board meeting is set for May 28th, but directors will determine how the meeting will conducted in light of the COVID-19 impact in southeast Colorado.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyConsumer IssuesEconomyFeaturedPublic SafetyUtilities


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