Lamar Utility Board Okays Revised Employee Handbook



Lamar Light and Power Turbines

Lamar Light Plant Human Resources Officer, Leala Owen, briefed the utility board members on recommended changes made to the employee’s handbook.  The first updates since 2007.  She said the updates will be consistent with changing employment laws and requirements and the alterations were considered by the Mountain States Employers Council, CIRSA and attorney’s Sam Light and Lance Clark.  Owen added changes were made specifically to allow the light plant to continue to operate as an ‘at will’ employer instead of under contract operations.

Areas reviewed included employment policies, hiring and separation procedures; employee conduct and responsibilities; career development, disciplinary, grievance and appeals action, compensation and vacation, holiday and leaves policy plus other benefits.  All light plant employees will be given a copy of the updated handbook and will need to sign that they have received the updated version.

Purchase orders which required board approval came to $37,917.45 from a total of $59,386.98 and monthly bills were $724,435.10 which included $650,851.24 for power purchases from ARPA.  Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh noted that this is a seasonal low point for power needs.

The Light Plant’s monthly balance sheet was discussed showing cash is up for October at $177,469 from September and accounts receivable decreased by $387,910. Total operating revenue for the month is $1,214,611 with operating costs of $954,995 for gross operating income of $259,616.  The net income for the month is $40,919.

When compared to 2022, revenues from retail sales increased 2% or $246,402 from October 2022 to 2023 and overall operating expenses are down approximately 3% or $362,014, resulting in a net income for the year to date of $159,173.

The board earlier authorized the investment of $5 million in Light Plant funds into two interest bearing accounts, following several months of discussion on how best to invest for a return on those funds.

Hourieh noted the monthly system operating report shows that through the end of October, the plant’s three wind turbines have generated 9,782.33MWH’s of electricity which is about 7.42% lower than the same period last year.  The average capacity factor of 26.30% is lower than last year’s by about 5.32%.  The wind turbine crew completed the annual maintenance program on all five turbines and quotes are being sought for the replacement of the gearbox for Turbine #4.  The Sand Hill solar farm is moving forward.  An array of solar panels is planned to be erected on Colorado Land Trust property in the general vicinity of the 6 million gallon water tanks south of Lamar.  Similar projects are planned for La Junta and Trinidad as part of an overall project to continue to develop renewable power options.

The line crew installed a 25KVA padmount transformer near Summitt and Memorial Drive to supply electricity to two new houses.  Weathercraft Roofing is currently replacing the roof to the Unit 6 building.  Hourieh said that this is a budgeted item. The utility board will hold its final meeting of the year on Tuesday, December 12th.

By Russ Baldwin

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