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Council approves city fuel upgrade

Power line maintenance contract, evaluation of solar array proposals at treatment plant also moving forward


Last updated 2/18/2021 at 11:41am

CHENEY — The City Council gave its blessings to an expansion of the Public Works fuel station, a renewing of the annual powerline clearance contract and reviewing proposals for a photovoltaic facility at the wastewater treatment plant at its first meeting in February last Tuesday.

The proposed fuel station upgrade will install a 70-inch diameter, 24-foot-6-inch, 4,000 gallon “split” tank capable of holding 2,000 gallons each of diesel and unleaded gasoline, Public Works Director Todd Ableman said. The city currently has a 2,000 gallon diesel tank at the wastewater treatment plant and a 1,000 gallon diesel tank at the Utility Building.

Ableman said they asked the city’s fuel provider, Whitley Fuel, to source several bids for the work, and settled on a low bid of $65,499 by NWESTCO to purchase the tank and card-reader system. NWESTCO is listed on the state’s contract for approved suppliers of such equipment.

“It’s a pretty good package when we get everything up and running and I think it’s going to serve the city well,” Ableman said.

The overall budgeted amount for the fuel station upgrade is $75,000. A portion of the project, $40,000, will be paid for through a five-year interdepartmental loan from the Solid Waste Fund to the Mechanical Shop Fund, which is where the city covers its fuel expenses.

Finance Director Cindy Niemeier explained that the loan would be repaid at a 1.14% interest rate – which is the rate of interest earned through the State Investment Pool plus 1%. The city will add a couple cents to each gallon sold to the various departments to help cover debt service, maintenance, insurance and other items.

“We’ll come up with that exact funding at a later date and I’m happy to report back on that but I think this is a doable repayment schedule over five years,” Niemeier said.

In making a motion to approve the upgrade, Councilman Paul Schmidt said the move would be cost effective for the city as well as provide a fuel resource should an emergency prevent local gas stations from operating.

“And it’s also, it’s pretty foolproof with regards to employee use so I’m in support of it,” Schmidt added.

Council also approved renewing the city’s power line clearance contract with Asplundh Tree Expert, LLC. Light Department Director Steve Marx said the original contract executed last year allows for three, one-year renewals at $60,000 each year. Marx said the company has done a good job of pruning and removing trees threatening the city’s power system.

“We’ll get the same bang for our buck this year as we did last year,” Marx added.

Finally, the council approved a resolution proposed by Ableman to ask the city’s Public Works Committee to assist with review of two requests for proposal for a photovoltaic solar array alternative energy source at the wastewater treatment plant. Ableman said the city put out a request in December, 2020, for an energy services, performance-based energy contract, and received what were essentially design-build proposals from consultants Apollo and McKinstry.

Ableman said they are asking the consultants, given their background and experience in design, to take a look at what such a facility would cost to install, how much of a payback on energy savings the city might realize from the facility along with managing the design/installation contract and write grants to pay for the project.

“There’s a lot of moving parts in this request for proposal, so I reached out and tried to ask for maybe a little help and came up with requesting that the public works committee help me out to review these,” Ableman said, adding there is an established scoring criteria to use in the review.

Mayor Chris Grover said the motion was essentially to have the committee review and “dig deeper, drill down a bit more on these RFPs,” which committee members Schmidt, Vince Barthels and Dan Hilton said they were willing to do.

John McCallum can be reached at


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