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Archive for Thursday, October 7, 1999

BALDWIN CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE TO UPGRADE ITS ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

October 7, 1999

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Another delayed test is par for the course given Baldwin's electrical woes.

Baldwin won't be testing its electrical system again Friday morning.

That makes the third time this particular test has been postponed. This time a consultant hired to do the job came down with appendicitis, said Baldwin City Administrator Larry Paine.

Paine is looking at the bright side of the delay.

"We've got a little bit more we can think about and be prepared for the next time we get the test scheduled," he said.

But another delay seems somehow appropriate for a city that has seen its share of electrical jolts, the most recent being the shock of surcharges sent to Baldwin electrical customers last week to cover an extra $300,000 spent by the city during a summer energy crisis. The crisis July 24 through Aug. 5 followed a fire that shut down a power plant run by the Kansas City, Kan., Board of Public Utilities, which helps supply Baldwin power.

The city nearly called for rolling blackouts during that time after one of two city-owned diesel generators broke down.

And storms caused several outages this summer, one of which was complicated by an equipment malfunction. The postponed test is to make sure the malfunction won't happen again and that the city's electric service will switch seamlessly between power supplied by the Board of Public Utilities and power supplied by the city's generators.

The problems come during a time when the city is spending millions to upgrade its neglected electrical system.

Since 1997, Baldwin has built a new substation and upgraded much of the city's electrical system from 2,400 volts to 12,470 volts. The high school should be put on the new system Saturday.

The central and eastern portions of the city should be upgraded to the higher voltage next summer, Paine said.

More work is planned for the following summer.

Then, Paine said, the city should finally be able to return to a more routine maintenance schedule.

"We're making progress," he said.

-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is kblackwood@ljworld.com.

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