City to apply for $5m grant for power upgrade

by Todd Brooks

(Editor's note: The original story incorrectly stated the city has already received a $5 million grant for a power grid upgrade, but the city will only be applying for the grant and no funds have been distributed. The headline and story includes corrections throughout. We regret the error.)

The Comanche power grid could receive an upgrade thanks to the Rural Utilities Service Electric Program if a grant is approved, it was announced at last Tuesday’s Public Works Authority meeting.

The $5 million upgrade would include work at the substations and the installations of new transformers. The upgrades would allow the city to triple its current capacity to serve residential and commercial customers.

“That’s important because of things like the new butchery that will be drawing a lot of power,” said Chuck Ralls, city manager. Ralls said it would also be beneficial to any new housing developments that come into the city.

On the city council side of the meeting, the council members agreed to enter discussions with the property owner of 912 Texas Avenue for the purchase of the property. Ralls said the owner had cleared the property of old houses and was now interested in selling.

The city owns the surrounding property and purchasing it would give the city the whole section.

After some discussion about how much they should offer for the property, the council settled on allowing Ralls to negotiate within the amount he is allowed to make purchases without council approval.

In other matters, the council agreed to contribute to the 4th of July fireworks fund. The cost is $11,000 for the show and the account already has just over $9,000 in the account. The council agreed to contribute $3,000. Any monies left over from this year’s show will go toward next year’s fireworks show.

In another matter, the council passed an amendment to an ordinance to put a cap on self-generation of electricity.

“Our wholesale agreement with OMPA restricts us to a maximum of one percent of our total load can be distributed (through generation such as wind or solar power),” Ralls said. “We’re only allowed to get one percent of what we use through distributed generation. What they are finding what is happening is there are solar companies that are going in and selling to an individual the maximum capacity and they’re using it as a revenue generator. So They’re essentially creating a power company within the city. And that prevents anyone else from being able to utilize that service. What this does is restricts people to their prior peak load.”

The amended policy restricts how much they try to sell back to the city.

“It’s just making it fair and equitable to all,” Ralls said.

Before the meeting, Cory Faulk was sworn in as the new Comanche police chief.