Repeating her concerns about the Pioche Public Utilities (PPU), Pioche resident Carol White made a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners July 2, regarding her claim of “questionable acts and actions” of the survey conducted in 2017 by the Pioche Town Advisory Board.
In a letter to the editor in the June 29 issue of the Record, White said she also planned to discuss why the “county commissioners continue to act in direct violation of Nevada law in delegating authority to the advisory board which they are expressly prohibited from delegating.”
During a lengthy discussion, White, along with others who support turning PPU over to the Lincoln County Power District (LCPD), said “the current system is falling apart, and not very much, if anything, is being done to fix it and the PPU staff doesn’t have the equipment, the training, or desire to fix the electrical system.”
The Pioche Town Advisory Board conducted a survey last August, and although many did not participate, of those who did, the majority voted in favor of keeping PPU under local control.
Longtime town board member and past chairman Glennon Zelch later told the Record in a telephone interview that the survey, regardless of how some may feel about it, does reflect the thinking of local citizens wanting to keep PPU under local control.
In prepared remarks that White gave to the board, and in comments she and others made later, it was noted that, “Every time something happens now, PPU goes to LCPD for help. If we keep the power now, we can’t fix it or maintain it.”
Zelch said, “Ms. White is carrying on about a journeyman/lineman position. But OSHA regulations do not say it has to be a journeyman/lineman, rather just a qualified person and the people we have, for the most part, are qualified. And for the things we don’t feel qualified to do, we don’t do. We either hire a contractor or ask the power district.”
He admitted that some things haven’t been done to the satisfaction of everyone, “but it’s a matter of time and money, and we are working to put those things on a priority list. What is the most important and how much money do we have to do it with?”
Pat Kelley said unless the town goes with LCPD, “It will cost the people of Pioche a great deal to fix or maintain. We’re working toward a debt; it’s going to cost the residents of Pioche over $1 million to put this system back in order. Nothing has been done in ten years, and the only time they change a pole is when the wind knocks it down. It’s been a year since the survey and not one thing has been done.”
Kelley asked the commission board to really think about this because they are the ultimate decision makers regarding transferring PPU to LCPD.
Commissioner Kevin Phillips said LCPD should be given an incentive to take PPU, run it, and take care of the billing as well.
No action was taken other than to accept the motion of commissioner
Higbee to table the item to a future meeting in order to bring in the Pioche Town Board to discuss what options there might be.
In an earlier related agenda item, the board acted on the recommendation of PPU manager Nathan Adams to hire an engineer to conduct an electrical study for the town.
Low voltage throughout Pioche is an issue as is the need to replace several poles. The new study is to also examine projected growth for the utilities.
The cost of the study will be approximately $15,000.
Commissioners were split on a 3-2 decision, with Brackenbury and Higbee thinking another study is not needed since some have already been made.
The contract was awarded to Intermountain Consumer Professional Engineers of Midvale, Utah.