NJUS installs fluoride-monitoring device

Fluoride, which has been shut off on weekends due to a shortage of personnel will begin to flow into drinking water seven days a week.

NJUS has received and installed a device to continuously monitor fluoride. The device has been integrated into the SCADA computer control system. This unit has to run for a time for calibration and to be verified against actual readings, according to Handeland. Once the device is adjusted and on the job 24/7, the necessity to shut down the fluoride system during weekends should end. Continual fluoridation is required by a City of Nome ordinance

As the utility continues its recovery the crunch of a cash shortage last year, the NJUS Board of Directors adopted a resolution setting aside funds in a Reserve-Savings Account at its meeting April 19. In addition to the $108,000 NJUS must hold in reserve for three prior federal Dept. of Agriculture loans, the board members directed John K. Handeland, utility manager, to transfer and additional $500,000 from 2015 operations to the new account.

The board has directed its planning discussions to the 2016 fuel purchase expected to arrive mid-summer after ice departure leaves navigable waters off Nome. Nome Joint Utility System has made arrangements to purchase 2.2 million gallons to feed generators heating and lighting Nome during the cold winter months, the maximum amount under its contract with Vitus Marine.

Depending on actual delivery and fuel inventory remaining in NJUS tanks, there could be an additional 100-200 gallons of capacity when the fuel barge arrives, but the supplier does not have product, according to Handeland.

After a review of capacity and a potential purchase of more fuel could be sought later in the summer, he said. Some Common Council members have voiced a desire to buy fuel direct for City of Nome operations and enter a drayage agreement as opposed to direct vendor purchase.

The NJUS board said despite the low cost of fuel currently, they did not want to purchase extra fuel and gamble ratepayer money on the price of fuel by purchasing extra cheap fuel betting the price would go up. Rather, they felt they should purchase the quantity needed for operations, including the 180,000 gallons that is typically purchased by Nome City Schools.

NJUS has met with Quintillion Subsea Fiber Project personnel along with City officials concerning the route the buried cable will follow into Nome. NJUS wants Quintillion to avoid running cable along King’s Way in bringing high-speed Internet into town via fiber-optic cable.

“NJUS prefers and presented an alternative route to bypass significant portions of King Place due to the narrow right-of-way and numerous services that would be impacted in the next phase of NJUS planned repairs and replacement if cable was in the same route,” Handeland said. “By moving to Fourth Avenue, those services have already been replaced in recent years. Segments of Kings Way between Steadman and Spokane streets have relatively few services.”

The proposed route change eliminates almost 30 conflicts with existing services. The City has provided Quintillion and subcontractor New Horizons Telecom with maps of services on Fourth Avenue so they can re-engineer their layout.

“Basically, the new route adds no distance so Quintillion can use, as I understand, its existing materials already procured,” Handeland added.

In other business, the board discussed ongoing repair and maintenance issues that keep the lights on and BTUs coming out of heating systems in Nome.

One EWT large wind turbine twirling over Banner Wind Farm will be joined by the other 900 kilowatt EWT turbine when repair to one of its blades sets it awhirl. NJUS staff has been in contact with EWT concerning the blade and found that the company had difficulty locating a contractor to provide the work, which will require rappelling down the tower to perform the repair, according to Handeland. EWT technicians arrived April 19 to EWT’s scheduled semi-annual maintenance, now complete.

Original start air compressors for the two 5.2 megawatt Wartsila plants /have arrived at their maintenance interval. Finding the European replacement parts for the machines made in Finland has been difficult. In considering the repairs versus the replacement with American units, staff decided that “replacement was the way to go,” Handeland said.
There are two compressors. Replacement of one is underway at a cost of $22,000 and parts of two others will be combined to make an existing unit functional as a backup. NJUS plans to replace a second unit in the 2017 business plan.

Parts are also required to repair a leaking heat exchanger, where plates and seals cannot be tightened further. These parts have been ordered at a cost of $7,000, according to Handeland.

 “The sooner we can get through the audit portion, the sooner we can petition DEC to be released from the Compliance Order By Consent,” Handeland said.

The line crew is compiling a summer work list, which includes numerous areas where poles need to be straightened.

“We have also had some requests for extension of service in the vicinity of Icy View,” Handeland said. “Line activity has also consisted of responses to various customer concerns, cleaning and recrimping connectors, and a couple of new service connects

Parts are also required to repair a leaking heat exchanger, where plates and seals cannot be tightened further.

Water and sewer activity has addressed and repaired leaks. Concern still exists in a couple of areas in the east end where there is evidence of the street sinking, according to Handeland. One lateral connection installed late in the season, which has been temporarily repaired “still requires us to go in and make it right,” he said.

NJUS has set the table to have an independent auditor inspect NJUS activities under the Environmental Management Program. State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, which imposed the program on NJUS has approved auditor Mike Travis. NJUS is working with an attorney to conclude a contract soon to lock in Travis’ services. NJUS has been following the management program diligently, according to Handeland.

And finally, NJUS has sent notice and a request for an update to Pilgrim Limited concerning progress and their activities toward meeting a deadline falling on Dec. 31 this year to be providing power to the Nome grid. Howard Trott, Pilgrim executive came to Nome and also met in Anchorage with Native corporation owners of the Pilgrim Hot Springs site. They are still looking at options in transmission and development, and have had an expert review their data.

Handeland has advised both the NJUS board and Nome Common Council that he is not of the opinion the project will become viable.



The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112


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