MMU receives grant to support electric pole inspections

Thursday, March 2, 2017
Missouri Public Utility Alliance Public Information Officer Kerry Cordray (left) presents Marshall Board of Public Works President Chuck Hird (center) and Marshall Municipal Utilities General Manager Kyle Gibbs (right) with a check for $20,793 Thursday, March 2. The money comes through a Power Infrastructure Modernization Grant from the Missouri Public Energy Pool to support upgrades to Marshall's electrical system. (Arron Hustead/Democrat-News)

The first Marshall Board of Public Works meeting of March started off with positive news as Marshall Municipal Utilities accepted a $20,793 grant check from the Missouri Public Energy Pool.

The funds, from a Power Infrastructure Modernization Grant, will be used to support upgrades to the city's electric distribution system, particularly for MMU's inspection of the integrity of electric poles, with damaged poles being replaced. Woodpeckers are a common cause of damaged poles. Funds requested through the MoPEP PIM grant program must be used for the acquisition of capital assets used in the operations of the electric utility.

"Marshall's pole inspection effort helps the city deliver more consistent and reliable service to customers," Missouri Public Utility Alliance President and General Manager Duncan Kincheloe is quoted in a press release announcing the grant. "Projects like Marshall's that strengthen local infrastructure also mean greater reliability and efficiency for the entire MoPEP partnership."

While woodpeckers cause damage to utility poles, a different critter culprit was identified as the cause of a power outage which affected approximately 1,600 MMU customers on the city's south side Thursday, Feb. 23. Electric Distribution Director Jeff Bergstrom reported a squirrel had climbed onto a transformer at the southeast substation, temporarily knocking the station out of service. Power was restored for most customers within 30 minutes of the outage, he reported. Fitzgibbon Hospital was one of the customers affected by the outage, and Bergstrom said power was restored for the hospital in 13 minutes.

The board took two actions Thursday, the first to request bids for batteries, a battery rack and charging system for the North Street substation. Bergstrom reported the DC power supply to the substation was currently provided by a battery bank in the city's power plant, and the batteries were due for an update after last being replaced in 1998. He estimated the cost to replace and relocate the batteries to the substation at $22,000.

In the other action, Administrative Services Director Ken Gieringer was chosen to replace Electric Production Director Jim Johnson as the alternate director to represent the city of Marshall as its voting member during MoPEP and Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission meetings. General Manager Kyle Gibbs currently serves as MMU's MJMEUC and MoPEP Director. A replacement alternate director was needed due to Johnson's impending retirement.

Contact Arron Hustead at

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