Zimmerman City Council decides to replace blown generator

by Heather Reinhart
Contributing Writer
The Zimmerman City Council has decided to replace and not repair a blown generator at a cost of about $186,000.

A few months ago, the city of Zimmerman’s waste water treatment plant’s backup generator “blew up,” for lack of better explanation.

A rental unit was put into place for the time being at a cost of $4,230 per month. Public Works Director Dave Johnson has been looking into options for repairing or replacing the unit.

At Monday night’s council meeting, Johnson shared his findings and recommended that the board approve the purchase of a new Caterpillar Model C18TE, Tier 4F, EPA-certified diesel generator from Ziegler Inc. The cost is $186,756 and will be purchased using money from the sewer fund. Repair costs were estimated at $70,000, and staff believed it would be best to purchase a new generator rather than repair due to the generator being 17 years old.

Staff reviewed different sizes and brands of generators and opted to go with a 500 kw model that would not only provide start up power for the current and future components but would also power the full operation of the facility.

“If we’re going to purchase a new one, we want to purchase and err on the side of having sufficient power to handle the next expansion that we’ll probably need to start designing within the next three to five years, if our growth continues at our current rate,” City Administrator Randy Piasecki said.

“We might as well be ready for the future,” Mayor Dave Earenfight said.

Johnson also looked into leasing options, but said that leasing a similar generator would cost $115,000 more, over the course of the 15-year lease, than buying a new one.

Piasecki also said that because Zimmerman is a member of the National Joint Power Alliance, the city is getting a discount on the unit of roughly $40,000.

The backup generator is necessary to provide emergency power for plant operation and it allows the city to participate in Connexus Energy’s Power Saver Program, which saves the city approximately $17,000 annually.

The council approved the purchase. It will take approximately 12 weeks for a generator to be built and delivered to the site.