City still working to repair power system two years later

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

MALDEN, MO (KAIT) – In the aftermath of the 2009 ice storm the electric system in Malden was destroyed.  Since there was so much to do to repair it, city leaders wanted to do it right.  They asked for an extension from FEMA to get the project done.

City Administrator Ted Bellers said they had as many as 16 bidders trying to get this job.  Competitive bidding has kept the cost low.

"The total cost of this project is approximately $7 million.  We were told originally it could cost as much as $15 million," said Mayor Ray Santie.

"The city has spent several million dollars of its own funds to build that system better than what it was before," said Bellers.

Bellers said FEMA will only help pay for what was damaged during the storm.  That is where the citizens of the city come in helping pick up the tab through an increase to their cost for electricity.

"They are paying probably a cent per kilowatt hour for those improvements," said Bellers.

When that part of the debt is paid for that increase will go away.  Since most of the system has to be rebuilt, Mayor Ray Santie said they are doing everything they need to do at once.

"Part of the purpose is that we will have a system that will withstand or at least be better able to withstand future ice storms," said Bellers.

"We are upgrading the electric system to the current standards and it will be a system that will stand for 40 years," said Brian Haley, Utilities Director for Malden.

Rebuilding the electric system is being done in four phases when everything is said and done they will have replaced 2000 utility poles all throughout the city.  The crews are working on phases one and two now, with the hardest hit areas being addressed first.  Even though they're not finished, they feel they're ready!

"If an ice storm should hit this winter we would be in such better shape than we were in 2009," said Bellers.

The work is expected to be done in August of 2011.

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