Council votes to take loan to fund nuclear plant expansion; employee honored

Asia Ashley

June 12, 2014

LaGrange City Council voted Tuesday evening to accept a loan from the Department of Energy, that would help refinance the city’s portion of the upcoming Plant Vogtle 3 and 4 nuclear plant expansion.

MEAG Power, the city’s power supplier, owns about 22.7 percent of the $16 billion project. The city of LaGrange will pay 1.3 to 1.4 percent of the cost, according LaGrange Director of Utilities Patrick Bowie, and is one of the 52 municipalities, including West Point and Hogansville, contributing to MEAG’s portion of the project

The Department of Energy is providing a 30-year loan to the city, which will result in a savings of $2.8 million a year for the city, and $45 million a year in savings for MEAG, Bowie said.

Bowie said LaGrange will receive 30 of the 2,200 megawatts that plant will produce.

The first of the two nuclear units is due to go into service in the fourth quarter of 2017, to be followed by the second unit one year later.

The resolution allows the mayor and city clerk, or assistant city clerk, to execute any changes to the power sales contract and sign the final contract and documents when received.

During the Tuesday morning work session, council agreed to provide an additional $32,550 request from the LaGrange Art Museum in the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget.

The LAM requested $65,000 total from the upcoming budget and had requested and received $33,000 last year. The request of the additional $32,550 was to “top off” a capital funding request for renovation’s to the museum’s Center for Creative Learning. At a council work session last month, where the budget was initially discussed, council members supported holding off on the additional funding request until reviewing the LAM’s budget and the museum’s other sources of funding.

Since that meeting, City Manager Tom Hall said he spoke with LAM representatives whom confirmed that the $32,550 is the remaining amount needed to complete the $475,000 project.

Council also agreed to not include funding for the the Alpha Multi-Purpose Center in the budget, at least until the agency can find a facility to relocate its services. The current building has repair issues, which brought concern of safety to the council, whom agreed to zero out funding to the agency until the agency can present a new plan and location. Hall said a mid-year adjustment can be done to the budget should the agency find another location.

A public hearing was held for the budget at the Tuesday evening meeting, with no one commenting on the matter. Another hearing is scheduled at the June 24 meeting when the council will be expected to vote on the budget.

Also during the meeting City Attorney Jeff Todd read an ordinance that would increase landfill tipping fees by $1.50 per ton.

The change would bring the top rate to $31.50, and Hall said the same rate increase may be proposed next year as well. The city has not seen a rate increase in tipping fees in over 15 years.

Also Tuesday, city employee Walter Dowell Jr. was honored at the meeting for his 25 years of service to the city’s water department.