It has been more than a year in coming, but Rolla Municipal Utilities has received payment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for expenses incurred for repairs after the January, 2007, ice storm.


It has been more than a year in coming, but Rolla Municipal Utilities has received payment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for expenses incurred for repairs after the January, 2007, ice storm.


Dennis Roberts, RMU Office Manager, told the Rolla Board of Public Works during its meeting Monday the utility has received $237,675 from FEMA as partial reimbursement for the cost of the Jan. 12, 2007, ice storm that left much of Rolla and most of Missouri without electricity.


“They paid pretty much all labor, for the poles, materials and supplies,” Roberts said. “There are a few items they did not pay for, but overall, it was about 90 percent (of the cost) or better.”


The ice storm devastated much of Rolla, but RMU-owned generators were able to provide electricity for much of the city on an alternating basis, minimizing the effects.


The ice storm dropped three-quarters of an inch of rain that froze, breaking power lines, utilitiy poles and service meters.


Also, after realigning its expense percentages between the electrical and water departments last month, the board will delay a water-rate increase until July or August.


Last month, the board reallocated billing percentages to more accurately reflect costs between the electrical and water departments. The reallocation will bring an additional $275,000 to the water department, Roberts said.


“It’s possible,” Board President Dr. James Stoffer said after the meeting of the water-rate increase. “We may see a 10-cent (per 1,000 gallons)  increase. It’s been since Oct. 1, 2006, we last saw an increase,” Stoffer said.


Current rates are $2.60 per 1,000 gallons.


Since 1980, the board has raised water rates 10 times from the $0.80 to the current $2.60.


In other action, the board ...:
• Approved a request for a lease/purchase proposal for infrastructure improvements totalling $15 million. The proposal, needing City Council approval, will be brought to the council by its next meeting May 5. The proposal is for a loan agreement not to exceed $18 million for a 20-year period from the Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities. The loan will allow for a 3.59 fixed rate for 20 years, as the city plans for infrastructure improvements to electrical substations while enabling development to southern and western areas of Rolla.


• Approved an agreement with CellNet Technology, Inc., for a lease agreement for use of RMU secondary utility poles. The agreement will allow CellNet to use the poles to mount sensors that will allow its client, Ameren, to monitor its Rolla gas customers’ meters. The sensors will be placed on about 45 poles throughout Rolla.


• Discussed the purchase of the Ameren substation east of Rolla. Currently, RMU leases the substation from Ameren and pays 16.42 percent annually. “In our minds, in six years we would own it,” Stoffer said. “We need to  purchase it and move that substation closer to Rolla so we can continue to expand south.” Last fall, R.W. Beck Associates, an engineering consulting company, presented a report advising that purchase as the city looks toward improving electrical service in Rolla.


•  Was advised by Rodney Bourne, operations and public relations coordinator, the utility is planning a “Green Campaign” to encourage energy and water conservation. Just in its preliminary stages, the tentative slogan for the effort would be “Think Green, Save Green,” Bourne said. The campaign will encourage customers to save water and electricity at homes and in businesses.


• Will urge Missouri University of Science and Technology to use its engineering expertise to employ an alternative energy source as it develops the area near the Highway E Roundabout area just north of the university. On the urging of member Mark Rolufs, the board was responding to an inquiry from the university about supplying electricity to that area. Rolufs suggested the university employ alternative energy sources — specifically mentioning solar energy — to showcase the university’s forward-thinking in the field of study. RMU General Manager Dan Watkins said he would forward that sentiment to the university.