Dover City Council members have approved the finishing touches on upgrades to the city's electric grid.

By unanimous votes Sept. 27, eight members of the Dover City Council approved some of the finishing touches on improvements to the city’s power grid.

Councilwoman Beverly Williams was not at the meeting.

Council agreed to spend $145,888 to buy 44 electrical transformers and 51 lightning arrestors that protect the metering and other equipment at some of the city’s older substations. According to the bid proposals, all the items being replaced have exceeded their useful lifespan and could be subject to catastrophic failure.

Council members also awarded contracts to a Smyrna and Dover firm to provide a master electrician’s services for the city. Due to cutbacks and retirements, the city no longer has a licensed master electrician on staff, said City Manager Tony DePrima.

HCS Electric & Tech of Smyrna was given the primary contract, with DeVary Electric of Dover awarded a contract to provide services if HCS is unavailable.

The contract is for a maximum of $25,000 annually for three years, with two one-year extension options.

Under questioning from Councilman Eugene Ruane, DePrima said the annual contract would cost less than having a full-time licensed master electrician on staff. A licensed electrician is needed to complete and certify certain types of work, such as connecting the city power supply to private property.

Members of council agreed to buy two software packages totaling $56,252 to allow the city’s utility department to better interface its systems with that of a contracted electrical consulting firm. The package will allow the department to perform the related work in-house, which involves relay settings in city substations.

The price includes a discount for the second copy of the software as well as a five-day training program for two persons.

The last vote allows the city to put the finishing touches on a transmission line breaker replacement program started in fiscal year 2006, DePrima said. Council approved a cost of $37,500 to replace the final 69-kilovolt breaker; there will be some additional costs for engineering and labor to install the new breakers, but these will come in under the $100,000 originally budgeted for the program.

Councilman Reuben Salters praised the updates to Dover’s electric grid, noting there have been fewer power failures and dropouts since the program started.

In other business, council held the first reading on a zoning amendment proposal relating to environmental protection within the city. Among other changes, the plan sets forth standards for redevelopment in flood hazard areas and removes a 25-foot setback requirement for flood areas; creates a buffer requirement for city waterways and identifies those waterways by name and requires development applications to define wetland areas affected by the project.

The proposal will be heard by the city’s planning commission Monday, Oct. 18, with a public hearing and final vote by council on Monday, Nov. 8.

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