Dover City Council has discussed the possibility of selling the city's cash rich electric utility for some time. On Monday night, council approved a $117,500 study to determine the utility's value and the estimated infrastructure improvements that would be needed.

Dover City Council approved a $117,500 study to be conducted by Pittsburgh-based GAI Consultants to examine the feasibility of selling the city's cash rich electric utility.

Council voted 6-1 Monday night to approve the study of the electric utility's worth as well as the cost to maintain the utility's infrastructure, as recommended by City Manager Scott Koenig.

Council President Tom Leary, Councilmen David Bonar, William Hare, James Hutchison, Adam Perza and Councilwoman Beverly Williams voted for the measure while Councilman Sean Lynn voted no. Councilwoman Sophia Russell and Councilman David Anderson were absent.

Bonar emphasized that a study of the electric utility's worth did not mean a sale was imminent.

"There's no offer on the table," Bonar said. "These types of studies are exhaustive. We're talking about a six- to seven-month period, with an extension likely."

But, Lynn said he was adamantly opposed to selling the electric utility, which was often called upon to subsidize the city's general fund. Therefore, he felt a study was unwarranted.

Hutchison, Perza, Williams and Leary each said they would not want to sell the electric utility, but it would not hurt the city to conduct a study on the matter.

As Leary and Bonar put it, the city's $117,500 study paled in comparison to the possibility of it paying $147 million or so to replace the city's electric utility infrastructure.

City Council's action Monday followed up on its action in October 2011 to authorize staff to seek proposals from consultants bidding to determine the value of the City of Dover Electric System, Koenig said. GAI Consultants had the best proposal as determined by the city's power supply attorney, Kirk Betts of the Washington, D.C.-based Betts & Holt law firm, he said. The other three consultants, in order of rank, were Burns, AERCA Team and MRV.