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    Henry County Board hears more about the price of energy

    July 29, 2022 - Beth Welbers


      The Henry County Board got an opportunity to get a synopsis of the increasing energy bills at the Courthouse and associated county properties. Current agreements on electricity for county properties is set to expire in December.

      Mike Ellis of E-Quantum Consulting is an advisor to Erin Knackstadt, County Administrator, in matters of purchasing contracts for gas and electric for the County Courthouse, Health Department, Highway Department and blacktopping plant, and Hillcrest Home. He also advises surrounding counties in like matters.

      According to Ellis, purchasing power is done on the futures. Farmers understand this process, as they sell their commodities the same way. An entity's peak usage is calculated and then multiplied times a rate set at auction, although, unlike a normal auction, the highest bid to clear the market sets the price for all. At the last energy auction, the price was set at $236.66 up from $5 per Kilowatt.

      During the last contract, the county purchased two years of power for a cost of .02782 kwh. A similar contract for 22-24 is projected to cost .04264 kwh, nearly doubling. This figure does not include the delivery fees, which is an additional cost.

      Ellis outlined three different contract scenarios the County could pursue. A contract using an indexed profit rather than a fixed price, hoping the economy goes into a downturn, reducing demand and hopefully, price. A short term buy of six months would be the next option, waiting to see what may occur on the economic horizon. And third, to buy the "out-years" blending the pricing together for a two to three year contract. "Any way you look at it, it will cost the County more money." observed Ellis. "It is all beyond the County's control."

      The Board also accepted the resignation of member Malissa Sandberg of Cambridge, who has accepted a job outside of the county, and will be moving. Kelli Parsons submitted her resignation last month for similar reasons. Chairman Kippy Breeden stated that political party chairmen are tasked with naming a replacement, and expects to have an appointment at August's meeting.

      Mark Burton will be replacing Parsons as the chairman of the finance committee, and Jim Thompson will be taking Burton's place as public safety chairman, in light of these changes.

      In closed session the Board approved a new contract for the 911 communicators, the corrections officers and the office staff of the sheriff's office. Telecommunicators and jail staff will receive 5% first year, 4% second year, 3% third year and 2.5% fourth year raises, with compensation retroactive to December, when the previous contract expired. Clerical staff will receive hourly raises of $1.50 first year, $ 1.00 in years two and three and .50 in year four. The employees will contribute 15% towards health insurance costs.

      In other business, the Board approved a Special Use Permit for Shadow Lakes Estates, a former campground north of Geneseo near the AE&TA grounds. The business will be pouring a concrete pad, and using a large tent as a wedding and event venue. There will be no permanent structures.

      Vice Chairman Shawn Kendall took a moment to caution the Board regarding the ownership of a 33 acre tract of land within the Boiler works property. It has been bought and resold numerous time for back taxes. It cannot be owned by the County, as it is within the confines of the City of Kewanee. Kendall referred to the derelict parcel as being in "Property Purgatory" because of the inability or unwillingness of any entity to take ownership.

      An RLF loan in the amount of $94,150 was approved for Maria's Pizza in Colona. They will be purchasing the balance of the building they are in.

      Jan May noted that Hillcrest Home had an emergency repair to replace water heaters that failed in the kitchen. Wirth Electric replaced both with new tankless water heaters for $12,900. They quoted $20,200 for tank style water heaters of the same capacity. The tankless heaters will be more energy efficient.


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