Possible Contract Could Mean Shorter Power Outages for Local Residents

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A possible contract between the City of Minden and Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) could mean shorter power outages for local residents.

In a recent workshop, three members of the Minden City Council, along with Mayor Terry Gardner and Gary Moreland, Power Transmission & Distribution Manager, met with SWEPCO officials via Zoom to discuss the contract.

Moreland has been working for some time with only six linemen. Optimum number for him, he said, is at least 12.

“At this time, we just can’t pay them enough,” Moreland said. “We keep losing them to companies that can pay a lot more.”

SWEPCO officials Dale Colvin and Mike Taylor told the group their contract guarantees expedition of a crew if there are problems as with Hurricane Laura, when the city paid $30,000 to a private company for three days’ work.

Cost of work provided by SWEPCO’s contract includes labor charges, materials, which would be billed at actual cost plus 20 percent, certain pieces of equipment, infrared testing and outdoor lighting repairs. A minimum of two hours per person will be billed for each emergency callout.

According to the contract, there is no charge if the city does not use SWEPCO’s crews. It is valid for one year, either from date of signing or the fiscal year.

District A councilman Wayne Edwards said he is interested in looking at the linemen’s salaries with the city to see if there is some way they can be brought in line with other municipalities.

Average pay for a City of Minden lineman is $16.50 per hour. Moreland said other municipalities and companies are paying around $35 per hour. In the SWEPCO contract, a Distribution Service/Lineman would be paid around $100 an hour for emergency services.

Gardner said the contract with SWEPCO will be on the council’s June agenda.

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