EES to buy trucks

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  The Elizabethton Electric System is trucking.
  A majority of the five-member EES board of directors voted Thursday afternoon to purchase a new bucket truck and placement truck under the system's capital outlay budget.
  The board accepted a bid for a "digger truck" used to place transformers during large electrical construction projects from a subsidiary company of the General Motors Corporation at a bid price of $166,000.
  The board voted to accept a low bid of $132,000 from Altec Inc. to purchase a new bucket truck. The truck extends a "bucket" arm 65 feet allowing utility workers to reach utility poles.
  Joe Richards of EES said the system's existing "digger truck" that places utility poles and sets foundation pads for transformers is no longer in use because the truck's age and frequent repair had made it unsafe. He said the system has taken to renting cranes to place some platforms such as power equipment to accommodate the Snap-On Tools plant expansion.
  "We are just experiencing growing pains," Richards told the board regarding the size and durability of the newer trucks. "You are dealing with bigger and taller poles."
  Isaacs said the system's digger truck has reached 100 percent depreciation and the current 1994 model bucket truck the new vehicle will replace has depreciated 98 percent. He also said the system's bucket truck fleet has a height disadvantage reaching electrical lighting poles most recently installed along city streets and state highways.
  "We currently do not have one bucket truck with a (reach) that will change the insulators we have placed on the new poles on the highway," he said.
  Isaacs said the trucks were built to a system's specifications with delivery usually not taken for 180 to 200 days after the purchase. He said the costs of at least one truck could even be deferred until the 2006 budget year.
  Board member Janie McKinney felt the board had debated the issue of buying new trucks long enough. She said money was available in the budget to purchase the trucks.
  "If I'm going up 65 feet in the air, I want those people to be safe," McKinney said of EES linemen using the bucket trucks.
  Board chairman Gary Nave questioned whether the system needed both trucks and said he advocates renting a crane in lieu of buying a new placement truck. He said the board is trying to raise the system's fund balance to a level recommended by the system's auditing firm and indicated the board might only purchase one truck.
  "We are stepping up in a whole other level of expense," Nave said.
  McKinney made the motion to buy the trucks and received a second from Jim Jones. McKinney and Jones as well as newly appointed board member Bradley Moffitt voted yes on the motion.
  In other business, Nave welcomed Moffitt to his first board meeting. Moffitt, finance director for Elizabethton city government, was appointed at the City Council's Oct. 14 meeting by Mayor Sam LaPorte to succeed former power board member Shirley Hughes.