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July 17, 2013

Questions remain that time will answer

To say last month’s Logansport Utility Service Board meeting was not your typical meeting is an understatement.

For starters, members of the LMU union work force appeared before the meeting started to confront USB member Todd Miller. Then during the meeting, Miller raised his voice to criticize LMU Manager Paul Hartman, whom he alleged shared a private conversation about shutting down LMU’s generating plant on Race Street. Miller said the information the union had could only have come from Hartman, but Hartman denied that he had told the union anything about the conversation.

However the union members found out about the conversation is maybe not as pertinent to the future of the utilities as the point Miller made in the meeting. Simply put, LMU now has the capacity to secure all the power it needs for its customers from its interconnection with Duke Energy. Miller said his own projections indicate LMU could save millions if it shuts down the plant and keeps LMU workers on the payroll until a new plant is built.

If city officials would allow LMU to take that course of action, there obviously would have to be questions about what to do with the union workers until the plant is built. But that question is secondary to others, including the one Miller raised: Why not close the generating plant if it is draining LMU of its cash?

One advantage of taking that course is that affords LMU an opportunity to renegotiate its existing contract with Duke and securing either a lower rate or an earlier exit from its existing contract which is projected to raise rates over the next four years. Both those issues could potentially be renegotiated, and renegotiation also would allow the city to pursue lower wholesale rates from the Indiana Municipal Power Agency, AEP, Vectren or other utilities.

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