City Council approves unusual contracts for utility needs

By Jim Hilgen 10:30pm, August 22, 2013 - Updated 6:32am, August 23, 2013
Floor discussion of bill and interview with Councilman Freel
Wilmington's Commissioner of Public Works is getting carte blanche to contract for the city's power needs.

Under a measure approved in city council, the Public Works Department will be able to choose from one of three energy providers at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2015.

Councilman Bud Freel describes a portion of the plan.

"This allows our commissioner to enter into a contract of either two or three years with one of three companies that have been approved through an RFP process," says Freel.

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None of the proposed contracts contain price or length provisions.

Freel says giving the OK to blank contracts is not how the city usually does business.

"The only thing I can point to is we did it once before three years ago and it was very successful. So, if we can continue to have that kind of success, I think it's a prudent move on our part," Freel says.

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He describes the success of the city's actions in 2010.

"In Fiscal Year 2010 in our water-sewer fund we were paying $1.3 million for electricity. And in FY 2013 our electricity will be about $650,000," says Freel.

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Freel says the flexibility is needed to ensure Wilmington is getting the best possible rates for its considerable power demands.

The bill received unanimous support at Council's latest session.

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