Council will seek bids on generators

Robert Smith

Pawhuska city councilors voted last week to formally seek bids on generators of similar description to two generators in California on which it had recently received information.

City government had learned it could buy, have transported from California, and have installed two generators that would help to anchor the municipal power-generation system. The owner of those generators wanted more than $1.6 million to have them transported to Oklahoma and installed.

The council voted 4-1 to solicit bids, with Ward 2 Councilman Steve Holcombe dissenting. Holcombe strenuously objected to moving forward without a business plan for how the generators would fit into the current and future development of Pawhuska’s power-generation operations. Other members of the council were concerned about potentially losing an opportunity to buy suitable generators about which it already knows — like the two in California.

The reason for city government’s acute concern about generators is that its existing dark-start generator, used to power up the system after electrical power had been lost, went down last year and is thought by many to have seen all its useful life. Vice Mayor Rodger Milleson differs on that question, and he and Councilman John Brazee have been working to revive the old submarine engine that served as the dark-start generator.

Nonetheless, Milleson readily agrees that Pawhuska needs to seek additional generator resources and he supported the move to go out for bids.

Bill Bruce, director of ytilities for the city, gave voice last week to the anxiety that is driving the search for generators.

“Right now, if something were to happen, we’re going to sit in the dark until our transmission line is put back up,” Bruce said. There was also concern, when the vote to go out for bids was taken, that Pawhuska has already lost opportunities to acquire generators that were available in Houston, Texas. Several generators there have already sold to other parties.

Mayor Roger Taylor said he was of the opinion that Pawhuska shouldn’t let generators it currently knows about get away.

Holcombe was unimpressed with that approach.

“There are always going to be some more generators to come along,” he said. Holcombe suggested that city government could first formulate a business plan and then hold a special meeting to talk about the next steps to be taken.