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Friday, December 19, 2014

Regents to review electrical project funds

news@dailylobo.com
@SvetlanaOzden

A proposed change in electric service for the KNME radio station and Domenici Hall could save the University $76,000 per year in electricity costs if the budget increase for the project is approved.

At a Finance and Facilities Committee meeting on Thursday, Budget Officer Vahid Staples of the Office of Planning, Budget & Analysis said the power sources the hall and radio station depend on are often inefficient. He said that plans to transfer electric service were already approved by the committee and the UNM Board of Regents in November 2011, but unexpected costs require an increase in the project’s budget.

The original cost was estimated at $660,000. The new proposed cost is $750,000, which would be funded by $500,000 from the Physical Plant Department Utility Capital Reserves and $250,000 from the Physical Plant Utility Operation Carry Forward fund.

Staples said the office received four bids in a Request for Proposal process, all of which were higher than the office had originally estimated, and that the office selected the cheapest bidder. He said the office first tried to rearrange the budget, but found that nothing could be done to keep the project within the estimated costs.

“We were obviously disappointed when they came back higher than the original estimate,” he said. “But we could not do enough to pull it back so that it’s a viable budget, so hence the request for the revised budget.”

Staples said the project will convert the two buildings from PNM electrical service to UNM electrical service and that the budget includes costs for creating underground lines that will supply electricity to the buildings.

UNM Planning Officer Mary Kenney said UNM’s underground electrical lines would be more reliable than PNM’s overhead electrical lines, but that the PNM lines would still be connected to both buildings.

She said having PNM lines still available will ensure that, in case of a power shortage from UNM’s lines, PNM will still be able to provide the buildings with electricity.

“With Domenici being at the end of the line, we’ve had power quality issues up there and the same with KNME,” she said. “If something were to happen with us, we can continue to feed that building’s electricity without a problem.”

Regent Don Chalmers noted that the University would see a 10 percent return on its investment if the increased budget is approved and plans to change electric services move forward.

Committee members unanimously approved the cost increase. Final approval will go before the Board of Regents at a meeting on Tuesday.