WG&L has big $$$ projects on the horizon - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

WG&L has big $$$ projects on the horizon

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - In a time when revenues are down for pretty much everyone, Albany Water, Gas and Light is looking at some major blows to its budget. First, there's the clean up of a manufactured gas plant as mandated by the EPD, then moving lines for the widening of Gillionville Road and also moving a major gas main to repair the Broad Avenue bridge. In all, it could total up to more than $10 Million.

There's not much to see at the old Manufactured Gas plant on Front Street in Albany. But back when it was built in the early 1900's, and during it's use, the coal burning process that took place here left a tar like substance behind, something that must be cleaned up now by Water, Gas and Light, a process that will cost millions.

Keith Goodin, Assistant Manager of Operations said, "That $9 Million is a tough figure to look at. We're hoping for something less."

The good news about that cleanup is that it will take several years, and so the cost will be spread out.  But there are other major projects that must be taken care of soon and will cost a lot of money almost immediately.

One is for relocating power lines for the widening of Gillionville Road.  Goodin said, "The over-simplified rule is, if we have utilities on state property and they widen the road and need utilities relocated, we have to do it at no cost." Which could cost WG&L upwards of a million dollars.

Then there's the matter of the Broad Avenue Bridge. While repairs to the bridge itself aren't the responsibility of Water, Gas and Light, there is a major gas main and a water main on the bridge.

Goodin said, "Our cost in that bridge, in relocating the gas line that's on the bridge and the water line could very well approach $1.5 Million."

And the schedule of that move will have to be carefully planned, as the gas main couldn't be moved during winter months for fear of cutting off downtown businesses and residents using gas for heat.

The silver lining in these multi-million dollar projects is that the utility is currently receiving a credit from the Municipal Electrical Authority of Georgia which could help off-set the costs.  Chairman Dr. Willie Adams said, "We're always concerned about income, but we've also been blessed. We get credits from MEAG. We're getting about $9 Million per year from MEAG so we can divert some of these funds to pay for some of these projects if need be."

Water, Gas and Light is also applying for some federal stimulus money which could help defray costs so they don't have to pass them along to customers.

While the manufactured gas plant cleanup will be spread out over several years, the costs for the Gillionville Road and Broad Avenue projects will be more immediate. The Department of Transportation says construction of the new bridge could begin in 2011. Gillionville Road widening could begin in the next couple of months.

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