VOLCANO - Mountwood Park officials are hopeful that negotiations with Mon Power and First Energy about the recurring power outages in Mountwood Park can reach a solution soon.
During Mountwood Park's regular board meeting Monday evening, board members awaited an update on the ongoing struggle with Mon Power about the maintenance of the buried power lines in the park, said Mountwood Park Board President Bob Buchanan.
Updates say that negotiations with Mon Power and First Energy are progressing, but have not reached a conclusion, said Buchanan.
The aging power lines were buried throughout the park before buried lines were required to be housed in conduits, said Buchanan. As a result, the lines have been failing from exposure throughout the park over the past few years, he said.
In the past year, Mountwood Park officials have dealt with more than eight power outages caused by failures in the power lines, said Buchanan.
Several years ago, Mon Power and First Energy entered into an agreement with Mountwood Park to provide maintenance for the power lines within the park for a discounted rate, said Buchanan. The discounted rate details were not immediately available to Buchanan, he said.
Mountwood Park has experienced over the past year an increase in the costs associated with the maintenance of the power lines, said Buchanan.
"Every time we have a power failure in one of these buried lines, we have to pay to rent a Thumper from Mon Power in order to find the failure point," said Buchanan.
The Thumper, a device that detects the state of buried power lines, costs upwards of $4,000 for every rental Mountwood Park has to make, said Buchanan. With more than eight power failures in Mountwood Park over the past year, that amounts to more than $32,000 in expenses the park has been forced to pay, he said.
"We simply are not able to prove that we are getting the lower price that was promised to us," said Buchanan. "Being a county-owned park, we don't have unlimited resources at our disposal, and these repeated outages and rental fees are becoming problematic," he said.
Power to the park's camping area has been troublesome this season, said Buchanan. Other parts of the park suffer outages from the decaying lines, and cause difficulties for the park's neighbors, he said.
The Martin Marietta mining operation is a neighbor of the park, said Buchanan. Power outages in the park bleed down the line and cause service interruptions to the mining company, he said.
"If Martin Marietta is running its crushers at a low capacity when the power is interrupted, it has been known to shut down the machines," said Buchanan. "We have heard that when that happens, they have to send workers down into the crushers to finish breaking up the rocks by hand," he said.
Negotiations have been underway with First Energy and Mon Power for some time, and Mountwood Park officials are hoping that "an equitable solution will be reached sometime soon," said Buchanan.