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Port Huron to replace three control panels at sewer plant for $220K

A screenshot of Port Huron DPW director Eric Witter talking about the sewer plant's control panels on Sept. 25.

By Jim Bloch

The city of Port Huron will hire Motor City Electric Technologies, of Detroit, for $200,299 to upgrade or replace three control panels at the wastewater treatment plant.

Motor City submitted the lowest of three bids for the project. Decima LLC, of Detroit, was next at $225,400. J. Ranck Electric, Inc., of Mt. Pleasant, was high at  $352,006.

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The city council voted unanimously at its regular meeting Sept. 25 to hire Motor City to replace the panels.

Under the cost-sharing arrangement with the three townships that are also served by the sewer plant, the price-tag to the city will be $148,505. Port Huron Township, which accounts for 13.34 percent of the plant’s usage, will pay $29,403; Fort Gratiot Township at 13.83 percent will chip in $30,467; Kimball township at 5.41 percent will pay $11,918.

“These control panels are over twenty years old and the parts and equipment inside the panels are failing and outdated,” said City Manager James Freed in his memo about the work to Mayor Pauline Repp and the council. “Replacement parts and material are either no longer available or pricey and hard to find. In addition, the hardware and electronics are no longer industry supported. Failure to any part of these panels would be detrimental to processes and require a timely and costly repair.”

The three panels control different aspects of the plant.

“(C)ontrol panel 1 is located in the administration building and controls the raw sewage pumps and other primary process functions,” said Freed. “(C)ontrol panel 5 is located in the maintenance shop of the solids building and controls numerous chemical functions, and control panel 9 is located in the thickener building for handling the majority of the solids handling process, including pumps and conveyors.”

Control panels 1 and 5 will be upgraded; panel 9 will be replaced.

The city advertised the project on its website and on the Michigan Intergovernmental Trade Network.

The low bid came in significantly under the budgeted amount of $320,000.

Eric Witter, director of the city’s department of public works, said that there are nine control panels in the plant and they have been upgraded or replaced as the city’s budget allowed.

“These last three will complete all the panel upgrades,” said Witter, as heard on the recording of the meeting posted on the city’s website.

The final vote was 6-0. Council member Jeff Pemberton was absent.

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com. 

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