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Nome Utility Board Updates Residents on Fuel Delivery, Power Outages, and Leaks

A water leak created a puddle on 3rd Avenue that was above ankle height.
A water leak created a puddle on 3rd Avenue that was above ankle height.

After some delays earlier this fall, Nome received a crucial fuel delivery of 2,150,000 gallons last week.

Nome Joint Utility System Assistant Manager Ken Morton updated the utility board of that delivery at their monthly meeting on Tuesday (October 22nd). According to the Utility Manager’s report, the delivered fuel is expected to cost just under $5,000,000.

This year, NJUS is looking to pay for that fuel a little bit differently. NJUS is approved for a new fuel note of $5,000,000 from Wells Fargo around the end of this month, which they expect to pay in nine payments instead of twelve. NJUS Manager John Handeland explains that allows the note to be paid off by July of next year in case a fuel delivery comes earlier in the summer. He doesn’t expect those monthly payments to increase much; last year’s note was for $6.6 million.

“We’ll see here at month end what our existing fuel is so we can get our average and recompute our fuel surcharge.”

– John Handeland

During last week’s NJUS meeting, the board also discussed power outages. Nome residents may remember a series of outages from earlier this month. One, on October 5th, was due to an overheated circuit board.

In addition, NJUS is facing problems with water leaks and Ken Morton explains that those seem to be due to cracks at the fused joints in the high- density polyethylene pipe used in Nome’s water system.

“Something that was put in the ground in 1984. It’s strange that we’ve had so many this year. I’d say the bulk of the leaks we’ve had have been related to split fuses.”

– Ken Morton

That fuse, when properly done, should be able to last 50-100 years, according to Morton. He suggests those splits may be due to an old composition of the mixture that was used for the fuses. The Utility Board did not discuss making any changes or updates to those fuses.

During their meeting, the Utility Board had no new or unfinished business to discuss. There will be a run-off election for the vacant Utility Board Seat D on November 5th.

Image at top: A water leak from an NJUS pipe in 2017. Photo from KNOM file.

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