The Superior Express -

$500,000 grant will help pay for natural gas bills

Superior City Council

 

August 12, 2021



When members of the Superior City Council met Monday evening the agenda contained fireworks. Not the kind that sparks discord among the council and citizens but the kind used to celebrate this nation’s independence and the July 4th holiday.

Mayor Chris Peterson said the police department had asked for modifications to the present ordinance with the hope it would be more definitive and easier to enforce.

In bringing the question before the council, he said he wanted to bring it up early so residents of the town could voice the opinion and fireworks vendors could make plans for the coming year.

Among the changes being considered are a reduction in the number of days fireworks may be sold, the days they may be shot and the hours during which they may be shot.

It was noted many residents enjoy shooting and watching fireworks and fireworks have long been permitted in Superior but the current ordinance does not establish the hours when fireworks may be discharged.

But some residents and pets are alarmed and dislike fireworks.

Prior to the meeting several communities had been asked to share information about their regulation of fireworks.

If a community specified the hours, it was common to not allow the discharge of fireworks after 10 or 11 p.m. other than July 4 when they were often allowed until midnight.

Omaha only allows fireworks to be ignited on three days, July 2-4, Lincoln allows two days, July 3 and 4.

Most other communities allow the ignition of fireworks to begin in June, anywhere from June 24 through June 28. A few allow the discharge through July 5.

A second item on the agenda which may spark fireworks among the natural gas utility customers was the bills associated with last winter’s cold snap which came with Winter Storm Uri.

Between Feb. 15 and 18, the City of Superior had an average daily consumption of 1,109 thousand cubic feet of natural gas. The typical February consumption is 652 thousand cubic feet. The cost of natural gas purchased by the utility during those days was up dramatically, largely because the consumption was up in a multi-state area and the distribution system was strained.

These factors combined to send the city an unexpected extraordinary bill of $636,076.83. The city used cash reserves to pay the bill and has not yet passed the charge on to rate payers.

The state legislature approved an emergency grant fund to assist communities struggling to pay the unexpected bills. Recently it was learned the City of Superior will receive $500,000 in state funds to assist with the charge.

Currently the utility is reviewing how natural gas is purchased on the wholesale market. The current plan is to hedge 50 percent of the average winter load, purchasing and holding gas in storage and pre-purchasing natural gas with the goal of providing gas to its utility customers at an affordable, steady rate.

As part of the current street improvement plan, the city planned to make improvements to the streets serving the Oak Ridge subdivision. The original plan called for the use of concrete but because of the current difference when comparing the prices of concrete and asphalt, it was decided to continue the project but use less concrete and more asphalt.

 

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