Entergy Arkansas will continue to improve service to Hot Springs Village, incoming chief executive officer Rick Riley told the Hot Springs Village Property Owners' Association board of directors last Wednesday.
"Having customers dissatisfied with the reliability of service really pains me," said Riley, who will become Entergy CEO in June. "I think we're making great progress on our aims to improve reliability at reasonable cost."
Riley discussed steps Entergy has taken in recent years to improve service to the Village, including sectionalization, underground reliability work and the addition of a 40-megavolt transformer to the Village substation.
Riley likened sectionalization to adding circuit breakers. Rather than having everything go dark when a circuit goes down, sectionalization limits the range of the outage.
Also, aging underground distribution lines have been upgraded on Castano Drive, Meteoro Way, Peral Circle, Peral Lane, Papagoyo Lane, Castano Way and Bolada Lane.
In 2014, most of Entergy's outages in the Village were equipment related, with vegetation a close second. Following extensive work, in 2015 more than help of the outages were related to vegetation, with equipment failures causing well under a quarter of outages.
Right-of-way clearing will help reduce the number of vegetation-related outages, and decrease the time needed for repairs, Riley said.
Seven miles of right-of-way clearing was completed in March along three-phase feeder circuits from the West Gate along DeSoto Boulevard.
Right-of-way clearing is underway for an eight-mile section along Barcelona Road, Mandarina Way, Camino Road and Balearic Road to the end of the overhead lines. The work is estimated for completion by May 31.
The 40 MVA transformer will cost about $1 million, and takes around a year to manufacture. It should be in service in 2018. It will help prevent the need to bring in a portable transformer in case of a failure of a substation transformer.
The utility invested $687,000 on reliability improvements in the Village area in 2015, and expects to spend $563,000 this year.
Riley spoke of hearing problems faced by Village Yogurt owner Hebert at last January's Public Service Commission hearing. Riley said the service in the Highway 7 corridor is much improved now, as a result of reliability work.
In other business, outgoing board president Harv Shelton said he thinks the POA has made great progress in the past three years.
He said chief operating officer David Twiggs, who came soon after Shelton joined the board in 2013, brought a vision of what HSV can be.
In creating the position of assistant general manager, Linda Mayhood has been able to use her outstanding management skills, Shelton said.
And staff reorganization has enabled the POA to deliver better service, he said.
Relations between the board and staff are much better, he said, adding that communication between the board and staff is now excellent.
Shelton said the three-prong financial plan was crucial to the Village's long-term outlook. It remains unchanged, he said.
In her fiscal report, Lesley Nalley said March was the first month in years the POA has received more assessment revenue than had been billed for the month. Payments from delinquent owners in March resulted in the increase.
Twiggs said it was good news that shows the Village's financial outlook is improving. "That's a very important milestone to me," he said. "We have to be exceedingly pleased with this."
Another factor in the improvement is the relationship with Troon Golf, Twiggs said, which changed the view of HSV golf as "private" to "places you can play."
He cited the recent visit of Fox Sports in filming several golf shows that will bring national attention to HSV, "just because we changed our terminology."
In other board business, directors approved:
A sanitation service area policy
Revision of the architectural control committee charter
Purchase of a Toro five-gang fairway mower for Granada Golf Course. With sales tax, it will be $78,042.03.
Citing a need to protect its investment in sanitation trucks and other equipment, the new POA policy seeks to provide legal protection of its solid water revenue and consumer base. Twiggs said the policy will not prevent the Townhouse Association from contracting to provide sanitation service.
The ACC charter cleaned up language.
The board approved a four-year lease of three Caterpillar backhoes from JA Riggs and Caterpillar Financial Services Corp. Cost is $1,266.87 per month, or $45,607.32 annually.
The board approved a resolution seeking wastewater bonds, to refinance existing bonds at a lower rate and to perform this year's rehabilitation of manholes and other work.
Soon afterward, the Garland County Waterworks and Sewer Facilities Board (Hot Springs Village) met to approve a bond resolution.
Tom Arwood is the public facilities board chairman.
Public works director Jason Temple said this year's road paving program will include repairing DeSoto Boulevard potholes.
Last year's contract to mow 400 miles was successful. This year, the POA expects to contract to mow 500 miles. A full list of this year's proposed road projects is available on the POA website, in the board packet, under "governance," at www.hsvpoa.org.
In current business, the board awarded a two-year Cortez Golf Course restaurant lease to Tony and Amy Kirk of Texarkana, Texas. The contract includes an option for a two-year renewal. They hope to take possession of the building on July 1. Rent will be $850 montly for the first year, going to $950 monthly the second year. Utilities will be paid by the POA, as with the current tenant.
The board certified this year's board election, with property owners Bob Cunningham, Tom Weiss and Bill Roe being elected. Immediately after adjourning, the board reconvened for an organizational meeting. (see related article)
The board's May meeting will be 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 18 in the Ouachita Activities Building, Ponce de Leon Center.
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