School gets generator for $1, saves $55K 

MOUNT DESERT — By leasing an emergency generator from the town of Mount Desert for $1 instead of buying a new one, Mount Desert Island High School will save at least $55,000. 

The school’s old generator is on its last legs and can no longer be counted on to run, so the school needs a dependable one to kick in if the main source of power goes out. 

In a case of serendipity, Tony Smith is both Mount Desert’s public works director and a member of the high school’s board of trustees. He told the trustees at their July 25 meeting that the town has a generator in storage that hasn’t been used since 2014 but is in good working condition. 

On Smith’s recommendation, the Select Board voted Monday night to lease the generator to the high school for $1 until next May 31. The vote was 4-1, with Martha Dudman voting no. She said the town should be charging the high school more than $1 to use the generator. 

If both town and school officials want to extend or amend the lease agreement, it might need to be approved by voters at the May 2 town meeting. 

Smith told the Select Board that the 80-kW generator, model year 1997-1998, had been in backup service at the Northeast Harbor wastewater treatment plant. As part of the plant’s upgrade in 2014, that generator was replaced by 250-kW model to meet the plant’s new power demands. The old generator has been in storage at the treatment plant ever since. 

“There was nothing at all wrong with the 80-kW generator in storage other than it was not big enough to meet our needs,” Smith said in a memo to Town Manager Durlin Lunt. “Our mechanics were able to start the generator recently and it ran fine. A load test should be performed on it before we provide it to the school to be sure it is putting out the power levels it should be.” 

At its May 23 meeting, the high school trustees had authorized spending up to $60,000 for a new generator. Smith said the school solicited bids and received one for about $55,000 and one for $72,000. But neither generator had been ordered pending final action by the trustees. 

“If the school were to purchase one of the generators, they would not see delivery of it for up to a year, which would put the school in a very precarious position if it should lose power,” Smith said. 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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