CLEVELAND — What was supposed to be an update on Cleveland Public Power's efforts to improve reliability turned into a test balloon for leaders pitching plans for millions in improvements at a city council committee meeting Tuesday.
"I understand the outages, nobody wants to hear about why these things are happening," said Robert Davis, Director of Public Utilities. "We are doing the best that we can given our certain circumstances. We also know that the infrastructure investment that is needed will make a significant difference when it comes to those issues."
Some members of city council expressed frustration with continued power outages for customers of the city-owned utility.
"I just can't tell them that everything is going to be okay anymore," said Council President Kevin Kelley. "I need to know why it's going to be okay and when it's going to be okay as we move into the summer season."
Davis told council that CPP has increased preventative maintenance on switches and breakers and increased tree trimming in an effort to keep limbs off power lines. But, what's really needed he said, is a major investment to improve aging equipment. Davis said the power provider has identified between $175 and $200 million in necessary improvements.
"Maintenance alone is not going to take care of this situation as a whole," said Davis. "We haven't raised rates or had any type of rate discussion in terms of base rates for 35 years."
But Councilman Michael Polensek said CPP needs to look in the mirror.
"If the administration for the last 35 years has not adequately updated and informed the legislative body as to what needs to be addressed, then whose fault is that?" Polensek said.
Davis said CPP expects to have the results of a rate study and a capital improvement plan ready for city council in the next 30 to 60 days.