FPB Board eyes future upgrades for cable/telecom services

Recognizing the need to address Frankfort’s aging cable/telecom infrastructure as it has outlived its lifespan, the Frankfort Plant Board is reviewing upgrade options. At its August meeting, the board heard a presentation from consultants hired to assess the system and make short and long-term recommendations to ensure customers’ future needs are met.  

Engineering Associates in partnership with Kersey Consulting Services conducted a comprehensive cost and feasibility study for the potential implementation of improvements. Tom Grigg and Kim Kersey presented their findings and recommendations to the board and staff.

With the growth of online video services, cell phone and data services and bandwidth traffic along with the drop in traditional video and residential telephone service, it is critical that FPB’s vision for telecom system improvements is adaptable to technology platform alternatives. The study considered several options including Hybrid-Fiber-Coaxial (HFC) maintenance upgrade, DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade, 4G wireless/5G wireless, and Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH).

The consultants recommended the HFC upgrade as a short-term solution while preparing to implement a FTTH project, which they consider the best option for quality, reliability and bandwidth capacity. The report suggested that FPB should replace end-of-life equipment now to address immediate reliability and quality issues. This would expand bandwidth speeds, maintain customer satisfaction and protect revenue needed for the FTTH deployment, projected to cost $44.5 million. The report also discussed potential opportunities to reduce project costs.

The board and FPB staff will further review the feasibility report and discuss timeline and financing options. Staff plans to make recommendations to the board at its September meeting.

Earlier this year, FPB hired Energy + Environmental Economics, Inc. (E3) to analyze the economic and contractual risks and benefits of FPB’s participation in the Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency (KyMEA). At its June meeting, the board accepted the E3 report and approved 11 motions based on E3’s recommendations. FPB’s Board of Directors requested KyMEA’s board review the comments and provide a preliminary response. At its August meeting, FPB’s board accepted KYMEA’s responses and extended E3’s contract to review KYMEA’s response and submit comments.

The board adopted a company-wide blanket non-disclosure policy. The policy will be shared with all employees and board members and will be placed in the FPB Employee Handbook. FPB will also submit the policy to KyMEA.

As FPB begins the initial steps of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure project and considers significant investment in the Telecom Infrastructure, staff asked Terry Bradshaw, executive director of the Kentucky Capital Development Corporation (KCDC), to share with the board what businesses consider and require when looking to locate or expand in a community. Bradshaw discussed the importance of quality, affordable utilities to businesses, in addition to location and transportation and the availability of a skilled workforce.

At its meeting last month, the board approved a schedule for the fence and landscaping project at the reservoir site in Tanglewood. Aaron Nickerson with GRW presented the final fence design and landscaping plan. Some Tanglewood residents were in attendance and asked questions about the plan. In order to stay on the approved schedule, the neighborhood association will meet this week to discuss the plan and provide further input before the September meeting.

In recent years, the water treatment plant has suffered maintenance issues with pump control valves in the High Service Pump Station (HSPS). The existing pump control valves minimize surge by opening and closing at a controlled rate and prevent water from returning from the distribution system into the pump station. Last year, the board hired GRW to perform a transient analysis including computer modeling of available options. GRW recommended installing a slanting disc check valve with hydraulic buffer. At its August meeting, the board approved an agreement with GRW for engineering services to provide design and specifications for bidding followed by construction administration.

The board approved an agreement to offer the Olympic Channel. The term of this National Cable Television Cooperative agreement is through Dec. 31, 2018 and includes streaming and Video On Demand rights. The Olympic Channel, which has no associated license fee through 2020, will be on Preferred Cable channel 144.

In other business, the board awarded a contract to Corix Utility Services for meter reading service and re-appointed Alisha Morris and Eric Cockley to second three-year terms on the Cable Advisory Committee through August 18, 2020. The board also requested staff to develop information comparing the plant board’s carbon footprint to what would be required under the Paris Climate Accord.

The FPB Board of Directors’ next monthly meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017 at 5 p.m. at the FPB administration building at 151 Flynn Ave in Frankfort.