FPB Board approves cable/telecom upgrades

Board member Dr. Scott Green serves at his final meeting.

FRANKFORT – Frankfort Plant Board customers will soon see improvement in signal quality of cable TV, broadband and telephone. At its September meeting, the board approved upgrades to replace aging equipment in the cable/telecom infrastructure. In addition, the board accepted the final plans for the headend/reservoir property at Tanglewood.

The board approved the purchase of Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial (HFC) infrastructure improvements for amplifiers and line extenders. The nearly $1.6 million project was included in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Staff has planned and budgeted to replace the equipment since 2015. Consultants agreed and recommended at the August 2017 board meeting that these improvements be made immediately.

Many of the existing components were placed in service between 1999 and 2003 with a design life expectancy of 10 years. The initial manufacturer of equipment has gone out of business and spare parts are non-existent. The old equipment can no longer provide reliable service to FPB’s 17,500 cable TV, broadband and telephone customers.

The replacement amps and line extenders have a higher signal capability making the quality better to the cable TV, broadband and telephone subscriber. The replacement equipment will operate at 1 GHz while the existing equipment operates at 750 MHz.  This additional 250 MHz of spectrum allows FPB to utilize the spectrum to provide more Internet capacity and faster Internet speeds to the customer. This upgrade provides FPB with more time to develop plans for a fiber-to-the-home design.

The board approved the final construction documents and specifications for the fencing, landscaping and parking lot demolition at the headend/reservoir property. The Board approved the schedule for this project in July 2017.  GRW presented the plan at last month’s meeting. Staff then met with members of the Tanglewood Neighborhood Association to incorporate their comments and suggestions into the final design. FPB will now submit the plan for consideration to the Frankfort/Franklin County Planning Commission.

In an effort to reduce the cost of customer billing, the board voted to schedule a public hearing to discuss a one-time promotional credit of $5 to customers converting from paper to paperless electronic billing. Last year, FPB produced and mailed an average of 31,079 paper bills per month. FPB spent approximately $246,000 on paper, envelopes and postage related to paper billing in fiscal year 2016-2017, which equates to approximately $0.66 per paper bill produced and mailed. 

The public hearing will be held on Oct. 17 to coincide with the board’s next monthly meeting.

The board accepted a follow-up report submitted by Energy + Environmental Economics, Inc. (E3), a California consultant hired to analyze the economic and contractual risks and benefits of FPB’s participation in the Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency (KyMEA). The report lays out strategy alternatives for moving forward to procure power.

In 2015, FPB voted that it would no longer purchase power from Kentucky Utilities (KU) once the contract expires in 2019. In an effort to obtain a more economical, flexible and environmentally responsible power supply, the board then approved an agreement to join KyMEA, which includes nine other Kentucky municipal utilities.

After reviewing KyMEA materials, the E3 consultants voiced concern with the contract and offered three options for FPB: remain in KyMEA and pursue changes to the interlocal agreement and the all requirements contract; withdraw from KyMEA and pursue its own power procurement program; or remain in KYMEA and not pursue changes.

The board voted not to obtain legal counsel regarding the KyMEA review until a work plan is in place.

After a review of references and much discussion, the board re-considered a contract with Corix Utility Services for meter reading services. The board voted to reverse last month’s decision to pursue that contract and requested staff to explore the possibility of hiring locally on a temporary basis.

The FPB Water Department had several items on the agenda for board action. The board approved documentation needed to secure a grant for a waterline project in Millville, executed an agreement with the Bluegrass Area Development District to administer that grant, authorized FPB to apply for a Kentucky Infrastructure loan for the reservoir replacement project, and approved amendments to a contract with Strand Associates for additional services necessary for that project.

In other business, the board awarded a number of bids to purchase needed electrical equipment including a transformer, circuit breakers, switches and an online transformer filtration system; appointed student representative Madeline Crescitelli, a junior at Frankfort High School, to the Cable Advisory Committee, and approved a renewal of the PAC12 network. This NCTC agreement has a term through June 30, 2024.  FPB currently carries PAC12 on channel 794 on the optional Sports Plus tier.

Dr. Scott Green ended his seven-year service to FPB as his term on the Board of Directors ends Sept. 23, 2017. Mayor Gippy Graham appointed Green in 2010 for a three-year term to fulfill a vacated seat. Green was then reappointed by Mayor Bill May in 2013. He served as vice-chair, acting chair and secretary/treasurer during his tenure.

Green takes pride in the many projects FPB accomplished to improve service to the community while on the board. These include constructing a chlorine treatment facility and a backup generator at the Water Treatment Plant; constructing a new headend and administration building; and terminating FPB’s contract with Kentucky Utilities to join KyMEA in order to pursue more affordable power procurement for customers.

Mayor Bill May is expected to appoint a new member to the FPB Board of Directors this month.

The FPB Board of Directors’ next monthly meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 at 5 p.m. at the FPB administration building at 151 Flynn Ave in Frankfort.


 For news and updates, please go to http://fpb.cc or follow @fewpb and @fpbalerts on Twitter and like us on Facebook.