Washington County will adjust its contract for a generator at the county jail in order to secure a lower-power unit for less money.

At a workshop this (Friday) afternoon, commissioners came to a consensus on changing out the 750 kW diesel generator initially agreed to in the contract with W-Industries with a 400 kW dual-fuel generator, primarily powered by natural gas with a propane backup. 

Commissioners believe the change will save the county around $300,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to use towards other projects.  Upon the court’s initial acceptance of the generator proposal in August, the county anticipated spending $736,000 in ARPA funds.

County Judge John Durrenberger and commissioners determined that the 750 kW generator was more than what is necessary to power the jail during an emergency.

Durrenberger stated he was informed by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards that the jail is only required to have an emergency generator to supply electricity to the jail for one and a half hours, with no stipulation as to what kind of fuel supply the generator uses.  He said a 400 kW generator is sufficient for the jail, and that the county is “not required by any kind of statute” to have the larger generator supply for both the sheriff’s office and the jail, only the jail itself.

Commissioner Don Koester said having a natural gas/propane generator will be less expensive given the comparative cost of diesel and the reduced amount of maintenance needed.

Durrenberger said it will take about 30 days to get the contract properly situated and have the specifications for W-Industries.  It will still take several months to acquire the generator, but he said there will not be any extra delivery time, as 400 kW generators are easier to come by than 750 kW units. 

No action was needed by commissioners, as the contract they previously approved gave authority to the county judge to negotiate terms.  No representatives from the sheriff’s office were present to discuss the matter, which has been a topic facing the court since March 2021.


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