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Copper cost overage now unlikely, officials say

By Staff | Oct 29, 2010

The general contractor on the underground transmission line project has reduced the amount of copper they need to complete the project, a move that CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen said will help offset the fear of serious cost overages.
Jacobsen said the original contract called for 240,546 tons of copper, but the contractor decided that 196,311 tons will work after they concluded their testing.
The general contractor on the project is Ft. Lauderdale based Hypower.
“They decided they could use a smaller gauge of wire to carry the amount of electricity required by LCEC,” Jacobsen said. “They’ll be using 44,205 less pounds of copper. That’s a substantial difference.”
LCEC will purchase the copper by the end of November, according to LCEC Spokeswoman Karen Ryan.
Jacobsen said that if the copper were purchased now, it would equate to just over $4,000 in overages.
City officials feared previously that the fluctuating price of copper would drive the overages into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But Jacobsen, while admitting that copper futures were “volatile”, feels the reduced copper tonnage will help to compensate for the alternating price of copper.
“Even though its (price has) risen dramatically, the reduction in the amount needed offsets that cost,” Jacobsen added.
The project is tentatively scheduled to start Jan. 3, and conclude Aug. 5, along South East 46th Lane.
Ryan said the differences in the tonnage was a typical practice of a the design firm — in this case Burns and McDonnell — which then bases its numbers on assumptions.
Those numbers generally fluctuate after testing has been completed, Ryan said, and could either increase or decrease.
“The ballpark estimate is the preliminary idea of what the project is going to entail,” Ryan said. “It’s a high-level view of what the project is going to be.”
Councilmember Marty McClain, also the CRA liaison, said LCEC was working with the city to try and battle past cost overages.
“Obviously we were subject to commodities, but we’ve had to put our trust in LCEC, and they stepped up to do what they promised us they would do,” McClain said. “They fulfilled their promise to us.”