Cumberland County’s budget committee approved $139,000 in funding for the unexpected purchase and installation of a new natural gas generator for the Justice Center.

Earlier this week, Cumberland County Sheriff Casey Cox explained the current diesel generator at the Justice Center went down after working successfully for several hours during a recent power failure.

“It came on fine and but when it was cycling down to go off it malfunctioned,” Cox said.

He said it’s the original generator and is 28 years old.

“It is a TCI (Tennessee Correctional Institute) requirement to have a backup source of power in the jail,” Cox said.

He further explained they called Stowers immediately to have it looked at and a rental generator was installed but it will cost roughly $9,000 per month to have the rental.

“The soonest we can get something either fixed, repaired or a new one installed will be 12-14 weeks,” Cox said.

He said they had three options.

•They could repair the current diesel generator by rebuilding the motor and there would be no warranty at approximately $43,000.

•Purchase a new 300 kilowatt diesel generator at roughly $64,800 - $71,500 with rental generator costs and a two-year warranty.

•Purchase a new 300 kilowatt natural gas generator, which is high efficiency at $107,400 to $114,100 with the rental generator. With installation and other related expenses the total would be roughly $139,000.

Cox explained that Volunteer Energy Cooperative recently replaced its generator with the natural gas version because it required less maintenance.

Sonya Rimmer, former county commissioner and employee of VEC, said the natural gas generator was recommended because there’s no checking of diesel levels on a daily basis.

Carl MacLeod, 9th District commissioner, moved to purchase the natural gas generator.

“It’s the better option for the long run. It’s been my experience that there is less maintenance, less moving parts and will save money in the long run,” MacLeod said.

Sue York, 1st District commissioner, supported the motion.

Charles Seiber, 4th District commissioner, said he thought the diesel was more dependable and is priced lower.

“You look at some of these Mack trucks with diesel and they have over a million miles on them. Everything’s diesel. I think it’s the better way to go,” Seiber said.

MacLeod said, “The more diesel sits, the more maintenance is required. If it were running everyday, maybe. But sitting for longer periods of time the natural gas is going to be better and be up in an emergency immediately.”

Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock explained it would be purchased through cooperative purchasing with Sourcewell and can be considered an emergency purchase not to exceed $139,000.

MacLeod’s motion was approved in a 6-2 vote.

Voting in favor were York; Nancy Hyder, 2nd District; Rebecca Stone, 3rd District; Terry Lowe, 5th District; Wendell Wilson, 6th District; and MacLeod.

Jerry Cooper, 7th District commissioner, and Seiber voted no.

Cox said, “I appreciate this and I hate that I had to bring it to you.”

Jim Blalock, 8th District, did not attend the meeting.

Gary Nelson may be reached at

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