A bare bulb illuminates a jumble of wiring over sinks at the Palo Pinto County Courthouse. Commissioners voted to continue moving forward with plans to update the electrical system and bring it into compliance with the National Electric Code. (Level 5 Design Group Courtesy)
Monday, Palo Pinto County commissioners voted to move forward with plans to bring the courthouse into compliance with the National Electric Code.
Justin Gilmore, of Level 5 Design Group, gave commissioners an overview of problems found during a recent survey of the courthouse electrical system.
"One of the biggest issues is grounding, the courthouse is not grounded," he said.
With photos taken of problem areas, Gilmore said there were electrical panels near sinks, a major problem if there was a leak that resulted in water entering those panels.
He also suggested that all switch and electrical outlet devices be replaced as there were many that had no grounding capability. He explained that many older outlets could not accept the ground plug now common on equipment.
Gilmore also explained that there are electrical panels that are overloaded while others are under utilized. He said loads need to be redistributed. He specifically cited the basement level which had a minimum power requirement and the second and third floors where demand was highest.
The fifth part would be to replace cloth covered wiring, that which was installed when the courthouse was built.
His estimate of the cost for the first portion of the work was $170,000.
He did say he was surprised at the low power demand for the building. The electrical consumption averaged 230 kVA, volt-amperes, with a capability of handling 400 kVA for the operation of lights and equipment and another 400 kVA for the air conditioning system.
His next recommendation was the installation of a diesel generator for back-up power that could provide 250 kVA for up to 10 hours on a tank of fuel.
It would come with n automatic transfer switch that would sense when power was lost and, within three seconds, automatically begin generating power.
That cost would be $130,000.