The McPherson Board of Public Utilities may begin offering new credit card payment options to its customers.

The McPherson Board of Public Utilities may begin offering new credit card payment options to its customers.
During BPU’s bi-weekly meeting on Monday, members of the board discussed what it hopes will be a valuable new option for utility customers. New services would allow customers to pay utility bills online or over the phone by credit card or e-check for a small, flat-rate convenience fee.
Credit card payments would still not be an option when making payments in person, and there would be a ceiling on the amount that could be charged in each transaction. Yet the service would provide a much-desired option to businesses and residents who do not care for existing payment options.
While direct deposit payments already are offered by BPU, board members said customers had requested other options that allow more flexibility. Direct deposit transactions are made at a predetermined time each payment period. Credit card or e-check payments would be more flexible, allowing transactions to take place at any time.
Such an option also would be a time-saver for BPU employees, who would be able to breeze through transactions with less portunities for error.
Similar services were offered several years ago but were stopped due to regulatory restrictions on payments. The new option is being designed with such roadblocks in mind to avoid any complications to customers.
BPU is considering a list of potential vendors for handling the credit card and e-check payments. It hopes to have the service available to customers in the next few months.
In other news:
• The board approved a series of measures toward the refinance of 2004 bonds to reflect actions taken by the McPherson City Commission earlier in the day. Members voted to issue new bonds and to sign documents related to closing the refinance. In discussion it was noted the new bonds, which were offered last Monday, sold over the course of an hour. Final interest rates were more favorable than initially predicted; present value savings, originally projected to be $518,075.84, will be $564,780.82.
• BPU is preparing to replace aging power lines in McPherson’s Liberty Drive area. Residents have been notified via public broadcast over local radio of possible momentary power outages of about 5 to 10 seconds and will receive door hangers with similar information. BPU General Manager Tim Maier said repairs should be complete in the next 2 to 3 weeks and no extended power outages should occur.
• Plans were discussed to replace a voltage regulator on a turbine at Power Plant 2. The regulator was installed in 1973 and has begun exhibiting repetitive control issues. A leaky gas valve will be replaced while the unit is out of service to replace the voltage regulator.
• Final reports from contractors who investigated excessive vibrations at Power Plant 3 were delivered to BPU and suggested replacing a pad beneath the generator to minimize vibration. BPU officials will visit Colwich Power Plant, which has similar equipment, to investigate whether or not the replacement of the pad is necessary. Such action would require moving sensitive equipment, and as current vibrations do not seem to be serious enough to effect the life of the machines, it is unclear whether replacing the pad would actually benefit the equipment.
• Four travel orders were approved to allow BPU employees to attend various conventions across the region.