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The History of the Coggon Municipal Light Plant

The city of Coggon, had electricity before the establishment of the light plant., served by another electric company.  The transformers that served the city were located on 2nd Street South.  Due to a fire that destroyed these transformers, the city was without electric power.  The company serving Coggon at the time, did not feel it was their responsibility to replace them.  The city did not feel that it was their position to replace the transformers, either.  The city council then decided to establish their own power company, in October of 1928.

The city council at that time consisted of:  Mayor, L. A. Hinton; Council members: Fred Jossie, Lynn Savage, Harry Knott, Earl Scott and G.M. Kendall; City Clerk, F.W. Lindahl;  and Treasurer, D.D. Johnson.

On October 8, 1928, the city purchased a Fairbanks Morse, 2 cylinder diesel engine, for the sum of $24,950.  The engine was started on, November 26, 1928.  A permanent building was built around the engine in December of 1928 which is still part of the existing plant today.

The first 2 employees of the plant, were Harry Lyons, Superintendent and Clair Freeman.

On October 17, 1933 a one cylinder diesel engine was purchased from Fairbanks Morse.  As the load increased and the city of Coggon grew, another unit was added in 1938; a 3 cylinder Fairbanks Morse diesel.  A 4 cylinder Fairbanks Morse engine was added in 1948.  This replaced two one cylinder engines that were retired in 1953.  The light plant was voted to be put under a three man board of trustees by the people of Coggon.  The members of the city council at this time were Mayor, L.A. Hinton; council members:  Jerry Boone, Vic Williams, W.M. Crosier, Dr. Ondler and Dr. Hollis Hunter;  City Clerk, L.J. Henderson; and Treasurer, L.M. Henderson.

The first trustees of the Coggon Municipal Light Plant were Gaylord O'Dassa, Wayne Hinton, and Elmer Jossie.  The clerk was William Caldwell and Superintendent was Elmer Wendt.  Elmer was replaced by Don Wurt in 1959.  Don Wurt served as Superintendent for 7 years.  Buck Devoraux, Vernon Lawrence and Dan Johnson served as Superintendents up to 1970, until Robert Farley took on the position for 30 years.

In 1953 the light plant purchased a 200 kilowatt 5 cylinder Fairbanks Morse diesel engine and built on an addition to the south and east part of the plant.  They also replaced an old cooling tower with a radiator to cool the engines.

In 1957 the light plant rebuilt its lines in town at a cost of $110,000.00.  As the use of electricity increased, an addition was added to the west side of the plant to house an additional radiator and auxillary equipment for the new 700 kilowatt diesel engine, which was installed in 1964 at a cost of $75,000.00.  And yet another engine was installed, a 650 kilowatt White Superior diesel engine.  This gave Coggon an additional generating capacity to  the increasing demand of electricity.  In addition to the engine a 5 million BTU radiator was installed.  The radiator had the capacity to cool off the engines.

In 2003 the 2 megawatt Cummins generator was purchased and installed.  In 2014 the old plant sub station was decommissioned and a new switchgear was installed.  The Cummins generator was synchronized  with the new switch gear to automatically come on line in the event that the transmission lines feeding Coggon are disrupted.  The Fairbanks Morse and White Superior engines were retired in 2014.  Currently the Cummins generator is the only running engine in the plant.

Coggon Municipal Light Plant is a member of the resale power group of Iowa.  RPGI is a group of utilities that have joined together to purchase power for resale.  The group has been able to negotiate contracts for power that provide much better prices and terms then each of the individual utilities are able to get on their own.

The people of Coggon can be thankful to the city council of 1928, for building the light plant.