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Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# 000-U20AL-00; Johnson County REMC
PW ID# 951; Switchgear Replacement
May 20, 2011
Governor’s Authorized Representative
Indiana Department of Homeland Security
302 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Re: Second Appeal–Johnson County REMC, PA ID 000-U20AL-00, Switchgear Replacement, FEMA-1766-DR-IN, Project Worksheet (PW) 951
Dear Mr. Copeland:
This letter is in response to a letter from your office dated December 21, 2010, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of Johnson County REMC (Applicant). The Applicant requests that the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) approve a change in the Scope of Work (SOW) and additional costs totaling $16,591 for a switchgear damaged as a result of severe storms and flooding in May and June 2008.
The Applicant is a private nonprofit electric utility organized as a cooperative that services homes, schools, and businesses in Johnson County Indiana. Severe storms occurred in Johnson County during the period of May 30 through June 27, 2008, and flooded four switchgear boxes located in the following locations: Somerset Lakes Subdivision (2 switchgears), the Windsong Estates Subdivision (1 switchgear), and in Precedent Industrial Park (1 switchgear). FEMA prepared PW 951 to reimburse the Applicant for costs associated with the repair and replacement of four electrical switchgears totaling $39,282 including a Hazard Mitigation Proposal for $36,261. On September 22, 2008, PW 951 was obligated in the amount of $88,078.
On February 2, 2010, the Applicant requested another version of PW 951 be written for $16,591 to include a second switchgear discovered damaged at Windsong Estates on January 9, 2009, and which it replaced in September 2009. The Applicant stated it first observed water intrusion in the second switchgear box during its initial equipment inspection, but the second switchgear was successfully re-energized and operable while the project was being developed. The Applicant indicated it was not aware it could request to add items to a PW once the project was approved. On September 29, 2010, FEMA denied the request because the Applicant did not meet the October 3, 2008, deadline for identifying additional damage.
In its first appeal dated October 26, 2010, the Applicant argued that the switchgear damage was not discovered until January 2009, and that it was not made aware that it could request additional project cost until December 22, 2009. The Regional Administrator (RA) denied the first appeal on November 12, 2010, explaining that in accordance with 44 CFR §206.202(d)(ii), Application Procedures, Project Worksheets, “the applicant has 60 days following the first substantive meeting with FEMA to identify and to report damages.” Additionally, the RA determined that per 44 CFR §206.223(e), General work eligibility, Negligence, the Applicant did not take prudent measures to protect the switchgear from further damage following the disaster.
The Applicant submitted its second appeal on December 16, 2010, which the State transmitted to FEMA on December 21, 2010. The Applicant reiterates the same position it claimed in the first appeal. The Applicant asserts that it periodically inspects the equipment, and that according to the manufacturer’s manual no mechanical maintenance is required on the switchgear. The State supports the Applicant’s second appeal arguing that the switchgear box was damaged as a direct result of the disaster and cites 44 CFR §206.223, General work eligibility and the Public Assistance Guide, FEMA 322 dated June 2007, page 29. The Applicant submitted supporting documents including a copy of the manufacturer’s manual, S&C Manual PME Pad-Mounted Gear.
The Applicant replaced the switchgear without FEMA’s prior approval and inspection of the damaged facility. In accordance to 44 CFR §206.202(d)(1)(ii), Application procedure, Project worksheets, “The applicant will have 60 days following its first substantive meeting with us to identify and to report damage to us.” The Applicant submitted a request for a change in scope of work to the State on February 2, 2010, 15 months after the original PW was written. FEMA’s Public Assistance Guide, page 140, states that “when a change in scope of work or a need for additional funding is discovered, the applicant should notify the State as soon as possible...”, and that “the timing of the request should be such that the damaged elements can be inspected before it is covered up or repaired.” FEMA was unable to inspect the damage to switchgear #2 prior to the Applicant making the repairs. As such, FEMA could not confirm whether the subsequent damage was caused by a direct result of the disaster pursuant to 44 CFR §206.223(a)(1). A review of the information provided in support of the second appeal showed no basis to alter the earlier determinations of ineligibility.
I have reviewed the information submitted with the appeal and have determined that the Applicant did not meet 44 CFR section 206.223(a)(1), “[b]e required as a result of the emergency or major disaster event,” and the Applicant did not provide timely notice to the State or to FEMA after the damage was discovered. Therefore, I am denying the Applicant’s second appeal.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. This determination is the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206, Appeals.
cc: Andrew Velasquez
FEMA Region V