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Preston considers its energy future


Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

The Preston City Council met in special session with the Preston Utility Commission to hear a presentation from the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) early on August 10. Four officers of the company, including Ray Hayward, CEO, Larry Johnston, development and public relations, Dave Geschwind, COO, and John Winter, director of financing and accounting, gave their pitch to encourage Preston to extend their current contract which runs until April 1, 2030, to April 1, 2050. As the contract is written now, after 2030 the contract could be continued on a year to year basis.

SMMPA was formed about thirty years ago following a period when fuel supplies were scarce and when demand for energy was increasing. Communities came together to form SMMPA in order to supply reliable and affordable power. SMMPA has eighteen municipal members including Preston. The three largest current members are Rochester, Austin and Owatonna, which are all permanent board members with four other members taking turns to make up the seven member board.

Hayward explained the contract extensions were needed for planning, so they can forecast how much energy would be needed and how they could meet the need. The extended contracts will provide certainty and predictability. The future makeup of their membership past 2030 is needed to provide information and a business plan to allow debt to be serviced over a greater number of years at a more economical rate and to purchase additional resources to meet future increased demands. SMMPA has invested $100 million in its transmission system, $5.7 million of this in the Preston area. The difference in servicing the debt over 30 years as opposed to 15 will save the members $3 million with lower rates. Rochester and Austin have indicated they do not intend to extend their contracts.

SMMPA's Value

Post 2030 assets stay with the agency and those members that wish to extend. SMMPA owns a 41% share in Sherco 3, a 362 MW coal-fired plant, with the remaining share being owned by X-cel Energy. SMMPA is working to meet the renewable energy requirement, the 25% by 2025 put into law by the state. SMMPA produces currently 8.5 MW from a wind farm near Dexter.

Geschwind, speaking of the significant ownership in Sherco 3, stated, "I doubt Minnesota sees any new coal-fired generation." The reason is the difficulty and feasibility of meeting all the regulations. Johnston commented that the possibility of a new nuc .....
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Spring Valley's new ambulance

Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

The August 10, 2009, Spring Valley City Council meeting might have been classified as one of the shorter meetings. The main item on the agenda was the purchasing of a new ambulance. City Ambulance Director Jim Cooper was present to review the option ..... 
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Harmony approves EDA loans

Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

Two public hearings were held before the regular city council meeting in Harmony on August 11. The first one was for the street assessment project on 5th Avenue SE. The property owners that will be affected by the project, Fred Young and Allan Dahl, ..... 
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Ropes has dialogue with county board

Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

State Senator Sharon Ropes reviewed details of the last legislative session and took notes on commissioner concerns to be explored in the next session at their August 11 meeting. Ropes continues to make an effort to visit cities, townships and count ..... 
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Rushford City Council "takes a stab" at a community center

Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

At the Monday, August 10th meeting of the council, the city made the decision to move forward with plans to seek out proposals on the construction of a 400-seat community center. On a limited budget, the city is offering grant funds of $593,000 for ..... 
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No eminent domain proceedings for Burr Oak extension

Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

The Chatfield City Council took the possibility of eminent domain off the table as a method to acquire property needed for the Burr Oak extension at the council's August 10 meeting. City Attorney Fred Suhler had followed the council's July 23 instru ..... 
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Lanesboro discusses signs

Fri, Aug 7th, 2009
Posted in Government

During a quick meeting on August 3, the Lanesboro City Council had some discussion with City Attorney Tom Manion about signs in the downtown area. At the last meeting, Manion explained that Cheryl Lamon, who owns Cheryl's Apparel, had asked him if s ..... 
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Elected county officials donate unpaid leave

Fri, Aug 7th, 2009
Posted in Government

Elected official voluntary salary reductions were approved by the county board at their August 4 meeting, which was dominated by departmental budget proposals for 2010. With last December's unallotment total of $143,805, the board required employees ..... 
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Rushford Village Council meets

Fri, Aug 7th, 2009
Posted in Government

Pledge to Flag

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. on July 7, 2009, by Acting Mayor Dale Schwanke. Council members present: Dennis Overland, Roger Ekern, and Liz Atkinson. Also present: City Attorney Thomas Manion, Zoning Administra ..... 
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