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Preston Council and utility review proposed contract extension


Fri, Aug 21st, 2009
Posted in Government

The Preston Utility Commission and the Preston City Council met for a second week together on August 18 to study the analysis completed by R. W. Beck, Inc. The firm was tasked by Preston and several other communities that are currently members of the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) to help them weigh the pros and cons of a twenty year extension with SMMPA from 2030 to 2050.

Last week SMMPA company officers gave their sales pitch to encourage Preston, which is in a contract to 2030 with the agency, to extend that contract to 2050. The two largest of the 18 community members, Rochester and Austin, have indicated they don't intend to extend their contracts.

City Administrator Joe Hoffman discussed some of the facts and reasoning highlighted in the twenty-one page report. "Joint action" is expected to benefit members meaning it could be less expensive to be part of the larger agency than to operate independently and purchase and contract energy on their own. With the unlikely permitting to build new plants, other sources may be unwilling to sell their excess energy if there are few prospects for new generation coupled with a growing electrical load.

The report expects the 41 percent share of the coal-fired plant Sherco 3, which is the newest, (built in the late 1980s) and possibly last, coal plant to be built in Minnesota, to be a large asset. However, Hoffman noted while some see it as a real asset, others see it as a liability because of the potential for a federal carbon tax plus possible future low-cost technology.

The Sherco 3 plant has significant value if properly maintained since new generation facilities like it are unlikely to be built due to increasing environmental concerns. This in itself can increase the value of an existing operating plant and its transmission facilities. Hoffman explained how new transmission is a problem due to concerns of high voltage line impacts on "everything from grazing cattle to migratory birds."

The debt currently held by the agency on Sherco 3 is to be fully paid by 2030, suggesting that the cost of power for remaining members at that time would be competitive. Hoffman discussed the possibility of the coal-fired plant becoming uneconomical to operate at some point in time. He questioned how the agency would pay to decommission the plant at a future date, if it were retired. It has been suggested that the agency should start a fund soon so all current members .....
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Preston discusses parking ordinance for residential streets

Fri, Aug 21st, 2009
Posted in Government

Preston Police Chief Matt Schultz, along with City Administrator Joe Hoffman, described the concern over "on street parking" of semi trucks and trailers and recreational vehicles at the city's August 17 meeting. Hoffman said the city has received an ..... 
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Lanesboro strives for approved 2010 budget

Fri, Aug 21st, 2009
Posted in Government

Lanesboro's City Administrator Bobbie Vickerman informed the City Council that the skateboard park had been vandalized for the second time in two weeks. She said the panels were ripped off, cigarettes were all over the place, graffiti had been spray ..... 
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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 ..... 
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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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