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PPU customers surprised with billing error


Mon, Feb 16th, 2015
Posted in Preston Features

Imagine finding out that your electric utility bill has not been billed correctly for a number of years. OK, now imagine your local utility telling you that the billing error resulted in you owing the utility company anywhere from $18,000 to $40,000. And, then imagine being told that you would have to pay for all undercharged services for the past three years. Keep in mind this was an error in the billing system of the local public utility; nothing in the customer’s control.

Recently, five Preston Public Utility commercial customers were contacted by Preston Public Utility General Manager Joe Hoffman regarding the discrepancy. Four of those customers were told they had been undercharged and they would be required to pay for those services retroactively for the past three years. Meanwhile, another PPU customer had been overcharged and was entitled to a refund.

How the error was discovered

In a meeting with the Fillmore County Journal on Monday, February 9, 2015, Joe Hoffman, who has been General Manager of the Preston Public Utility for the past 10 years while also wearing the hat of City Administrator for the City of Preston, shared details about how this error was discovered.

“Every utility contends with unaccounted for electricity depending on the utility,” shared Hoffman. According to Hoffman, most utilities experience 7 to 10 percent “line loss”. The utility industry reference to line loss relates to the amount of electricity purchased versus what is billed out to customers.

“EIA (Energy Information Administration) estimates that national electricity transmission and distribution losses average about 6% of the electricity that is transmitted and distributed in the United States each year,” cited from www.eia.gov.

Hoffman shared that the PPU, one of 18 non-profit, municipally-owned utilities under a long-term wholesale agreement with the joint-action agency SMMPA (Southeran Minnesota Municipal Power Agency), has been experiencing a line loss of between 11 and 12 percent.

According to Hoffman, this loss in the transmission and distribution of electricity can typically be affected by metering issues, inefficient transformers, conductivity through trees near power lines, or customers tampering with utility metering equipment.

After PPU General Manager Joe Hoffman ret .....
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Preston woman survives vehicular plunge into Root River

Mon, Jan 19th, 2015
Posted in Preston Features

At approximately 7:11 p.m., on Friday, January 9, 2015, the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department dispatch received a report that there was a one vehicle accident south of Wykoff on County Road 5, just south of County Road 12 on the way to Forest ..... 
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“Hot Reads for Cold Nights” at Preston Public Library

Mon, Jan 12th, 2015
Posted in Preston Features

Come in out of the cold and check-out a “Hot” read. Preston Public Library invites adults to sign up for “Hot Reads for Cold Nights”. This event begins Monday Jan. 5 and continues through March 14. Readers’ reviews will be posted on ..... 
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SEMCAC in Preston receives money from “Swipe Out Hunger”

Mon, Jan 5th, 2015
Posted in Preston Features

Merchants Bank’s “Swipe Out Hunger” Facebook giveaway has concluded with a donation of $136 to Semcac in Preston. Merchants Bank donated 5 cents each time a Merchants Bank credit card or debit card was used between November 28 and Decembe ..... 
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Preston man visits polar bears

Mon, Dec 8th, 2014
Posted in Preston Features

Paul Mathison of Preston, Minn. has enjoyed traveling all over the world, including Russia, Norway, Sweden, Nicaragua, and Denmark, as well as other locations. Recently Mathison embarked on a different kind of journey which took him to the frozen t ..... 
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Aliesha Schlaak, a survivor’s story

Mon, Oct 20th, 2014
Posted in Preston Features

We’ve all heard of people who have battled breast cancer. Some of us may know of a friend, a co-worker or neighbor. Some of us may have a family member who has struggled through chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatments. But, the reality ..... 
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Local first year medical student received white coat

Mon, Sep 1st, 2014
Posted in Preston Features

In an emotional event marking the beginning of her medical career, Morgan Mensink from Preston, Minn. received her white coat marking the entrance to medical school. In total, 60 first year medical students, in a rite of passage for students enteri ..... 
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Motor in to Preston Service Plus

Mon, Sep 1st, 2014
Posted in Preston Features

Craig Bond and Justin Jones, new owners of Preston Service Plus, located in Preston, Minn., are getting settled into owning and running their business since taking over July 14, 2014. Both men were employees of Preston Service Plus under previou ..... 
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New facility for Preston industry BCM

Mon, Sep 1st, 2014
Posted in Preston Features

As you drive into Preston from the north on Highway 52, you have probably noticed a site being graded at the new North Industrial Park. Soon an 11,500 square foot facility will be erected for the new home of Bluff Country Manufacturing, Inc. (BCM). ..... 
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