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PUC approves budget, picks sites  

The New Ulm Public Utilities Commission Tuesday approved a $41.3 million budget for 2007, narrowed the water tower site selection to three sites and authorized $200,000 in pre-development costs for converting the No. 4 boiler to coal/biomass fuel and developing a nine-Megawatt wind farm.

Highlights of the new budget include $41,330,403 in operating revenue, less operating expenses totaling $41,220,229 for a net income of $1,093,165. The $699,665 increase in unrestricted cash provides a projected cash balance of $10,093,495 – a 27 percent of operating expenses. The budget features a debt service ratio of 2.04 times.

NUPU staff recommended site selection for a new home for the elevated water tower at Hermann Heights be narrowed to sites 5 and 6 from the sites recommended by Bolton & Menk consulting engineers.

Those two sites are on either side of Seventh North Street, otherwise known as old County State Aid Highway 27, west of North Highland Avenue, near the new Kids Xcel day care and learning center. However, during discussion, President James Hogen urged the commission to also consider Site 3, which is on New Ulm Diocesan property on the east side of North Highland Avenue.

After some discussion, motion was made to approve the three-site area as the location of the new elevated water tower that is to replace the water tower and ground storage tank at Hermann Heights. Staff was authorized to begin negotiations to acquire property for future development as a water storage site.

With the course for a long-term power solution set, the commission authorized spending up to $200,000 for planning and project development and related costs including feasibility studies for developing a nine Megawatt Wind Farm option, as well as converting the NUPU’s No. 4 boiler from using natural gas as fuel to the use of coal and/or biomass materials. The two projects are expected to cost over $20 million to build.

The commission also approved a letter of intent, with legal review, between NUPU and Heartland Consumers Power District to enter into a long-term contract for having Heartland, which is based in South Dakota, become NUPU’s primary power supplier for the future, replacing Xcel Energy.

In other action, the commission:

n Approved after considerable debate a revised per lot fee for electric infrastructure installation of electric service in new subdivisions.

Beginning Jan. 1, developers must pay a $1,500 per lot fee to help cover the cost of the infrastructure installation. That fee then will increase to $2,500, starting Jan. 1, 2008. The $350 charge for bringing a line in from the street or alley still would be paid at the time the building permit is issued.

At the present time, the fee totaled $750 with $400 being paid at the time of platting and the $350 paid at the time a building permit was issued. Hogen and Director Gary Gleisner said the utility could not recoup its costs with such a low fee.

n Gave staff approval to submit its wellhead protection program to the state for ratification after a brief public hearing.

n Adopted a general wage increase of 3 percent for 2007 for regular, full-time, non-unionized PUC employees.

n Authorized application to Minnesota Public Facilities Authority for a loan from Drinking Water Fund/Water Pollution Control revolving fund for improvements to municipal wastewater treatment system and delayed enforcement for compliance with wastewater pH limitations from Feb. 1, 2007 to Aug. 1, 2007.

By Ron Larsen

Journal Staff Writer

nujournal.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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