PUC OKs solar panel rules

NEW ULM — The Public Utilities Commission approved a resolution to adopt the new state rules regarding interconnection and distributed energy resources.

Commission President Linda Heine explained the resolution was for customers who wanted to install their own renewable energy source, like solar panels. The local PUC is required to take in the energy generated. An application process is necessary. The state updated the requirements and application to streamline the process. The New Ulm PUC was being asked to adopt the changes made by Minnesota PUC.

The commission unanimously agreed to adopt the changes.

Utility Engineer Dan Pirsig gave an update on planned Electrical Department projects. Substation projects include potential transformer replacement, 69 kV breaker replacement and the replacement of electro-mechanical relays with digital relays.

There are nine transformers on order, with the plan to install seven and have two spares. There are nine 69 kV transformers, with two recently replaced.

The digital relay replacement is driven by requirements for relays. The plan is to replace all electro-mechanical relays. The digital relays have event loggers that allow the utility to analyze what happened during events.

Pirsig said the logger can identify the time an event, like an outage, occurred and the duration of the event.

Transmission projects include changing the feed from the Fort Ridgely Substation to the 23rd North Substation. This will mitigate the damaged poles’ potential effect on the system while the PUC develops the next steps on replacement.

A bid from In Control, Inc., with a $96,000 estimate, was approved to provide supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) hardware and software. Full Service Electric was approved for an electrical connections bid at $16,000. In Control, Inc., and Full Service provided the low bids for this project.

Cathedral High School senior Bridget Grathwohl was awarded the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) Tom Bovitz $500 local scholarship for her essay. Her essay will be submitted to the state contest.

The PUC received the American Public Power Association (APPA) certificate of excellence in reliability.

Interim Utility Director Kris Manderfeld said the award recognizes New Ulm for the low amount of minutes the city was without power. New Ulm was ranked in the top quarter of the nation in regards of electrical system interruption.