PUC OKs bidding for projects to upgrade system

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Public Utilities Commissioned authorized accepting a proposal from Power System Engineering, Inc. (PSE) to develop plans and specifications and set bid date for the well field distribution line river crossing project for $21,000.

The electric distribution lines that supply electricity to the south well field have been undermined by recent floods.

The project was not included in the 2020 budget, but another project occurring in the area at the same time, the involves building a temporary haul road. Implementation at the same time provides savings.

PSE estimates construction at $160,000.

Short Elliot Hendrickson (SEH) was authorized to develop plans and specifications for the Front Street water system improvement project for $13,500.

The water main on North Front Street from First North to Third North is an 1891 cast iron pipe that is undersized, and the Firmenich expansion requires its replacement. The street is in relatively good condition and is not on the city project list. Instead, trenchless installation will be used for this project.

A water system cellular modem communication upgrade was authorized for $28,486 from Automatic Systems Co.

The upgrade will change communications from the remote water booster stations, groundwater storage tanks and elevated storage tanks from the current radio system to cellular phone modems. This is to provide improved stability of communication between the remote stations and the Water Treatment Plant.

The PUC approved net energy billing service rates for 2020. State statute requires a net energy rate to promote renewable energy installations. In New Ulm, this rate is to compensate customers that have installed a solar installation and are connected to the New Ulm Public Utilities distribution system.

Residential rates have changed from $0.1239 per kilowatt-hours (kWh) to $0.1234 kWh. Small commercial rates changed from $0.1127 kWh to $0.1206 per kWh. Large commercial rates changed from $0.0893 to $0.0828 per kWh.

Utilities Director Kris Manderfeld said these are the rates paid to solar customers for energy given back to the system.

There are six residential and seven small commercial customers that qualify for this payment.