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PUC accepts natural gas supply management proposal

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Public Utility Commission accepted a proposal from World Kinect to supply energy management services for providing natural gas.

PUC Director Kris Manderfeld said the New Ulm Public Utilities began seeking new natural gas procurement options following the price spike last February. NUPU began looking at options to mitigate price spikes.

Requests for proposals were submitted to companies that could help protect NUPU from volatile daily gas prices. Four companies responded with options. The PUC chose the proposal from World Kinect.

World Kinect has 30 years of energy management. Manderfeld said the company can offer advice on purchasing and forecasting costs.

“Their main focus would be lower the cost of natural gas through competition, strategy and gas industry knowledge,” Manderfeld.

World Kinect has multiple contracts with gas suppliers, meaning NUPU has options to buy from different companies allowing for competition in pricing.

Manderfeld believes more natural gas spikes are likely in the future, especially with renewable energy coming online. NUPU does not have the staff available to monitor markets every day. It would also create consistency going forward.

The agreement would be for three years at $5,900 a month or $70,800 a year for energy management services.

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A proposal from Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH), for the Well Field Mound and Access Restoration Project was accepted for $23,400.

The proposal is for the FEMA well field mound and access restoration project contract administration services. The proposal will include management and documentation of the construction process, a final topographic survey with drawings of final elevations, construction staking, review equipment, material submittals, and document quantities.

This project is part of a FEMA-declared disaster. The funding is allocated to the state FEMA, with New Ulm being reimbursed after the project. The FEMA process requires extensive documentation with full accountability.

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LaShandra Taylor spoke to the PUC commissioners about the need for continued hardship payment procedures. The PUC previously suspended disconnection and penalties under a COVID-19 deferred payment plan. The plan was designed to be in place until the end of the peacetime emergency. NUPU began transitioning back to a normal payment plan on May 31.

Taylor said the normal method of payment was fine if things were back to normal, but said, “COVID is still going on.”

Taylor said her family was struggling to pay the utility bill because of COVID-related illnesses. Her husband only recently returned to work and she has been out of work related to COVID hospitalizations. Taylor is still experiencing breathing problems related to COVID. She cannot lift more than 50 lbs, excluding her from most available jobs.

“I think you should take into consideration what we’re going through,” she said. “I am sure I am not the only one. You’ve got people who are disabled. You’ve got older people, you’ve got families that are distressed.”

Taylor wanted the PUC to be aware that there were people out there who were not able to go back to pre-COVID times. She asked the commission to give people more time to pay. The commission thanked Taylor for her comments.

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The PUC authorized the city manager to accept the bid from Minnesota Mechanical Solutions, Inc., for the replacement of carbon media at the 20th Street Lift Station odor scrubber for $11,800.

Two quotes were received for this project, with Minnesota Mechanical Solution offering the lower bid.

The projected was budgeted in 2021 for $50,000. The bid came in significantly lower.

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