Public Utilities Council approves Energy Assistance Program

NEW ULM – The New Ulm Public Utilities Commission unanimously agreed to renew their Energy Assistance Program for 2024 Tuesday

The agreement runs between New Ulm Public Utilities, Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC), and the Minnesota Department of Commerce to ensure those who are low income and have trouble paying their utility bills are assisted. Finance Director Nicole Jorgenson explained the benefits of this current system.

“The agreement allows us to receive those payments from MVAC when customers have applied for assistance,” she said. “Without the agreement in place, the payments will be sent directly to customers. And then not all of them will use the payments the way they were intended. And we end up with more delinquent accounts. This streamlines everything with that process.”

Commissioner Sean Fingland said this item has come up for several years.

Jorgenson said there were no changes from the previous year. Commissioner Shannon Hillesheim offered the motion to approve the agreement and Commissioner Mary Ellen Schanus seconded. Commissioner Kim Williams provided a comment before the agreement went up to a vote.

“I think Minnesota Valley Action Council [operates] a really good program,” he said. “It helps a lot of our customers avoiding shut offs, so I really support MVAC.”

In other news, a renewal of the city’s Arctic Wolf Managed Detection and Response platform will ensure New Ulm’s government remains technologically safe. New IT Director Brandon Wortz explained what the program does and how it has helped the city.

“All of our events, incidents, and network traffic get ingested by the Arctic Wolf platform,” he said. “From there, they get analyzed by their team which we have 24/7 access to. If needed, they will elevate incidents and we will work together to resolve them. It’s been very valuable to have.”

The platform’s renewal will cost a little over $53 thousand. This is less than the amount budgeted by the city for this service, at $57.5 thousand. Fingland asked Wortz how long they have been with Arctic Wolf, Wortz said 2023 was their first year with Arctic Wolf and they were very satisfied. Williams made the motion to approve the service renewal and Hillesheim seconded.


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