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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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January 20, 2022

1/14/2022 1:25:00 PM
Water and Light utility commissioners hike pay; talks with ECE need time

The electric asset valuation initited last fall by the North Branch Water & Light  Commission as part of the process of selling electric assets, is somewhat delayed.

The consultant contract timeline the utility commission accepted in mid-September 2021 showed a report being completed and presented to the utility in November or December.   Utility Commission Chair Nathan Keech announced at last week’s commission meeting the study may be completed no sooner than the end of January.

Commissioners Keech, Phil Carlson and Sean Peterson  were present for the meeting, Peter Schaps and James Baxter were absent.  

The three commissioners voted to raise the commission per meeting pay from $45 to $65. Keech presented the action saying other pay scales he researched went to $75 per meeting.

The second meeting of the month which was cancelled for December, has also been called off for January 19.  

The Chair said talks with power agencies in line to make an offer on the electric assets are still inconclusive. Great River Electric (GRE) and East Central Electric Cooperative are involved in drafting agreements to allow for  existing contracts that North Branch Water & Light has with Southern MN Municipal Power (SMMPA) agency to be absorbed/ bought-out or transferred.  There’s nothing new to bring to the commissioners to be considering at a second January meeting, Keech advised and the meeting was called off.

Commissioner Phil Carlson asked about the North Branch electric utility’s past due accounts specifically.  Will the parties absorb those or does the utility keep them on its books?  

Staff responded that this is one of many items being  negotiated in the hoped for electric dividion sale.

Finance staffer Brenda Jepsen reported for November data—the utility has around 3,000 past due accounts (30-60-90 days from former customers and current) and billing staff continue to work with accounts receivable as speedily bring down the number of possible disconnects. She said the more customers who can sign up for “autopay” ideally makes for a more efficient system.

Attention Tesla owners
North Branch Public Works Director and General Manager Shawn Williams shared that Tesla is working with North Branch on an electric car charging station at — of all places— a gas station in North Branch.

Tesla equipment differs from what’s available now as EV charging equipment at the trailhead area, by the Highway 95 and CSAH 30 intersection.  

Williams said Tesla pays for all costs associated with the charging station project planned for the Holiday station, nearest the freeway, east of 35.

And, Williams got the okay to proceed with three water treatment plant chlorinators that are being replaced in plant number two for $16,000 approximately.  North Branch adds flouride and chlorine to municipal water and there are two treatment plants.  

Williams reports to the utility commission as general manager,  in the wake of the city bringing in utility employees as of October 2021.  Water & Light revenues, however, continue to pay wages.  

The former GM’s contract ended in December.

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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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