Willmar Municipal Utilities Seeks to Increase Investments in Transportation; the water plant project is progressing

At the UMF committee meeting on July 12, the commissioners were informed not only of the major project that will take place at the Northeast Water Treatment Plant, but also of future investments in electric transport. that the utility provider wants to achieve in the short and long term.

When receiving and delivering electricity through the power grid, Willmar pays to use transmission facilities, such as transformers and power lines, owned by other utilities. On the other hand, Willmar receives income from other people who use the facilities owned by WMU.

On an average year, WMU pays $ 3.5 million in transportation costs while earning $ 2 million in revenue, leaving a shortfall of around $ 1 million for the utility provider to pay.

“The goal of our investment in the transmission is to neutralize this as much as possible,” said Jeron Smith, WMU electrical engineer.

To do this, WMU can increase its investment in transport, which is planned. Next month, work will begin on an $ 8.3 million project at the Willmar substation, which will expand the 230 KV facilities and replace the aging 69 KV. There will also be a $ 1.2 million project at the Priam substation to expand the 115 KV facilities. Both are expected to be in service by spring 2022.

Transmission work will also include the construction of a new electrical substation in downtown Willmar, a $ 5.3 million project.

“We need to take all of our equipment out of the power plant building and build an exclusive substation for that equipment,” Smith said.

Design is underway and the necessary transformer has already been ordered, but the project is not quite ready to go yet.

“We still have a way to go,” Smith said.

One transportation project that has yet to go beyond several years is the construction of a new substation on the south side of Willmar.

“Our load is increasing to the south. If this continues, we will be looking at a new substation, but we’re not there yet,” Smith said.

The design of the improvements to the Willmar Northeast water treatment plant is nearing completion, and Willmar Municipal Utilities is hoping to receive state bond funds to help pay for the $ 21 million project.  West Central Tribune file photo.

The design of the improvements to the Willmar Northeast water treatment plant is nearing completion, and Willmar Municipal Utilities is hoping to receive state bond funds to help pay for the $ 21 million project. West Central Tribune file photo.

On the water side, the North East water treatment plant project will improve water quality by installing a new biological filtering system to remove contaminants such as ammonia, iron and manganese. some water. The project could also help the city meet more stringent requirements for salt in wastewater discharge and ensure Willmar has enough water to meet the city’s growing demand.

Design for the $ 21 million project is nearing completion, and UMM staff hope to launch contractors bids early next year. The commission agreed to continue work on the plans for the project.

“This project needs to move forward in a timely manner now, otherwise we may have to consider additional restrictions on water use across the city,” Commissioner Bruce DeBlieck said.

WMU has been studying an improvement project at the North East plant for over a decade. During these years, the costs of the project increased considerably. What was once an estimated $ 8.5 million project has now more than doubled its price. One of the main drivers behind these increases is the rising cost of equipment, building materials and labor.

While water prices have risen 80% over the past few years to help fund the project, WMU is also looking for more pots of money.

“We looked at various grants and funding options,” DeBlieck said. “Hopefully something will happen before our construction tender dates.”

One option WMU hopes to take advantage of is government bond funds. In June, the committee passed a resolution approving staff to apply for a grant to the Minnesota state legislature. At the July 12 meeting, chief executive John Harren said the request had moved forward in the process. It will not be known if WMU receives bond money for several months.

“It went into the book,” Harren said.

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