More than 50 attend open house on proposed utilities acquisition

By: 
Patrick Fisher, The New Prague Times
Dick Swanson, center, of New Prague asks questions during the open house held by the New Prague Utilities Commission and Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative (MVEC) on Tuesday, April 24. Held at the Park Ballroom, more than 50 people attended the open house where people could ask questions about the proposed acquisition of MVEC by the Utilities Commission. (Patrick Fisher Photo)

The Tuesday April 24, open house held at the Park Ballroom by Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative (MVEC) and the New Prague Utilities Commission (NPUC) drew more than 50 people. MVEC General Manager Ryan Hentges and New Prague’s Utilities General Manager Bruce Reimers provided background in which the NPUC is proposing to acquire four service areas held by MVEC that are in the city limits. There are 750 customers that will be affected by the proposed transfer.

Under the proposal, MVEC will receive an estimated $833,000, plus an estimated $300,000 a year for 10 years in compensation. Reimers said there have been many questions about how MVEC would be paid and if city residents would do so through taxes. He explained there would be no taxes used. NPUC currently has no debt and has been putting funds aside to pay MVEC.

Another question NPUC has received is why is it acquiring the areas. Reimers said a coordinated electric utility service will be more cost-effective and will allow for billing of utilities from one service. Current MVEC customers will be able to stay with most of their energy- wise programs.

Hentges said that under state law NPUC can acquire the areas if they provide compensation. He noted that the cooperative really has no choice. He said the MVEC board of directors have worked to make sure there is a fair settlement and that those affected have time to ask questions. So far the directors have not voted on the transaction. They have received emails, phone calls and hand-written notes from customers stating they didn’t want the change, that they prefer things as is. He said it has been very difficult, but the final decision rests with the NPUC board of directors. Hentges said MVEC would rather they and the NPUC could work together, rather than make the transaction. MVEC is hoping the acquisition does not take place.

During the question and answer session, Reimers was asked to.....

To see more on this story pick up the April 26, 2018 print edition of The New Prague Times. 

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