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Water and Light talks 2015 power costs

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Public Utilities Water & Light Commission began discussion about anticipated 2015 wholesale power costs at its Monday meeting. 

According to Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain, rates for Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) will remain stable due to the movement from the drought adder component to the base rate component.

“A few years ago, they (WAPA) implemented a drought adder, because during those years all of WAPA’s preference customers had firm power allocations, and when they weren’t producing enough electricity to meet those obligations, they were buying on the market, and they accumulated a pretty significant debt,” Hain explained.

“So they implemented this drought adder component, which there was a pretty significant number of increases during that time. Over the course of three or four years, our WAPA rates just about doubled,” Hain said.

Hain continued to explain that the drought adder ultimately met or exceeded what the base rate was, and once the debt was paid, the drought adder would be eliminated.

“(Now) they’ve moved from that drought adder component to the base rate component, and currently we are projecting some pretty good rates from them for the next few years,” Hain said.

However, Missouri River Energy Services could see an increase for the next few years.

“The increases equates to about a 3.4 percent increase in 2015, a 3.3 percent increase in 2016 and a 3.2 percent increase in 2017,” Hain said. “As we go into budget preparation and rate setting this fall, where we were looking at having to maybe adjust the retail rate to collect the other 2 percent of last year’s Missouri River’s 4 percent increase rate, now we’re going to have to look at making that up plus accommodating another 3.4 percent.”

This increase is in partial due to the cost of the Red Rock Hydro Project being more than originally planned. The project will build a hydroelectric generating facility at the Red Rock Reservoir on the Des Moines River.

In other business, Hain gave a brief update about the well level since the water ban was lifted.

Since last Friday, the well level dropped a little, but it is still four inches above the 16-year average. This marks the sixth week that the well level has been above that mark, however there is a downward trend.

Since the ban was lifted, Hain noted that he did not see a huge spike in water useage.

“We lifted the ban on (July) 21st, and that next day we saw that our daily water demand actually decreased,” Hain said.

Commissioner Jim Elsing also noted that he has not seen any 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. water usage violations.

Hain stated there had been fewer than a dozen warnings issued about watering between those hours.

Hain concluded the meeting by addressing Saturday’s short power outage on the south end of Worthington.

“We did have a power outage on Saturday for about a little over an hour, and that was due to a mouse that was caught in the switch cabinet,” Hain said.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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