WORTHINGTON - The Worthington Public Utilities Water and Light Commission received an update on storm recovery, studied local energy statistics and awarded a bid for water reconstruction during its Monday afternoon meeting.

WPU General Manager Scott Hain updated the commission on the community’s recovery from last week’s ice storm and power outages.

“Our last outage of this magnitude was six years ago,” he said. He explained that crews spent about 24 hours Thursday and Friday just assessing damage before beginning repairs.

Repairing downed poles and iced-up lines required the help of an additional eight trucks and about 50 linemen from Kansas and Nebraska.

Throughout the process, several major buildings were entirely self-generated, including Sanford Worthington Medical Center, the municipal wastewater plant and Prairie Justice Center. That significantly reduced the workload for linemen, Hain noted.

“We still have some work to do,” said Hain, who expressed optimism that crews will have all power restored as soon as possible.

He also presented energy statistics for commissioners’ review.

Every six months, the city of Owatonna publishes a study of average energy prices in 13 southern Minnesota towns. According to the study, Worthington ranks second-lowest in residential and commercial electricity rates and lowest in industrial electricity rates.

In water prices, Worthington’s average fares slightly worse, at fifth-lowest in residential and seventh-lowest in commercial and industrial water.

Additionally, Hain shared a breakdown of WPU’s power supply mix, as follows:

  • 33% coal
  • 27% hydro power
  • 18% wind
  • 12% nuclear
  • 10% natural gas
  • Less than 1% solar

Of those sources, a total of 45% (hydro and wind) is renewable and 57% (hydro, wind and nuclear) is carbon-free.

The proportion of hydro power is likely to increase when the Red Rock Rural Water System comes online, Hain explained. He added that solar power, which is available 20% of the time, is also likely to increase as further developments are made.

Commissioners also awarded a bid for the Clary Street and McMillan Street water reconstruction project. The only bid submitted came from Duininck Inc. at $1,125,098.50 - about $76,000 (7%) more than the engineer’s estimate.

Hain said even though the bid is high, the project will probably meet its total budget.