Two MRES members and one associate receive national recognition for reliability and safety practices
Three municipal electric systems that are affiliated with Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) were among the 90 public power utilities from across the nation to earn recognition from the American Public Power Association (APPA) for providing consumers with the highest degree of reliable and safe electric service.
MRES names Nystrom Electrical Contracting as first recipient of energy efficiency award
Many commercial and industrial facilities in Pierre and Fort Pierre have been busy upgrading their lighting systems in an effort to lower monthly operating costs and protect the environment. Lighting consumes close to 35 percent of the electricity used in commercial buildings in the United States, but many businesses here are taking action to reduce local energy use.
Missouri River Energy Services has named Nystrom Electrical Contracting as the first recipient of the Bright Energy Solutions® “Excellence in Energy Efficiency” award. The Pierre contractor has upgraded numerous lighting systems for business customers in Pierre and Fort Pierre. Nystrom’s lighting projects have resulted in savings far beyond those of any other lighting retrofit contractor in 57 participating communities.
The energy savings that Nystrom’s has helped to achieve come primarily from the elimination of metal halide and T12 fluorescent lighting systems in commercial and industrial facilities. “The old T12 fluorescent lamps are those that most folks grew up with – four or eight feet long and one and a half inches in diameter” explains Randy Schumacher with Nystrom’s. “We’re replacing the existing lamps and ballasts with T8 fluorescent systems that are way more efficient. Plus, the T8 lamps last much longer. Many times, we don’t need to replace the whole fixture - we just change out the lamps and ballasts. But, we always look hard to go even deeper with the savings.”
Additional savings can be gained by correctly choosing from a large variety of T8 lamp and ballast combinations to more precisely match the amount of light needed in a space.
According to Mayor Laurie Gill of Pierre “Nystrom Electrical Contractors have helped to achieve savings that not only reduce their customers’ electric bills, but that also translate into savings for the whole community.” The cities of Pierre and Fort Pierre pay for electric power supply based, in part, on “peak demand” set during times of high energy use in the community. “When the community’s peak demand is reduced through conservation efforts, it results in a reduced overall energy cost – which benefits all of the electric customers in that respective community.” Projects implemented by Nystrom’s account for a reduction of nearly 500,000 watts. That’s equivalent to eliminating over 8,300 table lamps with 60 watt bulbs during peak energy use times.
Mayor Gill says that she is proud of Nystom Electric. “It’s really nice to know that we have someone in our own community doing such a great job of reducing our energy needs.”
John Nystrom, President of Nystrom Electrical Contracting is pleased with the award. “We are really happy about receiving this award, but the real winners here are the folks who have stepped up to the plate and updated their lighting systems. They will see reductions in their utility bills every month. Plus, in most cases the quality of light is much better with these new systems.”
The Bright Energy Solutions program is offered by Pierre and Fort Pierre municipal electric systems to provide cash incentives for their electric customers’ energy efficiency projects. The Commercial Lighting Program is designed to help lower the up-front costs of indoor lighting projects. In addition, program staff is available to work with the business’s contractor to secure cost and payback information. The incentives are provided regardless of the contractor chosen by the participating business.
According to Mayor Sam Tidball of Fort Pierre, “The incentives shorten the payback period quite a bit. We have had several customers who have taken advantage of the incentives – for example replacing their old metal halide fixtures with high bay fluorescent fixtures. Lighting retrofits are a very successful way for businesses to help lower monthly operating costs.”
MRES offers scholarship opportunities to high school seniors
Up to ten $1,000 scholarships are available from MRES to 2013 high school graduates who plan to enroll full-time in an accredited four-year or two-year college, university, or a vocational school in the fall.
Graduating high school seniors whose parents or legal guardians reside in one of MRES municipal utilities service areas are eligible for the scholarships.
Awards are renewable for up to three additional years for students who meet academic performance requirements.
Although MRES expects scholarships will be presented to students entering a broad variety of course studies, students planning to train as an electrical line worker, electrical engineer or in a closely related field are strongly encouraged to apply.
Scholarship guidelines and applications are available below, or by contacting the guidance office at participating high schools.
Application forms and other required materials must be postmarked by March 15. Scholarship winners will be notified in May.
Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency refunds $57 million of bonds
The Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (Western Minnesota) has refinanced about $57 million of tax-exempt bonds originally issued in 2003.
Pricing of the bonds was completed Aug. 8 with Citigroup acting as senior underwriter. The 2012 Series A Power Supply Revenue Refunding Bonds have an all-in true interest cost of 3.27 percent. The refinancing resulted in a net present value savings in excess of $11 million or 19.6% of the refunded bonds. The bonds have an average maturity of 14.4 years, maturing between 2024 and 2030. The total debt service savings for the next 17 years exceeds $15 million, with annual debt service savings of $550,000 for the next 10 years and $1.4 million annually thereafter. Closing on the 2012 bonds is set for Oct. 4.
Both Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service affirmed their existing ratings of the Western Minnesota Bonds. Fitch rates the bonds AA- with a stable outlook, while Moody’s rates the bonds Aa3, also with a stable outlook. Western Minnesota is one of a handful of joint action agencies in the country with ratings in the AA category.
Western Minnesota is a municipal corporation and political subdivision of the State of Minnesota and has financed the construction and acquisition for all of the electric generating and transmission facilities used to serve the municipal members of Missouri River Energy Services (MRES). The 23 members of Western Minnesota also are members of MRES.
MRES is a not-for-profit joint-action agency that provides wholesale electricity and energy services to 61 member municipalities in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. All MRES members own and operate local electric distribution systems.
“We are very pleased with the results of the sale and the strong investor demand for the bonds. The interest rates were only 40 basis points over the MMD and the lowest in the 36-year history of Western Minnesota for similar maturities.” said MRES CEO Tom Heller. “The historically low interest rates and the strong credit ratings of Western Minnesota were the key factors in achieving these savings. The debt service savings will help keep the power supply costs of MRES among the lowest in the region.”
Western Minnesota and MRES have a power supply agreement under which Western Minnesota sells to MRES all of the output of its generating and transmission facilities. MRES provides all administrative services for Western Minnesota.
For more information, contact Merlin Sawyer at Missouri River Energy Services, phone: 605-338-4042; e-mail email@example.com
Four MRES members receive national recognition for reliability and safety practices
Four members of Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) were among the 94 public power utilities from across the nation to earn recognition from the American Public Power Association (APPA) for providing consumers with the highest degree of reliable and safe electric service. There are over 2,000 public power utilities throughout the United States.
The four MRES members recognized are all from Minnesota. They are the City of Benson, the Hutchinson Utilities Commission, Marshall Municipal Utilities, and the City of Luverne. MRES crews provide distribution maintenance services for Benson and Luverne. “We congratulate these four MRES members for this distinguished achievement,” said Bill Radio, MRES director of Member and Public Relations. “We are especially proud to have participated in this achievement through our maintenance of the electric distribution and generation systems in both Benson and Luverne.”
“Our member utilities have a long history of providing reliable, safe, cost-effective service to their customers,” said MRES CEO Tom Heller. “The recognition of these four systems is an acknowledgement of their excellence in these areas.”
APPA established its Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3®) program to honor locally owned, locally controlled utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement. There are three levels of recognition in the RP3 program – Diamond, for utilities that successfully meet 100 percent of the defined criteria; Platinum for utilities that meet 90 percent of the criteria; and Gold, for utilities that meet 80 percent of the criteria.
Benson, Hutchinson, and Marshall earned the RP3 Platinum designation, while Luverne earned the Gold designation.
Brent McKinney from the City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., who chairs APPA’s RP3 Review Panel, presented the awards, which are valid for a two-year period. “RP3 utilities are serving their customers at the very highest level,” McKinney said. “These utilities have demonstrated that they are providing excellent service now as well as keeping their eyes forward on improvements for the future.”
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For more information, contact Bill Radio at Missouri River Energy Services, phone: 605-338-4042; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency approves contract for turbines, generators at Red Rock Hydroelectric Project
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency’s (WMMPA) Board of Directors, following a recommendation by the Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) Board of Directors, has approved an equipment contract relating to the construction of the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project (RRHP). Construction of RRHP will begin in 2013 at the Red Rock Dam along the Des Moines River near Pella, Iowa.
Voith Hydro, Inc., a Delaware corporation with principal offices in York, Penn., has been selected to supply turbines, generators, and other major powerhouse equipment for the project. Voith, a leading manufacturer of hydroelectric equipment, has installed more than 40,000 generators and turbines worldwide.
“RRHP will be designed to supply about 36 megawatts of power, but will be capable of generating up to 55 megawatts at certain times of the year when water is plentiful,” said MRES Director of Power Supply and Operations Ray Wahle. “Also, this will be dispatchable generation, which is rare for renewable projects these days.” Dispatchable generation is a source of electricity that can be turned on or off or adjusted by operators to meet electrical demand.
Construction of RRHP is slated to be completed in the spring of 2016, and the power plant should be ready for commercial operation in mid 2016. “This project will give MRES another generating resource in our on-going effort to diversify our renewable portfolio,” said MRES CEO Tom Heller.
RRHP will provide economic benefits of nearly $250 million to the four-county region in Iowa during the construction period. “Our economic analysis finds that the project will bring an average of 448 direct and indirect jobs to the area, ramping up to 732 jobs in 2014, and slowly decreasing until construction is completed,” Wahle said.
WMMPA will provide financing for the project. WMMPA is a joint-action agency made up of MRES members in the State of Minnesota. It has provided financing for all of the major generating and transmission facilities with which MRES serves its 61 member municipal electric systems in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
MRES has a power supply agreement with WMMPA obligating MRES to pay for and WMMPA to supply the entire output of WMMPA-owned facilities. MRES, in turn, has long-term power sales agreements with its members to supply them with wholesale power, energy, and transmission needed by the member utilities to serve their customers.
WMMPA acquired RRHP and the license to develop the project from CRD Hydroelectric LLC. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in early 2011, granted the license to CRD to develop the RRHP. Nelson Energy LLC had developed the FERC license under CRD and started the process in the spring of 2005.
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For more information, contact MRES Director of Member and Public Relations Bill Radio, phone: 605-338-4042; e-mail: email@example.com.
Moody's boosts Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency bond rating
Moody’s boosts Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency bond rating
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Moody’s Investors Service announced April 4 that it had upgraded the ratings of the outstanding bonds of the Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (WMMPA) to Aa3 from A1. Moody’s rating outlook for WMMPA is stable. WMMPA currently has about $264 million in outstanding Power Supply Revenue Bonds.
WMMPA is the sole provider of financing for power supply and transmission resources used by Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) to serve its members. MRES has contracts with WMMPA entitling it to the output of WMMPA-owned power supply and transmission facilities. The contracts also require MRES to repay the WMMPA debt related to those facilities.
“Moody’s only rates about 10 percent of the joint action agencies in the country in the double A category and none of these joint action agencies is located in the Midwest,” said MRES Finance Director and CFO Merlin Sawyer. “We are pleased that Moody’s has increased our rating to be in such an exclusive group.”
Moody’s said the upgraded rating “reflects our fundamental view of the consolidated credit quality of MRES, which is the ultimate source of repayment for the bonds.” Among the most notable factors in Moody’s upgrade were the sound financial policies of MRES, which have resulted in ample liquidity and strong debt service coverage; the low cost of power for MRES members; the diversity and overall credit quality of MRES member utility systems, which are the source of revenues pledged to service the bonds; and efforts by MRES to ensure future capacity and improve resource diversity.
Specifically, Moody’s pointed to the significant cash reserves maintained by MRES/WMMPA as well as the ability to quickly adjust wholesale electric rates charged to members when necessary. “The healthy level of liquidity significantly enhances financial flexibility and constitutes a significant credit strength that will continue to be key to maintaining the rating going forward,” Moody’s report said.
“The combination of inexpensive Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) hydroelectric power and the coal-fired power at LRS results in a low average blended power supply rate,” the Moody’s report said. “For 2012, the blended power cost to the members is estimated at about 4.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, which includes the cost of transmission. The cost for generation alone is estimated at about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. This is significantly below the estimated cost for other providers in the region. Recent 30-year extensions of the WAPA contracts assure this advantage will continue.”
In addition, Moody’s took into account the efforts of MRES to diversify its power generating portfolio including the recent addition of a long-term power purchase agreement for 33 megawatts of nuclear power and its plans to develop a 36-megawatt hydroelectricity facility at the Red Rock Dam in Iowa.
Moody’s also noted that MRES is purposely working to reduce its debt ratio, which is effectively below 70 percent according to Moody’s calculations. That is already low in comparison to other U.S. joint-action agencies, and the long-term goal of MRES/WMMPA is to continue to reduce the ratio.
“The upgrade will reduce the interest cost on future debt issuances and lower the cost of delivering power to our members in the future,” Sawyer said. “Western Minnesota’s bonds have had a AA- rating from Fitch Ratings for several years. So now both entities that rate Western Minnesota’s bonds have assigned a rating in the ‘double A’ category, making Western Minnesota’s bonds even more attractive to investors.”
For more information, contact MRES Director of Member and Public Relations Bill Radio at 605-338-4042 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pella begins purchasing all electrical energy from MRES
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- On April 1, Pella, Iowa, began purchasing all of its electrical requirements from Missouri River Energy Services (MRES). Pella became the 61st member of MRES June 9, 2011 and began purchasing a portion of its needs from MRES Nov. 1, 2011.
Pella will continue to own and operate its local electric distribution system. “One of the major benefits of our membership in MRES is our ability to retain control of our local utility,” said City Administrator Mike Nardini. “In addition, our membership will enhance our ability to stabilize power costs in the future.”
MRES, headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D., is a not-for-profit joint-action agency that provides electric energy and energy-related services to its member communities in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Nineteen of the members are in Iowa.
In conjunction with its membership in MRES, Pella is selling to MRES all of the wind energy it receives under its agreement with FPL Energy Hancock County Wind, LLC, and it will receive payments from MRES for the capacity from its local diesel generators.
“We are pleased to welcome Pella to the MRES membership and to provide for the city’s power needs along with many other related services,” said MRES CEO Tom Heller. “Through the addition of Pella to our membership, all MRES members benefit by the increased diversity of our generation resource mix needed to meet this additional load. This relationship will improve reliability in the Pella region as well as for the rest of our members.”
The power MRES sells to its members is generated from a variety of sources including coal, natural gas, wind, nuclear, and diesel.
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For more information, contact Bill Radio at Missouri River Energy Services, phone: 605-338-4042; e-mail email@example.com.
MRES reschedules Technology Days
Missouri River Energy Services has decided to reschedule the Technology Days Conference scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday (February 29-March 1) of this week due to concerns about an approaching major winter storm that is expected to affect most MRES member communities. The Technology Days event has been rescheduled for April 10-11, 2012, at the Sioux Falls Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center.
If you have made hotel reservations at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center, please be sure to cancel those reservations as soon as possible. You may want to make new reservations for the April dates at the same time.
MRES offers Policy Makers Workshop
MRES has developed a new Policy Makers Workshop that will help members and their governing boards keep abreast of the challenges and opportunities facing MRES and their utilities today and over the next several years.
This free workshop is targeted to small groups of 8-15 people at a location and time convenient for members. The workshop, which is about two hours in length, also is designed to allow ample opportunity for discussion of the various issues concerning member utility policymakers.
For more information about the workshop, call MRES at 605-338-4042.
MRES joins North Dakota suit against Minnesota over its energy policy
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced this morning that North Dakota has filed a lawsuit against Minnesota over its Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 (NGEA), which imposes restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions from the generation of electricity imported from outside of Minnesota and consumed in Minnesota.
Missouri River Energy Services announces plans to build hydro facility
Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) has announced its intent to proceed with the planning and development of a hydroelectric generating facility at the Red Rock Reservoir on the Des Moines River.
MRES completes 32-megawatt purchased power agreement with WPPI Energy
Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) has agreed to a 20-year purchased power agreement with WPPI Energy for output from the Point Beach Nuclear Plant (Point Beach) located near Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
Pella joins Missouri River Energy Services
Missouri River Energy Services announced June 9 that the City of Pella, Iowa, has joined MRES as its 61st member.
Missouri River Energy Services gains transmission-owner status in Midwest ISO
The Board of Directors of the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (Midwest ISO) approves application of MRES to become a transmission-owning member of the regional transmission operator.
MRES members gain improved access to utility products and services
MRES and its member communities are now part of Hometown Connections, a network of public power systems from across the U.S., that have access to a wide range of state-of-the-art technologies, utility operations products and services.