PUC gives nod to new transformer

NEW ULM – The New Ulm Public Utilities Commission ordered its staff to draw up specifications and seek bids for a new transformer at the city’s South Side Substation at its meeting on Tuesday.

The 20 megavolt transformer will double the capacity of the substation and add a backup to the single 20 MV transformer at the station, which serves major customers such as Kraft, Hy-Vee, Schell’ s, New Ulm Steel and Recycling, Ilpea, Beacon Promotions and the New Ulm Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The South Side Substation was built in 1979, and it was designed to accommodate a second transformer, Utilities Director Pat Wrase told the commissioners.

The electrical demand on the station has grown over the years, to the point where peak load requirements beyond the 80 percent of maximum capacity this past summer. The utilities department has worried that too great a demand could cause failure of the substation that would require several months to fully repair.

The PUC has budgeted $1.5 million for the new transformer, but it is expecting bids to come in below that figure.

The PUC also authorized staff to prepare specs and seek bids for a new digger/derrick truck to replace a 17-year-old truck that has started to need more frequent repairs. The manufacturer of the truck is no longer in business, and parts are hard to find. Wrase said the PUC’s machine shop had to fabricate a replacement part this past year.

The PUC has budgeted $240,000 for the truck.

In other business, the PUC swore in new commissioner Linda Heine and returning commissioner Bill Swann. The PUC also re-elected Bill Steinke as president and Swann as the vice president, and it appointed members to serve on various committees.

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