New Operator for Duluth Steam Plant Could Soon Be Approved

By KBJR News 1

New Operator for Duluth Steam Plant Could Soon Be Approved

June 8, 2012 Updated Jun 8, 2012 at 10:48 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - The Duluth Steam Plant could soon have a new operator, one with green ideas.

The Duluth City Council will vote whether to approve an agreement with Ever-Green Energy Duluth to manage the Canal Park facility.

One pipe fitter union member said Ever-Green Energy has worked well with union members he's talked to in other locations such as St. Paul.

Existing employees will be transitioned, and the company plans to honor the collective bargaining agreement of plant employees under renewal negotiations.

The city of Duluth would continue to pay operating costs and control all capital improvements, budgets and rates.

The idea is to have the company develop and implement improvements for long term efficiencies, using more sustainable renewable technologies.

In St. Paul the company turned a mostly coal-based energy system into a mostly renewable energy based system.

While improvements are likely, company leaders say any rate increases should be minimal.

"We can spread any kind of upgrades over a number of years, keep those rates low. That's been our experience in St. Paul as well that we finance our system of being able to keep our costs below inflation for the entire time and actually I think right now were sitting at about 2.1 percent over 30 years is what our cost increase has been to our customers," said Kenneth Smith, President and CEO of Ever-Green Energy.

The City would pay the company $20,000 per month, with two scheduled increases through 2017.

The City would also pay a one-time fee of $130,000 for the development of a five year plan.

In the next 15 months, Ever-Green Energy plans to meet will customers to gather input, which will then be used to develop a plan for capital improvements and other long-term efficiencies.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike