SPU restores power

A line worker with Shakopee Public Utilities works to restore power to areas in south Shakopee after a tree limb temporarily knocked out power.

If local residents vote to abolish Shakopee Public Utilities in November, the city plans to manage its own water utility and sign with an outside operator to manage its electric utility, according to a recently-approved Request for Qualifications that was discussed at the Sept. 1 Shakopee City Council meeting.

If approved by voters, the city’s intent is to enter into a 24-month agreement with the selected electric utility operator, according to the RFQ. The selected operator would provide a staff member who would oversee the current SPU electrical superintendent and “report back to the city,” according to Shakopee's Director of Planning and Development Michael Kerski.

After the two-year contract is up, the council would have the option to sign an agreement with the provider, who could then take control of the electric utility’s assets and responsibilities.

Councilmember Matt Lehman, who voted against the RFQ, said at the Sept. 1 council meeting “it’s misleading to say there’s going to be no employee loss when, if the utility is sold off, there’s no control over whether those employees stay or not.”

City Administrator Bill Reynolds said in two years the city council will know enough about the operation to decide whether to sell the electric utility or keep it within the city, stating the city of Chaska runs its own electric utility as part of a city department and “it’s not rocket science.”

“We can certainly do that here,” Reynolds said. “What we’re basically saying is that in a two-year time frame we’re going to get an idea as to what state the utility is in.”

Burkett said the city has not yet sent the RFQ to potential providers, but said some potential electric utility operators include Xcel Energy, Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative and Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association.

The measure to approve the RFQ passed four to one, with Lehman dissenting.

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.

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