SMMPA Member Generation Units Work Overtime During Polar Vortex

Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA)’s member municipal utilities’ local generation units played an important role in keeping the lights on during the recent cold weather brought on by the Polar Vortex. With natural gas in short supply in certain areas of the state, these diesel or dual-fuel units operated nearly nonstop for 30 hours beginning early Wednesday morning.

“These are smaller units that generally don’t run that often, but when they do, they play an important role in contributing to both local and regional electric reliability,” said David Geschwind, Executive Director and CEO of SMMPA. “Our member utilities and their employees are to be commended for being able to quickly respond to the need and working some long hours to operate these units in adverse conditions.”

SMMPA members Blooming Prairie, Grand Marais, Litchfield, Mora, New Prague, North Branch, Preston, Princeton, Redwood Falls, Saint Peter, Spring Valley and Wells have local generation that responded to the request from the electric grid operator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), to generate electricity as many power plants that use natural gas to produce electricity were unable to operate due to natural gas curtailments because of the high demand for natural gas for heating. Collectively, SMMPA members ran 43 local generators on diesel fuel to help keep the electric grid operating reliably.

“It’s more common for the generating units at our members’ power plants to be called upon on the hottest of days in the summer, but clearly they are as valuable in the coldest days of the winter,” says Geschwind. “In either condition, human health can be at risk, so the professionalism of those power plant operators in a time of need is very much appreciated.”

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Our newest issue features articles on a 2019 rate reduction, member economic development efforts and more. This edition of the Current is available here and in the Financials section of the website.


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The Best Gifts Do Great Things

The hottest gifts this season are in electronics and home entertainment. But the best gifts are also good for the environment. ENERGY STAR® certified home electronics go beyond the latest features and functions to deliver great energy efficiency.   


ENERGY STAR certified TVs offer the most popular features and technologies – Smart TV functionality, Ultra High Definition, large screens, LED backlighting – and they're 27% more energy efficient than standard models.


An ENERGY STAR certified tablet uses 10 times less power to stream movies or video than a game console, 7 times less power than streaming to a TV, and 4 times less than streaming to a laptop.


So look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying home electronics this holiday season.  Your loved ones will appreciate it!


Click here and select your utility for more ways to save energy and money.


Save Money on Your Holiday Lighting

Colorful lighting is a great way to make the inside and outside of your home festive during the holidays. And with the holidays quickly approaching, looking for simple ways to save some money can be a high priority!


This holiday season, our member utilities are once again offering their electricity customers rebates of up to $12 for each plug-in LED string or decoration of energy-efficient LED holiday lighting they purchase through the end of the year.  Click here and select your utility to download your Holiday LED rebate coupon.


LED lighting is the most energy-efficient lighting currently available.  LED holiday lights use up to 90% less electricity than incandescent lighting and lasts up to 10 times longer.  While the prices of LED lights are slightly higher than incandescents, a typical household can save up to $50 during the holiday season by using LED holiday lighting!


LED holiday lights offer other benefits as well.  The environmental benefits help make our communities a little greener, and LEDs are cool to the touch - which reduces the risk of fire and personal injury.  And they are available in the same shapes and sizes as traditional lights.


Brighten your holidays with LED lights that save energy and money!

Is Your Home Full Of Energy Vampires?

According to ENERGY STAR®, the average household spends $100 per year on vampire power in their home.  Vampire power is the electricity consumed by electronic devices while they are switched off or in standby mode.

Our guide can help you find the “vampires” in your home.  A few simple changes like making sure you unplug the charger once your phone and tablet are both fully charged is a step in the right direction.


Also, shop for products that have earned the ENERGY STAR.  They use less standby power than conventional models.  Plus, you’ll get rebates on your purchase of qualifying ENERGY STAR products through our rebate programs.

Don’t let Vampire Power take a bite out of your electric bill!  


Discounted LED Bulbs Available for a Limited Time

Be Bright this fall!  Through December 31 (November 30 for Rochester retailers), while supplies last, residential electric customers of SMMPA member utilities are eligible for reduced pricing on ENERGY STAR® qualified LED light bulbs at select retailers


ENERGY STAR-labeled LEDs use 80% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent light bulbs - but less watts doesn’t mean less light!   LEDs produce bright light for less cost because they use less electricity and last longer than incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs - saving time and money on replacements.

By replacing the five most used bulbs in your home with energy-efficient LEDs, you can save about $40 in energy costs during the first year alone.  LEDs also produce less heat than incandescents - improving safety. 


While these financial savings are a big draw, LEDs also offer environmental benefits to help make our member communities a little greener.


Remember, supplies are limited, so get your discounted LEDs before they sell out!  Click here for the entire retailer list.  Discounted LEDs purchased during this promotion are not eligible for our year-round LED rebate program.

Check out our latest "Current" newsletter

Our newest issue features articles on the first year success of the Lemond Solar Center, the Owatonna Energy Station dedication event, highlights from our Crisis Communications Seminar and more. This edition of the Current is available here and in the Financials section of the website.


If you would like to be put on the mailing list to receive Current directly (either by mail or electronically via email) please click here and provide your name and mailing or email address.

Agency dedicates Owatonna Energy Station

Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency hosted an open house Wednesday, August 8, 2018, to dedicate its new 38.8 MW Owatonna Energy Station. The generation facility is the most recent addition to SMMPA’s power supply portfolio, and it replaces a facility that was damaged by the 201 Straight River flood.


This is the second energy station owned and operated by SMMPA. In 2013 the Agency built the 25 MW Fairmont Energy Station.