SMMPA Members Earn APPA Safety Award of Excellence

New Prague Utilities Commission, Owatonna Public Utilities, and the City of Saint Peter have earned the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Safety Award of Excellence for safe operating practices in 2018. 


The utilities receiving this award have proven that safety is of the utmost importance in the operation of their companies.


Entrants were placed in categories according to their number of worker hours and ranked based on the most incident-free records during 2018. The incidence rate, used to judge entries, is based on the number of work-related reportable injuries or illnesses and the number of worker-hours during 2018, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

SMMPA Members Recognized by APPA for Reliable and Safe Service

The following five SMMPA member utilities earned the Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3)® designation from the American Public Power Association (APPA) for providing reliable and safe electric service:

  • Austin Utilities (Diamond Level)

  • New Prague Municipal Utilities (Gold Level)

  • Owatonna Public Utilities (Diamond Level)

  • Rochester Public Utilities (Diamond Level)

  • City of Saint Peter (Gold Level)

The RP3 designation, which lasts for three years, recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement.


Criteria include sound business practices and a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity.

EDF Renewables Announces Commercial Operation of Stoneray Wind Project

EDF Renewables North America announced today that the 100 megawatt (MW) Stoneray Wind Project (Project) is fully operational.  Located in Pipestone and Murray counties in Southwestern Minnesota, the Project consists of 39 wind turbines manufactured by Siemens Gamesa.  The electricity generated by the project will be delivered to SMMPA beginning in 2020 under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

The expected electricity generated at full capacity is enough to meet the consumption of up to 47,000 average Minnesota homes.  This is equivalent to avoiding more than 300,000 metric tons of CO₂ emissions annually which represents the greenhouse gas emissions from 64,000 passenger vehicles driven over the course of one year.

Vice President, Development-North Region, Kate O’Hair, commented, “We are grateful for the community and landowners who backed the development of this project for several years.  This level of long-standing support, along with the State’s favorable regulatory environment, excellent wind resource, and advantageous transmission expansion, is vital to bringing wind projects to operation.”

EDF Renewables will perform asset management services, balance-of-plant, and 24/7/365 remote monitoring and diagnostics from its San Diego-based Operations Control Center (OCC) during the equipment warranty period.  Following the warranty period, the contract will expand to include all asset management, and operations and maintenance services to ensure operational performance, equipment availability and reduce downtime.

Stoneray marks EDF Renewables’ twelfth wind project developed in the state and brings the total of projects to over 1.6 GW demonstrating the company’s commitment to investment, involvement and employment in Minnesota.

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.”

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!