By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent
Henning Municipal Utilities is one of 61 member municipalities served by Missouri River Energy Services based in Sioux Falls, S.D. The member communities are located in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.
Henning and other members operate their own electric distribution systems.
On Feb. 10, during an evening work session of the Henning City Council, representatives of Missouri River Energy met with council members via Zoom. Topics included keeping electricity rates as low as possible and maintaining the quality of energy services.
Much of the electricity coming to Henning and other municipalities is derived from waterpower along the Missouri River in North Dakota. Other sources of electricity are coal, wind, nuclear, natural gas and solar.
“Sometimes it is cheaper to purchase electricity on the open market,” said Missouri River’s Joni Livingston. “This is a benefit to Henning Municipal Utilities and its electricity consumers.”
Livingston said a core purpose of Missouri River Energy Services is to enhance the value of member utilities such as Henning and its consumers of electricity.
“Important services to Henning include economic development rate discounts, distribution maintenance assistance and smart grid technologies,” Livingston said.
The other Zoom meeting participant, as a representative of Missouri River Energy Services on Feb. 10, was Evan Leebens.
He reminded city council members, and Henning electricity users, that customers are billed for demand and energy.
“Rate classes are based on differences in kilowatt-hour (kwh) usage and other electric service requirements,” Leebens said,
He noted that, currently, a monthly bill for a Henning residential customer, based on 750 kwh usage, would amount to $85.63.
“We at Missouri River Energy have an ongoing rate study program designed to help keep costs to consumers as low as possible,” he said. “We determine the costs of serving each customer class.”
Henning’s energy consumption currently includes 402 residential customers, 111 small commercial customers, 17 large commercial customers and electricity for street lighting and security lighting.
“Rate increases sometimes are needed in order to improve electric reliability,” Leebens said. “Transformers, service lines and the like require some periodic maintenance.”
He said another factor in reliability of service is keeping in mind peak demand, which is the maximum rate of power delivery. Examples are during the cold winter months and during heat waves during the summer months.
Both Livingston and Leebens emphasized that Missouri River Energy Services makes every effort to act in a fiscally responsible manner, while at the same time being environmentally sensitive.
“We work to enhance the value of member utilities such as Henning through quality energy services,” Livingston said.