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Black Earth, Mazo may form bond

 

August 3, 2017



The Village of Mazomanie may join forces with Black Earth to tie together parts of the two electric systems.

The public utility commissions of the two villages recommended entering into an agreement to link the systems as the least-cost way to solve both area’s infrastructure deficiencies.

Mazomanie’s most pressing concern is to upgrade a section of old four-kilowatt line, which has limited the ability of the utility to create loops that would help prevent and manage blackouts to limit the number of customers affected and the length of time. Most village lines are 12-kilowatt.

Engineers and accountants working with the villages’ electric utilities offered two options—one that would upgrade the line and create a loop within the village, and one that would build the line out to the Mazomanie Park and Ride, where it would link up to a line to be built by Black Earth.

The option of continuing the village’s longstanding partnership with Black Earth would cost about $1.3 million and would provide Mazomanie with a solid infrastructure with adequate backup, according to Village Administrator Peter Huebner.

It would solve Mazomanie’s circuit deficiency as well as Black Earth’s issue of relying on one substation, while Mazomanie has two, protecting both communities from longterm outage situations, Huebner said. Black Earth would pay a standby fee of about $8,000 to access Mazomanie’s substations.

The other option, which would solve the issues independently within the village, would cost about $30,000 more.

Either way, the village will need to spend the money to upgrade its electric infrastructure, according to Huebner. The plan outlined could result in a rate increase in Mazomanie of 5 percent within five years. Since the Public Utilities Commission looks at infrastructure investment when considering rate increases, Huebner said the plan would improve Mazomanie’s chances of getting the increase approved.

While board members acknowledged that rate increases are difficult to sell to customers, they pointed out that Mazomanie’s electric bills are on the low end for Wisconsin customers.

“I understand the sensitivity to rate increases, but we have an overriding obligation to ensure reliability,” Village President Gary Huebner said.

The Mazomanie Village Board approved the plan in concept, but the Black Earth Village Board still needs to consider it in August. If both decide to move forward, an agreement would need to be drafted and approved by both communities.

 
 

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