Kyle Hemmig from Central Minnesota Power Agency and Services (CMPAS) came to the Granite Falls city council meeting on Monday night to see if the city wished to participate in a new power purchase contract. CMPAS is an agency that manages power supply related services for municipalities. They have been negotiating with power companies to make a new power supply contract for a portion of Granite's municipal electrical supply. Electricity prices are currently low, so it’s a good time to buy for the long term. One portion of Granite’s current power contract doesn’t expire until 2020.
The new contract is similar to the current one, with an additional component that lets the city take a bit less power in the winter, and substantially less in the spring and fall, when energy demands are the lowest. This works out to being an estimated 10 percent cheaper for the city. The new contract would last until 2033. The council unanimously agreed to the terms of he contract.
EDA Director Cathy Anderson gave the council an update about the whitewater park project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC) which licenses the city's hydroelectic plant and dam, analyzed four possible ideas for the whitewater park.
Two of the ideas were said to not work and still allow Granite Falls to retain their license exemption to generate electricity. The exemption is basically like a license to generate electricity. The two plans that wouldn’t affect the exemption have three stipulations.
•The city has to own all the land rights for the length of the water feature, the land along the river where the whitewater park will be.
•They can’t build a new dam,
The council took no action and ideas for the possible whitewater park will continue to be studied by a local task force.
The council spoke with Ken Feldman, an attorney that’s been working with the city to update the city ordinances to comply with changing state and federal laws regarding small cell wireless antennas and towers. With rapidly advancing technology, taking steps to develop ordinances helps the city be prepared when a company approaches them and wants to install antennas or towers within the city on public right-of-way and on light poles and other utility poles This helps the city come up with design parameters for the installed equipment.
The small cell antennas can vary greatly in size and design. The law restricts the antenna to fit inside a three cubic feet area, but the ancillary equipment (stuff needed to make the antenna work) has to fit within 17 cubic feet. Some existing designs are sleek and compact, and others are clunky and bulky.
The city attorney Greg Holmstrom has already reviewed the proposed update to the ordinance, and the council moved at Monday’s meeting to make the first reading of the new ordinance. There will need to be a second reading passed for the ordinance to take effect. that is expceted to happen at the council's November 20th meeting.
In other news:
The council approved an archeological study for the Memorial Park Phase 1 project. The study, which will be done this year, will cost will be $1,870. The study is a requirement of the large grant the city received for park improvements.
The council discussed adding LED floodlights to light up the pedestrian bridge. There was a lighting test and floodlighting was determined to be aesthetic and also substantially cheaper than other concepts, including outline lighting the bridge. The council also expressed an interest in lighting the city-owned dam. city Manager Crystal Johnson will be in touch with a lighting supplier to get engineering information on both ideas.
The council approved the Fire Department’s updated guidelines, which hadn’t been updated since 2006.
The council approved a low quote of $9,350.00 from Weber Construction for insulating and sheeting the inside of the Electical Department building number two in Highland Park. One other quote from Lonie Anderson Construction came in at 17,700.00
Utility improvements along the alley near the river will be delayed until next spring or summer due to high water levels.