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Bonding For 2nd Transformer, Other Equipment Approved

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Faced with short notice from Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) that will end a ten year agreement for mutual transformer backup with Eagle River Light & Water department on April 1, 2020, the city council, meeting jointly with the Light & Water Commission, voted to bond for their own second transformer and other projects totaling $2.2 million.

Utility manager Mike Sanborn indicated WPS presented an option to the city but felt it would not be favorable for utility customers. “Their option would be very expensive for our rate payers,” Sanborn said, noting “the city would have to pay $12,000 a month or $55,000 a year and it could go over $200,000 depending on what time of the year we needed the service.”

Eagle River Mayor Jeff Hyslop felt that would be expensive “for renting space if we used it or not” and city administrator Joe Laux saying WPS was not interesed in extending the “drop dead date” feeling the directive comes from WEC Energy Group that owns WPS.

Council member Jerry Burkett was more blunt in his assessment. “This is a clear indication of business thinking by WEC Energy Group,” Burkett said. “They are taking a good neighbor policy and throwing it out the window.”

The council was presented a bonding plan composed of a note anticipation note for up to five years then to long term financing with a $2.2 million bond. The project would buy a 2nd transformer at $1,316,000, new bucket truck for $260,000, $418,000 for West Pine Street substation, and $215,000 for a larger electrical service to Trig's.

The council directed staff to investigate local interest rates and then call a special meeting to authorize Mayor Hyslop and city clerk-treasurer Debbie Brown to sign the bonding forms.

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