Electric Department Spotlight
The City of Chaska Electric Department purchases its electricity exclusively from Minnesota Municipal Power Agency MMPA. The City of Chaska is part of 12 Minnesota member municipal utilities. The member communities include the cities of Anoka, Arlington, Brownton, Buffalo, Chaska, East Grand Forks, Elk River, Le Sueur, North St. Paul, Olivia, Shakopee and Wintrop.
MMPA provides electricity to its municipal utility members who then deliver and sell that electricity to customers in their communities. The Agency’s members have a combined population of nearly 150,000 and provide power to 71,624 homes and businesses across Minnesota. MMPA has come a long way since 1995 when 100% of our power purchases were from coal.
MMPA and it’s members have acted very aggressively to shift to cleaner sources of power.
- 2000, Manitoba Hydro was contracted to replace 30 MWs of generation.
- 2001, Minnesota River Station’s 49 MW natural gas generation plant was commissioned.
- 2005-2007, Faribault Energy Park was opened which provides 300 MWs of natural gas generation.
- 2011, MMPA opened Oak Glen Wind Farm, which generates 44 MWs.
- 2013, Hometown Bioenergy Park was opened which provides 8 MWs from Biogas. This project was named the American Biogas Council’s “Project of the Year”.
- 2016, MMPA signed a contract with Black Oak Wind Farm which provides 78 MWs of generation.
MMPA is constructing a 7 MW solar project which is expected to be in service by the end of 2017, as well as a 5 KW solar panel in each of the member cities. All of these contribute to the power generated for Chaska’s customers, in total 24% from renewable energy. As of 2016 the power agency has no coal contracts. The electric industry is changing rapidly, due to the declining renewable costs and low natural gas prices.
The cost of electricity is increasing due, in part, to development of renewable energy and the closing of coal fired generation plants. Coal fired plants produce cheap energy, but the older plants do not burn as clean as the new plants. Natural gas plants are becoming more desirable due to low fuel prices. The other key factor is the rising cost of transmission. There have been many transmission upgrades recently to help manage growth. MMPA can build renewable sources, but the power still needs to get to Chaska through a transmission grid owned by other entities that charge for transmission. In the near future, our power agency will consider building smaller plants closer to the consumption; this will help off set the rising costs of transmission that is beyond our control.
We continue to work with MMPA to safely provide reliable power while remaining compliant with State and Federal regulations on Clean Power.