Kasson went through a transitional 2019 when openings for a city administrator and an electric superintendent occurred at the same time. According to Nancy Zaworski, Finance Director and interim Administrator for the city of Kasson, CMPAS helped fill the gap, providing stability and continuity on electric matters.
In fact, Kasson moved forward without missing a step toward its goals for meeting the needs of its present-day and future public power customers. Involved and informed community leaders helped continuous improvement advance at the public power utility.
POWER SUPPLY AND TRANSMISSION
In 2019, Kasson directed CMPAS to investigate what benefits strategic investments in generation and transmission ownership could bring to their customer-owned utility.
“Kasson is the only CMPAS member without significant local generation,” Nancy commented. “Over the years, we have learned from our counterparts who own generation that it’s a valuable tool in stabilizing costs. Our customers have also asked about the benefits of becoming more self-reliant with respect to generation.”
As Nancy pointed out, within the CMPAS group, cities that own generation that can be called on demand are more insulated from price volatility in the wholesale market. Also, should there be a disturbance on the MISO grid, having local generation readily available gives city officials added confidence about their ability to keep the lights on.
An integrated assessment of generation, transmission, and distribution “will be valuable as the city considers strategies for preserving the public power value for our customers,” Nancy continued.
KASSON DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM ADVANCEMENTS
The experience of Jarrod Nelson, Kasson’s Electric Department Supervisor, aligns with Nancy’s. “It gives me peace of mind knowing there are people at CMPAS with skill sets that complement mine,” Jarrod acknowledged.
In 2019, Vignesh Subramanian, CMPAS Systems Engineer, helped upgrade a communications component in Kasson’s SCADA system, making it easier and faster to access data on the health of Kasson’s electric system. Vignesh also installed the Beehive electric modeling system, which will help the city map outages.
Before Kasson digitized its electric-system mapping, its linemen would flip through large paper books of the electric system, trying to figure out which circuits might have tripped off. Accessing the entire system on a laptop or mobile tablet speeds restoration time.
“When you have the entire system electronically visible, it helps us provide better service to our customers,” Jarrod said. “These upgrades can reduce the chance of outages and speed power restoration times. And, by making these digital upgrades, we are making it safer for field employees to work on the system. Safety is always utmost on our minds for new and existing line personnel.”
“We believe in modernizing equipment as we go, rather than running it to failure,” he continued. “Just because the existing equipment works today doesn’t mean it will work tomorrow.”
“Vignesh is a genius with software and computers,“ Jarrod noted. “He’s a great communicator — he’s willing to take the time to explain something and give you his full attention, even though I know he must have a million things on his ‘to do’ list.”