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Council agrees on lower hydro dam price

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

The purchase price for the Wausau hydro dam has been lowered to $2.6 million. That’s a drop from the original $4.115 million.

At a special Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group voted to accept the lower purchase price.

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The purchase is contingent on legislative approval, which the city recently found out was required. State law says the city can’t buy the dam until it gets approval from the Legislature or the legislative session ends without the Legislature prohibiting it.

The council also voted to extend the due diligence period until April 1 so the city can complete the reviewing of the title work for the hydro dam.

Voting against the purchase price was city council member Mary Koep.

With the vote, the city will also be responsible for water and sewer connections to the site, which could cost about $330,000.

City Council member Gary Scheeler, who serves on the Wausau Task Force, said the move was “the best thing we ever did for the city. It’s one of the biggest investments we can make.”

Scheeler added that Wausau took the “lion’s share” of the capital improvements.

Those specific capital improvements are not able to be named, said City Administrator Patrick Wussow.

Contrary to what Wussow previously said, the five-page summery engineer report on the dam will never be public information.

Wussow said he was misinformed when he said the engineer’s report would be public information if the city buys the dam. Instead, it cannot be released because Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulations make the reports non-public because it has information on specific engineering, vulnerability, or detailed design information about critical infrastructure.

The dam is expected to generate just under 10 percent of Brainerd’s power on a normal day. It gives the same output as a typical wind turbine.

If the city buys the dam, Brainerd residents won’t notice a big dip on their electric bill, officials previously have said. Instead, it could help keep future rates level or smaller.

Another benefit is that it’s cheaper for the city to generate its own power. Currently, Brainerd buys all of its energy from Minnesota Power.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at jessica.larsen@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.

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