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Meeting the Department of Natural Resource phosphorus limits could get pricey for the village of Bangor.

Public Works Director Steve Baker told the Bangor Village Board Tuesday to meet the mandated phosphorus limits for wastewater plants will cost the village $2-2.5 million.

In response to the high cost of reducing the phosphorus out of the waste water plant, Baker asked the board to sign a letter penned by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities to ease the burden on small towns like Bangor.

“A lot of us small entities don’t feel it’s fair that we get stuck with most of the cost,” he said.

In response to the high cost of reducing the phosphorus levels in water exiting the plant, the village would need to make substantial upgrades to the plant or face stiff fines.

Baker said, if fined, the county would redistribute the money to local farmers to take actions to reduce run off from their fields, which is a significant source of phosphorus.

“Doesn’t this sound like a really silly circle?” board member Jason Steinke asked. “How is it fair that we are being forced to foot the bill for something that is out of our control?”

The board voted unanimously to approve the letter signing in support of easing the burden of complying with the Clean Water Act.

“They (DNR) are afraid of the farmers,” Baker said. “Sorry, that’s why they are going after the municipalities.”

Great Lakes Utilities

The Bangor Municipal Utility may soon be able to purchase power at lower rates beginning January 2018 said Nilaksh Kothari, managing director for Great Lake Utility at Tuesday nights board meeting.

At this time, a standing contract with the village utility is preventing Great Lakes Utility from fighting for better rates; however, that contract is up January 2018.

“There was nothing we could do until that contract expires,” he said, adding that once it does, “Great Lakes Utility can really start massaging your power supply costs starting next year.”

Great Lakes Utility functions like a cooperative for municipal utilities. Bangor is one of 11 municipalities that participate in this co-op.

“You are actually an owner of Great Lakes Utilities,” Kothari said. “Steve (Baker) here is the city representative.”

All 11 municipalities have voting rights on the board.

“We are the largest municipally-owned utility in the state of Wisconsin,” he said.

Kothari explained that by itself Bangor’s small utility would struggle to purchase the rights to power at competitive rates, but because power is purchased through Great Lakes Utility, they are able to source power at much lower rates.

All power purchased by Bangor to serve its customers is sold wholesale. The local utility is then responsible for setting the rate based on energy pricing, salaries, maintenance costs and upgrades.

“All the retail is done locally through Steve and the village board,” Kothari said.

According to Kothari’s report, the Bangor Municipal Utility’s cost to obtain power from Great Lakes Utility will begin to trend downward beginning in 2019.

“We are forecasting that your costs will be lower than what they are,” Katharine said. “They will remain flat or lower until 2021.”


Winona Daily News Crime & Government Reporter

Tobias Mann covers crime and local government for the Winona Daily News. He can be reached at or at 507-271-3271.

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