KEU keeps Kiel powered up
By Mike Mathes
Kiel Electric Utility employees include, from left, Debbie Casper, Anthony Manier, Al Biely (MPU), Larry Arenz and Ryan Henschel.

Providing power that is reliable and dependable remains the focus of the Kiel Electric Utility.

Serving the community for nearly a century, the utility still provides those services for Kiel residential and commercial customers at an affordable cost. Even with rates increasing in 2011, Kiel’s electrical rates remain among the most affordable in the area. For Kiel Electric Utility customers, the rate hike was the first in once since 2001.

Kiel City Administrator Dennis Dedering, who serves as the administrator overseeing the KEU, said that system reliability has been a key focus the past several years.

“We are really fortunate. We have had no callouts for service issues since the beginning of December. Our crews have focus on other issues as a result,” he noted.

Kiel’s partnering with the Manitowoc Public Utilities continues to pay dividends from an engineering and metering perspective. “They are able to provide us with technical advice and it has helped us improve reliability,” Dedering noted.

Heading into the future the KEU is in good shape, having recently upgraded its main loop around the community.

The key areas to look at from a technical standpoint will be gradually replacing old lines, upgrading rural customer service areas and eliminating the main substation, which has been been serving our customers since the 1920s.

Keeping pace with rising costs

Dedering said the electric industry has changed dramatically over the past 15 years.

For the consumer, the most obvious change has been the increased cost of electricity.

“This is triggered by federal regulations, Midwest Independent Systems Operations (MISO) markets, American Transmission Company (ATC), reliability concerns and the adoption of state regulations for renewable energy goals by 2025,” Dedering noted.

Kiel has been challenged by each of these items. Those challenges are a primary factor in Kiel’s decision to be part of the Great Lakes Utilities (GLU).

The primary goal of GLU is to deliver low cost power to the customers of participating utilities. GLU recently added several new members from the western part of Wisconsin, including Bangor, Barron, Bloomer, Cadott, Cornell, Spooner and Trempeleau. Wakefi eld, Michigan has also joined the GLU consortium.

One of the driving factors for the added participation is the need to continue to pursue renewable energy sources.

GLU is actively working on a join purchase of a wind turbine generating system in western Minnesota.

“This renewable energy will be a portion of our renewable resources portfolio for all the GLU members,” Dedering said.

He added that, while costs of purchased power have been going up for the past 10 years, future pricing could stabilize because the electricity market has enough resources. When the demand for renewable energy increases, so will the price of power.

The Kiel Electric Utility has three linemen on staff, including Anthony Manier, Ryan Henschel and Larry Arenz.

Debbie Casper serves as the meter reader, while Al Biely is the foreman from Manitowoc Public Utilities.