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101 1st St NE
Box 12
Bowman, ND 58623-0012

City says thanks, but no thanks to MDU, Slope agreement

June 05, 2015



Pioneer Editor |

Two weeks after representatives of Resources Group Inc. approached the , it was decided that the city would not seek a service area agreement between Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. (MDU) and Slope Electric.

The agreement, which had to be formally requested by the city, would have positioned MDU for future growth and keep rates lower for existing customers, according to its parent company’s representatives. The service area for MDU and New England-based co-op Slope Electric would have been hashed out between the two franchises had the city moved forward with any agreement.

The agreement would have detailed the specific area where each franchised utility provided service and deter confusion regarding new developments and avoid disputes between the providers, an MDU rep explained at the May 18 city meeting.

But Slope Electric wasn’t keen on the idea.

Four representatives of Slope Electric attended Tuesday’s city commission meeting and explained their side of the proposed agreement.

“We would like to ask that you hold off on making a decision at this time,” LaWanna Wilhelm, chief of staff for Slope Electric, asked the city commission.

Wilhelm told commissioners that Slope is satisfied with the current joint franchise—which was recently renewed for 20 years—and, to her knowledge, the company has not been involved in any discussions with MDU on the topic.

Wilhelm said Slope Electric would entertain the idea of entering into a service agreement if it was “mutually agreed upon to benefit both utilities and the Bowman community.”

“We strive to provide safe and reliable service to meet the current and future needs of the members of Slope,” she said.

Commission President said she struggled with the idea.

While James said she understood MDU’s request from a business perspective, she said she felt the city “had it covered.”

James said the board could potentially revisit the idea of an agreement in the future if growth becomes widespread.