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How we're current.

In 1893, Traer became the first community in Tama County to receive electric service. This, however, was implemented by a couple of private investors and only provided nighttime lighting. The electric system changed hands in 1906 and again in 1916. The 1916 change involved an individual secretly acting on

behalf of Iowa Power & Light (Alliant). IP&L built a high line (transmission line) from Cedar Rapids to serve the Traer load and abandoned the generation equipment. Power outages were frequent with one outage lasting 4 days.

On November 27, 1920, a municipal electric utility was established when the system was purchased from Iowa Power & Light for around $30,000. Two new steam driven generators were installed with a capacity of 175 kW each. Several improvements and additions to generation capacity were made over the next 30 years.


In 1950, the construction of a new 1000 kW steam turbine‐generator and the light plant was completed. A connection to the transmission system was re‐established to provide standby power when the turbine and generator were out of service for cleaning.


In 1959, the diesel generator plant, also known as the light plant, was built. This facility is still in service today. The first two diesel generators were installed in 1962 with a capacity of 1360 kW each. Additional generators rated 960 kW and 1920 kW were installed at later dates. The total generation capacity of the

engines in the light plant is 6080 kW. These engines were generally used to provide the energy needs of the customers of TMU with purchases from the transmission system occurring during periods of high demand.


The oil embargo of 1973 and the resultant fuel rationing and price increases forced a dramatic shift in the operations of diesel plants across the country. Rather than relying on the engines to fill energy needs purchases of energy from the transmission system became the standard with the engines only

being used in cases of emergencies. By late 1973 or early 1974, high lines were being used to provide electricity to most, if not all of the towns that previously relied on their diesel generators. At that time, the same companies that owned the high lines also owned the power plants that produced the electricity that was delivered over the high lines. With fuel oil being either unavailable or cost-prohibitive the municipal utilities could not compete and the prices for electricity began climbing.


After a decade of increasing prices, TMU and several other municipal utilities purchasing wholesale power from Iowa Light and Power (IPL) formed a coalition. The coalition was originally named The Iowa Defense Group but later changed its name to the Resale Power Group of Iowa or RPGI. RPGI negotiated with IPL for more stability in power prices, for IPL to use the generation owned by the members to produce power during periods of high demand and arranged for IPL to pay a monthly fee for municipals to maintain the generators in a standby state.


The abuse of monopoly power and increasing prices continued and was addressed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 1996 by issuing FERC Order 888. This forced the utilities to separate their transmission functions from their generation functions and to make their transmission systems available to 3rd parties by paying the owner of the transmission system non‐discriminatory rates approved by the FERC.


While dealing with the ongoing changes in the electric industry, TMU continued to focus not only on price control in the wholesale markets but also on maintaining sufficient generation levels to provide for local reliability during emergencies and providing energy during periods of extreme wholesale prices. Based on this philosophy a generator rated at 1875 kW was installed on the south edge of town in 2000. Two more generators with a total capacity of 3750 kW were installed in 2003 east of town on QQ Ave.


Today, TMU is still a member of the coalition, RPGI. Through RPGI Traer utilizes its generation capacity to the maximum extent possible by leasing some of the excess capacity to other RPGI members that either don’t have a generation or don’t have enough capacity to cover their contractual requirements. RPGI also buys energy to meet the needs of all the 26 members. Some of this energy is obtained by contracting with wholesale suppliers and some of it is purchased from the electricity marketplace through an entity known as MISO or the Mid‐continent Independent System Operator.


In 2005, when MISO first entered the energy markets the uncertainties surrounding this new marketplace for wholesale energy supplies caused prices for electricity to increase again. During the first year and a half of MISO’s existence as an energy supplier, wholesale electricity prices increased by over

50%. In response to this TMU again looked for ways to control their energy source and associated costs.


In 2008, a decision was made to invest in wind energy. Through a partnership with a private investor, a wind turbine was purchased and erected. The turbine began producing energy in November of 2011.


Since 2012, the customers of TMU have received 40% of their total energy needs from the energy produced by the turbine.


The latest endeavor by TMU involved allowing customers to directly benefit from ownership in renewables. This was accomplished in 2013 by building a solar facility at the south edge of town. The facility consists of 198 solar panels. Each panel has a capacity of 300 watts. TMU purchased the panels and installed them. TMU also maintains and ensures the panels. TMU customers can purchase one or more panels and receive a credit on their monthly bill for the energy produced by their panels. The ownership will last for the expected life of the panels which is 20 years. At the end of the expected life, TMU will purchase the panels back from the participating customers at a depreciated value of $25 and decommission and dispose of the panels. This arrangement allows TMU customers to realize the benefits of ownership of renewable energy sources without experiencing the associated expenses and

risks and it eliminates the need to have the panels installed on their personal property.

Some facts about the Traer wind turbine:

  • Turbine base consists of; 35 tons of steel reinforcing (rebar) and 400 yards of concrete

  • Turbine tower consists of 4 sections.

  • Total tower height is 268 feet tall above the tower foundation ring.

  • Total height above ground is 271 feet.

  • Total weight of the tower sections is 322,000 pounds or 161 tons.

  • Item that sits atop the tower is called a nacelle.

  • Nacelle weighs in at 29,244 pounds.

  • Hub and blade assembly and the generator are connected to the nacelle.

  • Center of the hub is 85 meters, or 279 feet above ground level.

  • Each blade is 124 feet long and weighs 17,637 pounds.

  • Hub with the blades attached weighs 85,937 pounds

  • Generator itself weighs 101,192 pounds.

  • Hub has 3 blades with a sweep, or diameter of 82 meters, or 270 feet.

  • If the turbine were to stop with one blade pointing straight up it would be 410 feet above the ground.

  • Generator is rated for 1500 kilowatts at full production. It starts producing power with wind in the range of 5 ½ to 6 miles per hour.

  • In the last 5 years, the turbine has produced an average of 6,349,000 kWh of electricity. This is equal to 40% of all the energy consumed by the customers of Traer Electric Utility.


Energy Sources

Purchased Power 9,369,217 kWh

Wind Energy 6,316,089 kWh

Solar Energy 71,046 kWh

Total Energy Sources 15,756,352 kWh

Peak Hourly Demand 3692 kW

Excess Generation Capacity Sold

Winter 1,164 kW/mo.

Summer 3,172 kW/mo.

Excess Capacity Revenue

Winter $3,259.20/mo.

Summer $8,881.60/mo.


2017 Disposition of Energy

Energy Sold

Residential 5,729,299 kWh = $746,298.32 – 729 customers

Commercial 5,161,195 kWh = $562,145.59 – 142 customers

Rural 2,071,729 kWh = $286,084.40 – 179 customers

Heating 111,924 kWh = $12,883.16 – 10 customers

Heat Pump 914,892 kWh = $74,473.00 – 37 customers

Commercial Heat Pump 51,880 kWh = $4,173.97 – 1 customer

Street Lighting 183,611 kWh

Station Power 387,237 kWh

Transformer losses 514,331 kWh

Transmission losses 630,254 kWh



– George Carlin

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