News and Events
The Utility began the installation of a 50,000 pph package boiler earlier this year. This new boiler utilizes the newest technologies to make steam. It has an operating range of 5,000 pph on the low end and 50,000 pph on the high end. The boiler will produce 50# steam to be fed directly into our core steam district. Prior to this our boilers provided 600# steam to our turbine/generators which, upon passing through the turbine, was extracted for use in the heat district. Once we see how this boiler operates in both the winter and the summer, we will be deciding about the size of a second such boiler to be installed right next to the first. Also with the installation of this boiler comes the first use of a reverse osmosis water purification system.
Plans are underway for the positioning of a 7.5 MW substation on the east side of Virginia near the proposed site of the Public Services building. With the installation of this unit the City should have sufficient capacity to maintain power to all parts of the City in the event of the failure of one of our Minnesota Power feeds. The events of the Fall of 2020 where we experienced several outages on the 306 feeder (the main MP feeder entering town) precipitated this investment. In addition to the feeder installation, switching instrumentation will be installed so that, in the event of a failure of City Feeder #1, which serves the Mall businesses, load will be automatically switched over to this new substation, thus minimizing the length of outages.
For the third year in a row now, steam main replacement continues in the alley just north of Chestnut street. This year VPU staff will be focusing their efforts on the 100 block. Last year work was done on a portion of the 300 and 400 blocks, and the year before that was the 500 block and a portion of the 400 block. This is an example of how, with the new core district, our steam distribution staff will be able to be more proactive at addressing steam leak problems.
This year our plans are to complete the water loops project we began last year. Last year we looped water mains from 5th St S. to 8th St. S. along the old railroad grade east of the Mesabi Daily News building. This year we will be continuing this work from 8th St. South to 13th St. S. For years the mains running down the alleys west of 6th Street South would dead end at Rogerville Road. In bitter cold winters some of those mains were subject to freeze-up due to lack of water flow at the end of the line. This should alleviate that problem.
The City is nearing completion of long overdue reconstruct of several streets in town. On the list for this year are:
- 3rd Street South from 6th Ave to 9th Ave.
- 8th Ave from 3rd St. S. to 8th St. S.
- The Pinemill Court Loop
All the utilities beneath these streets will be replaced.
The Steam Conversion is progressing. The Northside Zone will be shut off effective November 1, 2021. Contractors are focusing their efforts on getting this last round of conversions completed. Of 500 Northside customers on steam at the beginning of this process, roughly 130 remain to be done, which is about 30 ahead of where we were on Southside at this point.