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Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission OKs law firm to investigate general manager, tables organizational assessment and rejects solar project

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission today approved the selection of the St. Cloud law firm of Quinlivan and Hughes by the League of Minnesota Cities to investigate Utilities General Manager Bruce Gomm for possible misconduct.

Utilities Commission Vice President Dave Baker said the firm was retained to review operations at the utility and will be paid by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust on behalf of the Willmar Utilities. The League's Insurance Trust serves as the commission's insurance provider, said Baker.

In related management business, the commission received but took no action on three consultants' proposals to perform an organizational assessment, review the existing organizational structure, identify strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and identify opportunities and challenges for the present and future.

Commissioners said they will study the proposals for discussion at their Jan. 9 meeting.

In other business during the regular meeting, the commission defeated a motion to sign a nonbinding letter of intent to study the feasibility of a solar project with the company tenKsolar of Minneapolis. Officials of tenKsolar proposed the 600-kilowatt-hour project as a showcase to prospective national and worldwide customers.

Officials said they needed the nonbinding letter of intent approved before Friday's deadline to apply for a $600,000 federal grant to keep the cost of the project to Willmar at $1.2 million.

Commissioners were concerned about the cost of the project and they felt rejection of the project would not jeopardize the utility's negotiations with the federal Environmental Protection Agency for renewal of Willmar's power plant air quality permit.

Read more on this story Wednesday in the West Central Tribune.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150