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Flood damage to raise power bills in northeast Minnesota

THOMSON, Minn. -- Damage from last year’s historic flooding in the northeastern Minnesota will likely mean an increase in electric bills for Minnesota Power customers to cover $35 million to $44 million in repairs at its dam in Thomson.

According to annual and quarterly filings this year to the Securities and Exchange Commission by parent company Allete, the repairs and improvement costs at the Minnesota Power dam at the Thomson Energy Center will go beyond insurance payments and will be included in capital costs.

Company officials estimate that repairs to the earthen holding pond walls that breached above the dam, the forebay, will cost $25 million to $34 million. None of the work to fix and improve the forebay is covered by insurance.

Repairs to the buildings and other infrastructure are covered, but Allete expects costs beyond insurance coverage to cost $10 million.

Minnesota Power spokeswoman Amy Rutledge said repair work will be done as well as “hardening the system” to prevent damage like that in the historic June flooding last year.

As with any capital project, Allete would have to file a request with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to use increased rates to pay for getting the dam back in use.

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