Sun Prairie Utilities has received Public Service Commission approval to proceed with its $1.016 million headquarters relocation, beginning with its property purchases.

The Nov. 5 order granting authority for SPU to proceed with purchase of the 7.837 acres of land located south of 220 Kroncke Drive and 510 Linnerud Drive.

According to the PSC order, the new facility will be between 59,000 and 69,000 sq. ft. and be included in a separate filing with the PSC.

Because of growth and a lack of room at its 125 W. Main St. facility, SPU is seeking to build a new utility operations center on Linnerud Drive.

SPU serves 16,684 electric customers and 23,160 metered water customers in the City of Sun Prairie.

The PSC order was contained in the SPU Commission packet shared with commissioners as part of its Nov. 16 agenda.

The order also found completion of the proposed project at the estimated cost will not substantially impair the efficiency of Sun Prairie’s service, will not provide facilities unreasonably in excess of probable future requirements, and when placed in operation, will not add to the cost of service without proportionately increasing the value or available quantity thereof.

SPU has said, according to PSC documents, the new utility operations facility would likely be constructed in the next five years.

SPU performed a facilities study in 2019 to inventory existing fleet and office space, and forecast the growth and requirements for the next 30 years.

The current SPU operations facility has a total utilized space of approximately 29,000 square feet, whereas the facilities study resulted in showing a space need ranging from 59,000 to 69,000 sq. ft.

SPU has identified several challenges with the conditions of the existing operations facility including material storage and vehicle parking. Fleet vehicles are parked several deep inside the garage and some are parked outside in the customer parking lot.

The existing SPU garage arrangement does not allow for future migration to an electric fleet for charging, even though SPU maintains a charging station in its Main Street parking lot.

SPU considered a do-nothing alternative to seeking a new facility location, but disregarded that because of the Sun Prairie Stronger downtown redevelopment plan, which calls for the current SPU facility downtown to be razed and redeveloped. It also rejected other site alternatives on the basis of higher costs of the properties and the lower accessibility of the sites to the entire service territory.

“For the purposes of this investigation, the Commission deems reasonable Sun Prairie’s consideration of system alternatives,” the Nov. 5 order reads. “The Commission further finds that Sun Prairie’s basis for choosing the proposed project over other system alternatives is reasonable.”

The order requires SPU submit to the PSC the final actual costs, segregated by major accounts, within one year after the property acquisition date.

For those accounts or categories where actual costs deviate significantly from those authorized, Sun Prairie shall itemize and explain the reasons for such deviations in the final cost report.

Beginning with the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2020 and within 30 days of the end of that quarter and each quarter thereafter and continuing until the property is acquired, SPU must submit quarterly progress reports to the PSC, according to the order.

If SPU does not complete the authorized project by Nov. 5 2021, the order authorizing the approved project shall become void unless Sun Prairie files a written request for an extension with the PSC before that date and is granted an extension by the PSC.

If SPU doesn’t complete the project and has not filed an extension, it is required to notify the PSC by Nov. 25, 2021.

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