Owatonna Public Utilities General Manager Mark Fritsch was a guest on AM 1390's Talk of the Town. With the low price of natural gas, OPU announces that customers should expect a rate decrease of 8 percent, which would translate into a savings of about $52 a year. Water rates are expected to increase 4 percent and electric rates by 1.5 percent.

OPU is also making a slight change in office hours. They will be closing on Thursdays at 6PM instead of 7PM while staying open until 4PM on Fridays instead of 3:30PM.

Meanwhile work continues on the Owatonna Energy Station. The 38-megawatt facility includes four engines manufactured by Caterpillar in Germany. The engines were shipped from Germany to Duluth and then taken by rail to Hope. They were then loaded onto a tractor-trailer with close to 100 wheels and slowly driven up the back roads to Owatonna. The station is expected to be up and running by the end of 2017.

This week OPU crews are stringing lines to the new solar farm that is being built on more than 30 acres. The 5-megawatt facility should be ready by the end of spring 2017.

Fritsch also announced that the utility will now be using a telephone answering service during off hours. This should mean that in times or outages or emergencies there will be enough people to answer all the calls that come in.