An agreement has been reached that will end the two-year legal battle between Hermann and its electricity supplier.
Mayor Robert Koerber Friday announced the action a day earlier by the Missouri Public Energy Pool (MoPEP) Board of Directors of accepting a recommendation by its Rate Committee to approve an agreement similar to the one endorsed earlier by the Hermann Board of Aldermen.
Koerber says bringing the lawsuit to an end will save Hermann taxpayers as much as $600,000 — the projected cost of carrying the legal challenge to an eventual end in the courts.
Trying to get the city out of the legal entanglement with the utility broker was a pledge made by Koerber during the 2016 mayoral campaign.
The history of the lawsuit begins several years ago during the administration of Mayor Delores Grannemann, who opened conversations with MoPEP in the hopes of finding common ground for resolving differences.
Her efforts were not completed before the mayoral election of 2016, when Tom Shabel defeated Grannemann.
Citing differences between the city and MoPEP, Shabel laid the foundation for the lawsuit to get Hermann out of the 30-plus-city consortium.
The lawsuit became a central issue for Koerber in the three-way race for mayor last year.
“When I ran for mayor last year, I promised the people of Hermann that I would critically evaluate the lawsuit and Hermann’s relationship with MoPEP to determine the facts and then decide whether to continue the lawsuit or drop it,” Koerber said. “The Board of Aldermen and I hired a very knowledgeable utility rate expert to help with this evaluation, which extended over six months and utilized data from many sources.”
He added that the research by both the city and the industry experts determined that MoPEP was in a position to provide a “quality electricity supply at reasonable and competitive prices for many years to come.”
“The overwhelming conclusion is that Hermann is better off remaining a member of MoPEP and operating our own electric company,” Koerber said.