Rochester, MN  ( KROC AM News) -  Construction work is expected next year on a major Rochester Public Utilities project.

The RPU Board Tuesday approved  a staff request to negotiate a contract with The Boldt Company for the engineering and construction of the utility’s planned new energy plant. 

The natural gas-fired plant will be located at  the site of RPU’s existing Westside Substation along 19th St NW, about two miles west of West Circle Drive.  

The plant will be capable of producing 47 megawatts of power which will be sold on the open market or used during peak energy times in the city. The project - called the Westside Energy Station - was approved last year and has an overall budget of $75 million.

RPU’s Director of Power Resources says the five engines that will generate the power were ordered earlier. Wally Schlink says the contract for the engines was $22.5 million. The Boldt contract is for $38.7 million, which leaves the overall budget well below the amount that was set last year. Schlink says it’s hoped the plant will go online in May 2018.  

The RPU Board was also scheduled to vote on a contract for the construction of a new substation to serve the Mayo Clinic Data Center located along West Circle Drive. The extra energy will be needed to accommodate future growth of the center. The new substation will also be used by RPU to meet the growing energy demands in that part of the city. But the board rejected all bids and new ones will be sought at a later date.