Tuesday evening, the Muscatine Power and Water (MPW) Board of Trustees received an update about the cybersecurity event that occurred January 26 and results from the customer survey conducted in October 2023.

The Utility continues to work with an independent third-party forensic group, along with state and federal authorities, for the investigation, remediation, and recovery from the cybersecurity event. All MPW business system applications were returned to functioning status the same weekend the event occurred and focus swiftly turned to review of potentially compromised sensitive customer data.

Importantly, no known cases of identity theft have been detected. However, MPW is erring on the side of caution regarding customer data that could have been compromised and will provide credit monitoring and identity theft services to all current and former customers for whom potentially compromised data was identified.

“MPW’s commitment to the security and privacy of personal data remains one of our highest priorities,” said General Manager Gage Huston. “As a municipal utility, the trust of our customers is paramount and we encourage everyone to take full advantage of these services, just as we have continued to fortify our own defenses to prevent future cyber threat attempts.”

MPW is partnering with national credit protection service provider TransUnion to handle the customer notifications and help desk support for customers enrolling in the complimentary credit and identity theft monitoring service through CyberScout. Letters to potentially impacted customers will start mailing February 29 and will be delivered via US postal mail in the coming weeks.

MPW senior leadership presented the results of the customer survey conducted October 2023. The survey sought to measure residential customer satisfaction and solicit opinions on the Utility’s water, electric, and communication services.

The survey, conducted by Beyond Feedback®, was sent electronically via email to all known addresses. Various communication avenues were used to inform and encourage customers to complete the quick survey. With 22% of its customers participating in the survey, the response rate exceeded MPW’s expectations and was significantly higher than industry norms.

Results will be used to incorporate improvements in everyday business processes, customer interactions, service, and product enhancements and for future strategic planning. One important measure in the survey was the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Respondents are asked to rate their satisfaction on a 1 to 10 scale. Low scores (detractors) are subtracted from high scores (promoters) giving a net number to compare with benchmark companies. NPS can range from -100 to +100. MPW’s score was at the high end of Good, on the verge of Excellent.

With MPW’s Net Promoter Score of 38.5 being 3-4 times higher than industry benchmarks, Huston commended MPW employees, noting this measurement is a great indicator that their efforts are consistently delivering the kind of great customer experiences embodied in MPW’s strategic initiative, “Give customers reasons to love MPW”.

The Utility also received feedback identifying opportunities for improvement. MPW plans to conduct in-person focus groups with customers to gain additional insights into the survey responses and further clarify any improvement opportunities so they may be addressed.

“We appreciate the time and effort our customers took to complete the survey,” shared Huston. “Their insights will help us in our pursuit of excellence, and their participation fuels MPW’s commitment to delivering exceptional utility services with outstanding, local customer service.”

A closed session was held to discuss the Utility’s plans to acquire additional land to expand its solar portfolio. MPW intends to increase renewable resources output to about 25% of annual native system energy. With Muscatine Solar 1, a 24-megawatt (MW) solar installation anticipated to come online in 2026, the additional solar resources could expand the Utility’s solar portfolio to 100 MW. The Trustees ratified the solar lease and gave approval for the general manager to continue negotiations with the goal of entering into lease agreements with landowners.

“The expansion of MPW’s solar resources is a strategic investment in Muscatine’s future,” stated Huston. “By expanding our solar energy resources, MPW is not only reducing MPW’s carbon footprint but also building a sustainable and resilient energy infrastructure. This endeavor aligns with our responsibility to provide reliable, affordable, flexible, and sustainable energy resources. It also positions MPW to drive positive change for future generations.”

During nine days in the middle of January, Muscatine experienced very cold temperatures and two snowstorms. MPW kept its systems operating due to the hard work of teams throughout the Utility. Mark Roberts, director of finance and administrative services, said “work on all three units at the plant, repair of water main breaks, electric service restoration, and snow removal resulted in higher overtime expenses during January. We appreciate the dedication of MPW team members to meet the needs of our customers.” Roberts also noted that despite the cold spell, on average, January temperatures were above normal resulting in 3% lower electric retail sales than anticipated and wholesale margins were weaker than would have been expected with the cold spell. Net income for the month was $394,000, $52,000 below budget.

In other business, the Trustees:

  • Received and placed on file the annual MPW employees’ pension plan and investment report
  • Received and placed on file the residential customer satisfaction survey
  • Approved PSFs for Unit 7 stack painting, Unit 9 boiler major inspection, and flue gas desulfurization limestone silo and gate repairs
  • Approved annual submittal of the MPW Reliability Plan to the Iowa Utilities Board