At Tuesday’s (2/22) Board of Water, Electric, and Communications Trustees meeting, the Trustees were provided updates about the Utility’s newest communications offering: Enterprise Phone Service. The service allows larger businesses to have nearly unlimited phone lines and long-distance. It works with most existing PBX phone systems and is geared toward business customers with either PRI or SIP service.

“We see an opportunity to fully realize the capabilities of MPW’s all-fiber network to expand communications offerings beyond internet and video services,” shared General Manager Gage Huston. “MPW’s investment in fiber infrastructure has provided the foundation for accelerated business development. New opportunities for innovation, expansion and e-commerce are possible with a strong and reliable broadband presence.”

MPW’s Business Class and Enterprise Phone service offers a cost savings to most customers. Businesses interested in MPW’s phone service are encouraged to contact Scott Holmes, business development specialist, at (563) 263-2631 for more information.

The Utility continues to prepare for further electric vehicle (EV) adoption with the recent installation of two EV charging stations, located at the Musser Public Library (408 E 2nd St) and the Merrill Hotel (119 W Mississippi Dr).

A third location is currently being considered in the Park Avenue area.

The chargers, made possible with funding from the Iowa DOT using Volkswagen settlement funds, were made available for use January 27. EV owners across the country can find charger locations via many resources, including the EV Connect app, PlugShare app or even Google Maps.

One $1,500 Early Adopter rebate is still available for the purchase of a new battery electric vehicle (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). To qualify, the vehicle must be registered in Muscatine County and the owner must be an MPW electric customer.

“MPW isn’t just readying the community for EVs,” said Ryan Streck, Director of Utility Service Delivery, “we are starting to transform our own business practices by incorporating environmentally responsible solutions for the utility fleet. In the upcoming years, MPW will be integrating technologies for utility vehicles – reducing fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions while lowering vehicle maintenance costs.”

The Trustees were provided an update about the Utility’s employee pension plan. The results of the 2021 analysis show MPW’s pension plan achieved nearly 100% fully funded status at yearend and 89% on a smoothed basis that takes out market fluctuations. “MPW has been working since the Great Recession to get its primary pension plan closer to full funding, stated Mark Roberts, Director of Finance and Administrative Services, “with our last yearend full funding occurring in 2007.” According to Roberts, “investment returns on the fund have exceeded $12M in each of the last three years.”

Roberts also reviewed the January financial results for the Trustees. He noted January results were close to target, with Net Income of $230K coming in at $79K below budget and $445K below January 2021. Roberts said, “The difference from 2021 is a result of changing wholesale electric market conditions and the availability of MPW generation units.” The Net Income results by utility were $95K for Water and $169K for Communications, while Electric had a $35K loss.

Huston advised the Board that as part of a statewide initiative to gather baseline data for two specific PFAS compounds – Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) – the Iowa DNR recently completed sampling at a few points in the Muscatine water supply system. The results indicated that the trace amounts of PFOS/PFOA compounds detected were well below health advisory levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency, with the highest sample showing results less than a quarter of the advisory level. With trace amounts detected, MPW will begin quarterly sampling to track the results of the compounds and is opting to voluntarily collect and test baseline samples from all 27 of its wells. MPW’s Water Utility staff and its laboratory are state certified and conduct in excess of 60 water quality tests each day to ensure Muscatine’s water supply not only meets, but exceeds, state and federal safety regulations. The Iowa DNR noted the results found were typical of communities along the Mississippi River; and, no remediation steps are necessary at this time. Huston concluded,
“We’re happy to have this new data to evaluate as the industry begins learning more about PFAS compounds and we’re especially happy that the results confirm that our water supply continues to be safe and healthy to drink.”

Lastly, the Trustees were presented with MPW’s 2021 Annual Report. The report is an expansion of the Year-End Review customer newsletter distributed to customers in January. It provides information about MPW’s 2021 projects, initiatives and metrics. To publish closer to yearend, the Annual Report includes an unaudited financial summary. Once reviewed, audited financial results will be posted on MPW’s website for public access.

In other business, the Board:

  • Approved payment for the January 2022 expenditures and transactions
  • Approved a Revised Project Summary Form for the Fair Acres Water Main Replacement Project
  • Approved a Project Summary Form for a Video Streaming Service Delivery Project, and
  • Approved annual submittal of the MPW Reliability Plan to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB)