At their monthly meeting, the Board of Water, Electric, and Communications Trustees learned of Muscatine Power and Water’s (MPW) ongoing efforts to educate the community about residential solar. In recent months, solar developers have been advertising residential solar installation in the area. Unfortunately, some salespersons are not familiar with the Utility’s service rules and are passing along inaccurate information.

“MPW supports renewable energy, and we encourage our customers to take an active role in reducing their carbon footprint. It is important customers understand how residential solar will interact with Utility infrastructure and know how much energy they can truly expect from a solar installation,” shared General Manager Gage Huston. “We have had customers call in, after a contract for a solar installation was signed, and be shocked to realize they will still need to rely on MPW’s electric service based on what the salesperson told them.”

Education outreach efforts on the subject have included the most recent edition of the customer newsletter, MPW News, and a How-to-Crew video giving topics of consideration when thinking about installing solar. Additionally, plans are underway to host a community forum so interested residents can ask questions to Utility experts.

Area residents interested in a solar installation at their home are encouraged visit MPW’s website or call Paul Burback, MPW’s energy services advisor.

“MPW will assist customers interested in installing solar at their homes so there are no surprises,” said Ryan Streck, Director of Utility Service Delivery. “Our goal is to make the process as smooth as possible for our customers.”

Utility leadership provided the Trustees an update on plans for the next customer appreciation day. The free, family-friendly event has been scheduled for Saturday, June 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will include tours, hands-on activities for all ages and educational information.

“We are excited to offer the community an opportunity to learn about their local utility,” shared Erika Cox, Director, Customer & Technology Experience. “Our staff is working on interactive activities to showcase how utility services are delivered and MPW’s transformative plan to fundamentally change how power is generated. Getting to interact with our large bucket trucks and dozers are always a customer favorite for both adults and children. We have new hands-on activities planned for this year, and we think they’re going to be great fun for our guests.”

An overall revenue adjustment of 5.8% for MPW’s Fiber TV rates was approved by the Trustees effective May 1, 2022. The rate adjustment only offsets most of the programming costs the Utility pays for content.

“We recognize the recommended price adjustment impacts our customers,” shared Huston.
“Even with the rate adjustment, the cost for MPW’s Fiber TV services is in line with comparable packages offered by satellite and regional cable companies – we’re all facing increased programming costs to deliver content to customers.”

Price changes driven by programming costs are also impacting popular streaming services. For example, Netflix, Prime, Hulu and Disney+ also passed on rate increases to their customers, with Disney+ the highest at 14.3%.

“We understand families are trying to stretch dollars – MPW is doing the same. We will continue to be diligent in our efforts to keep costs as low as possible while providing quality service for the community,” concluded Huston.

Mark Roberts, Director of Finance & Administrative Services, summarized the February financial results for the Trustees. MPW net income of $264k was $138k better than what was budgeted for the month. All three utilities had positive net income with only the Water Utility performing worse than expected. For the first two months of 2022, net income was $494k, which was 14% better than budget. Roberts emphasized, “our reflection of MPW’s bottom line is most often as ‘net income’ or ‘net loss’; however, it is important to remember that as a municipal utility income or loss, or the ‘change in net position,’ the cash impact of that income or loss flows back to customers as it affects future rate changes.”

In other action, the Board:

  • Ratified and approved February expenditures and transactions totaling $9,409,196.18;
  • Authorized the General Manager to enter into a contract through December 31, 2028 with BNSF Railway for coal transportation;
  • Approved the recommendation requesting the Mayor and Muscatine City Council designate May 1-7, 2022 as Drinking Water Week.