At Tuesday night’s Board of Water, Electric and Communications Trustees meeting, the Board approved the Utility’s 2024 Operating Budget and the associated budget summary for MPW. Several ongoing projects are reflected in the budget, including MPW’s Powering the Future initiative, expansion of the communication services footprint and community improvement projects to be completed in conjunction with the City of Muscatine.

“A period of progress is underway in Muscatine,” shared Gage Huston, MPW’s general manager. Investments in utility infrastructure will secure Muscatine’s future growth and prosperity. These types of capital investments create an atmosphere that will attract business and industry while providing world-class utility services to residents for decades to come.”

Highlights from the approved budget include the overhaul of the Grandview Substation, continuing investment in the Utility’s 10G fiber communications network, and support for the City’s West Hill Sewer Separation Project.

Huston continued, “The 2024 budget supports MPW’s ongoing strategic plan to provide reliable and affordable utility services. We are seeing continued progress on major infrastructure investments throughout the community, advancements in technology and processes that will provide a better customer experience, broader access to high-speed fiber internet services, and progress on our Powering the Future initiative, which will significantly reduce Muscatine’s carbon footprint. I am excited to be a part of this utility during such a challenging and exciting time.”

Utility senior leadership provided an update to the Trustees about the recently completed and ongoing TV network retransmission negotiations. Although initial proposals from programmers have been extremely high, counterproposals resulted in some concessions from the original proposals. However, overall cost increases still came in higher than the inflation rate and will be reflected in the 2024 video price adjustments.

Final agreement has been reached for CBS, ABC and Fox with the remaining contract expiring December 31, 2023. “We’re hopeful the remaining contract can be negotiated without any interruption to our customers. We continue to offer a robust channel lineup and keep highly watched networks in our lineup,” summarized Huston.

October financial were presented to the Trustees by Mark Roberts, director of finance and administrative services. Roberts stated, “MPW’s net loss for the month was $2.1m, with a 3½-week planned maintenance outage of the Unit 9 power plant resulting in more electric energy market purchases and meter-route restructuring pushing some revenues to later months.” Roberts went on to note, “The route restructuring improves efficiencies and makes month-end data available sooner but does have some largely temporary financial impacts.” Huston continued, “We appreciate our customers’ flexibility as some customers may receive a one-time bill for a longer period and will also see revised due dates going forward.”

As part of the Utility’s proposed power portfolio transition, analysis continues in determining the right size and configuration of a combined heat and power (CHP) unit. Trustees and MPW senior leadership went into a closed session to discuss CHP design findings and recommendations.

In other business, the Trustees:

  • Ratified Contract Change Order No. 1 and Final Acceptance for the Unit 9 Flue Gas Desulfurization Lower Roof Overlay Project and Miscellaneous Units 7, 8 and 8A Roof Section Repairs.
  • Approved MPW Standard Specifications for Water Distribution System Improvements.
  • Appointed Trustee Kevin Fields to the MAGIC Governing Board.