MEUW Weekly :: Sept. 25, 2018

MEUW Board explores new ideas at long-term strategic planning session: On September 20, MEUW’s Board of Directors gathered in Marshfield for a spirited strategic planning session designed to inspire a new direction and enable MEUW to boldly move toward achieving the goals laid out as a result of the ENERGY Project.

These goals include:

  • Strengthen member engagement
  • Solidify MEUW’s relationship with all stakeholders
  • Maintain high quality programs and retain a talented team of professionals
  • Focus on the future

MEUW Executive Director Tim Heinrich kicked off the planning discussion with a recap of the ENERGY Project findings and a review of how the goals were developed.  He then presented 20 new ideas designed to help further one or more of the association’s long-term goals. Each idea was presented using a vivid scenario designed to prompt the Board to imagine what MEUW could be and do in the future.

The Directors carefully listened to each of the ideas that ran the gamut from large- scale public awareness campaigns to small local networking events. They were then invited to review and consider each of the ideas, which were displayed on signs scattered throughout the conference room. Next each participant was given a supply of green and red dots and instructed to “vote” by placing green dots on the ideas they supported. The red dots were used to “stop” any ideas they did not like.

Board Pic

After the “dot vote,” the group debated and discussed the results.  Ultimately the Board helped prioritize initiatives for MEUW staff and chose to implement a couple of ideas in the near term. The Board’s work was another step toward developing a 10-year Strategic Plan for MEUW.  Additional details about the plan will be shared in the coming months.  If you have specific questions, please reach out to a member of the Board or one of the alternate directors – nearly all of whom were in attendance at last week’s planning session.

No action needed on recent PSC communication: Late last week, many MEUW members received an email from the Public Service Commission.  The PSC issued a request for comments on the economic impact of docket 1-AC-247, which was drafted to bring PSC rules in compliance with 2013 Wisconsin Act 274 and 2015 Wisconsin Act 176.

Acts 274 and 176 outline how municipal utilities should respond when landlords or tenants are delinquent on their utility bills.  The revisions included in the docket are intended to clarify that deferred payment plans (which may or may not be offered by a municipal electric utility) are not subject to PSC approval or disapproval.

MEUW legal counsel has reviewed these minor changes and determined there is no economic impact to Wisconsin’s municipal electric utilities.  There is no action needed to provide comment on docket 1-AC-247 at this time.  It is expected that the PSC will request comments on the substance of the rules at a later time and with another written notice.  We may ask for support to submit a coordinated response at that time.

Public Power Week just around the corner: Once a year, the public power industry takes a week to toot its own horn: Public Power Week 2018 is set for October 7 to 13.

Led by the American Public Power Association (APPA), Public Power Week is a national celebration that recognizes the contributions of community-owned electric utilities and strives to educate customers nationwide about the distinct advantages that public power offers.

Take the opportunity during Public Power Week to remind your customers that local electric utilities provide safe, reliable power at the lowest rates possible. They also involve their communities in decision making and are accountable to local citizens … not distant shareholders.

Over the last several years, MEUW members have publicized Public Power Week in many different ways, from hosting contests and customer open houses to simply submitting news releases or advertisements to local media outlets. APPA has many resources available on its web site to help you find an exciting way to connect with your community during this special week in October.

Contact MEUW Communications Specialist Karen Whitmer if you’d like assistance tailoring a news release, op-ed or advertisement for your community. Also plan to let her know how you celebrated Public Power Week, so we can share your story in a future issue of Live Lines!

New alternate directors join MEUW Board: At its Sept. 20 meeting, the MEUW Board of Directors approved the appointment of two Alternate Directors to fill vacancies on the Board:  Brian Carroll, Operations Manager in Gresham, and Brian Rhodes, Director of Utilities in Hartford, have joined the Board representing Districts 3 and 10, respectively.

The MEUW Board currently has vacancies for Alternate Directors in Districts 1 and 6.  The MEUW District Map can be found here.  Candidates who may be interested are encouraged to contact Board President Paul Hermanson at (920) 648-4026 or by email.

Customer Service and Public Relations training set for Oct. 24:  The next session in MEUW’s Management Training Program (session F) on the importance of providing exceptional customer service and public relations is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Wisconsin Dells.

Bob Pecor will be leading this day-long session to help participants more fully understand the many forces driving customer satisfaction. He is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Supervisory Management Program and conducts workshops and individual consulting through the Small Business Development Centers at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stevens Point, UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison and UW-Green Bay.

MEUW’s Management Training Program provides education for existing managers, mid-level managers and future management prospects. Participants may start at any point in the six-session (A-F) program. MEUW awards certificates to all those who complete the program.

For more information or to register, click here.

Accounting and Customer Service Committee changes:  Nancy Johnson, Office Manager for Algoma Utilities, has been appointed Chair of the A&CS Committee.  The Committee also is welcoming four new members following some recent retirements and transitions.  The following individuals have been appointed to serve:

  • Donna Hammett, Evansville
  • Jeff Kuhn, Wisconsin Rapids
  • Lori Nyhus, Cumberland
  • John Schuh, Oconomowoc

They join Nancy and three other continuing members of the A&CS Committee:

  • Dave Euclide, Sun Prairie
  • Lynda Lalley, Cedarburg
  • Kevin Westhuis, River Falls

The A&CS is responsible for planning and organizing MEUW events of importance for accounting and customer service professionals at member utilities, including the annual Customer Services Roundtables.

The current MEUW Calendar of Events is available on MEUW’s Website.