MEUW Weekly :: June 30, 2020

Member call with PSC staff to be held next week: MEUW will host a special question-and-answer teleconference for all members on Tuesday, July 7, at 10:00 a.m. The purpose of the call is to get answers and information directly from staff at the Public Service Commission (PSC) about regulatory rules being reinstated after they were temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Call-in details and other logistics have been provided directly to contacts at each utility. If needed, please contact MEUW Member Services Specialist Mallory Conradt at (608) 469-6009 for the information.

Utilities may begin disconnecting electric service for nonpayment (with required customer notification) as of July 25. The PSC staff will provide instructions about the process utilities should use to file their disconnect plans, which are required to be filed at least five business days prior to implementation. The Commission Order in this docket was issued on June 26. MEUW plans to provide an annotated summary of the final order by July 2.

MEUW Annual Conference canceled due to COVID-19: With the safety of our members, event attendees and staff as our top priority, MEUW’s 2020 Annual Conference has been canceled due to continuing coronavirus concerns. This is the first time since MEUW was founded in 1928 that the annual gathering will not be held.

We plan to hold the 91st Annual Conference May 12-14, 2021, in Manitowoc. Those who have registered and paid for the 2020 event will be contacted directly about refunds.
Two events connected to the Annual Conference will still be held:

  • The golf outing planned for Wednesday, Aug. 19, provides for a safer, outdoor gathering of MEUW members. The event – sponsored in part by the Wisconsin Utility Suppliers Association (WUSA) – will be moved to a golf course located in a more central part of the state. We are currently identifying a suitable venue and will provide complete details as soon as they are finalized. A minimal registration fee will apply.
  • The Board of Directors’ Meeting scheduled for Friday, Aug. 21, will be conducted as a Zoom conference, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Today is deadline for utilities to submit data for 2020 Wage & Benefits Survey:  Only the utilities that provide information for MEUW’s annual Wage & Benefits Survey are eligible to receive a copy of the results, so utilities will want to submit their data before it’s too late. Each utility has received instructions to complete the online survey tool, which is due by 5 p.m. today (June 30). A list of utilities that have responded to this year’s survey is being updated here.

Online sale of arc-rated, high-visibility shirts begins July 15: MEUW is offering for sale a limited quantity of flame-resistant hi-visibility long-sleeved work shirts at a deeply discounted price. These shirts were purchased for the 2020 Watt Hour Meter Workshop and Underground Distribution School that were canceled due to COVID-19.

The Bulwark arc-rated, hi-vis shirt is made in the U.S.A. and regularly sells for $139. Thanks in part to VF Workwear’s sponsorship and support of MEUW, the shirt is for sale to MEUW members for just $40! Limited quantities of sizes large, XL and XXL will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

In anticipation of high demand at the discounted price, the shirts will go on sale exclusively online at on Wednesday, July 15, at 9 a.m., until all sizes are sold out. Each shirt is embroidered with the MEUW logo and either “Watt Hour” or “Underground School.” All orders must be purchased by credit card through the MEUW Website (no phone calls or checks accepted).     

MEUW supports APPA effort to provide federal COVID-relief funding to public power utilities: The American Public Power Association (APPA) recently appealed to its members nationwide to contact federal legislators about direct pandemic-related aid for public power utilities. Until now, federal laws have provided only limited aid to help public power, such as funding increases for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Coronavirus Relief Funds to state and local governments as well as assistance in paying unemployment benefits for laid off workers.

With new estimates that the nation’s public power utilities could lose up to $5 billion in revenue due to pandemic-related declines in load and customer arrearages, APPA sought Congressional action to consider a forgivable loan program to support public power utilities as part of the final COVID-related bill of the year. MEUW Executive Director Tim Heinrich sent a letter to members of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation urging their support for the loan program. The letter can be found here.  

Remember to check out the Mutual Aid Resource Guide: Based on member feedback, MEUW has developed a new “one-stop” guidebook to help members prepare for and manage a mutual aid event in their community. The Mutual Aid Community Resource Guide is available exclusively to MEUW members and can be accessed here (member login is required).

The Resource Guide was developed based on lessons learned and member input following the large mutual-aid response in Wisconsin Rapids in July 2019. It includes various tools necessary for a well-coordinated mutual aid response, including defined roles and responsibilities, key contact lists, and pre-planning details for critical facilities, lodging and meals. The guidebook is a Microsoft Excel document with multiple tabs, which allows for everything to be kept in a single location and makes it easy to update. The first page of the Resource Guide has a comprehensive Table of Contents that is linked to each form for quick access, and each tab is formatted for simplified printing.

If you have questions about MEUW’s Mutual Aid program or the new resource guide, please contact Manager of Safety Services Mike Czuprynko at (608) 478-2530.

The Executive Committee of MEUW’s Board of Directors held its regular every-other-month meeting via a Zoom conference on June 25. Notes from the discussions are here.

Registration continues for three upcoming workshops: Despite the fact that many of MEUW’s in-person training seminars were canceled due to coronavirus, three workshops planned for August and September are still on. We expect to be able to conduct the workshops as scheduled because much of the actual training takes place outdoors and the number of attendees has been limited to encourage physical distancing.

Considering everyone is eager to return to “business as usual,” we are waiving any cancellation fees associated with the workshops to enable everyone to sign up now and secure a risk-free registration. To learn more, click on the date(s) to link to the registration page for each of these upcoming sessions:

  • Facility Locating Workshop: Aug. 11, Chippewa Falls
  • Competent Person/Excavation Workshop: Aug. 24, Waupun Utilities
  • NESC Code Seminar: Sept. 14-15, Oconomowoc Utilities

Please enjoy a safe and happy 4th of July holiday!