MEUW Weekly :: May 19, 2020

MEUW files reply to PSC data request regarding COVID-19: Staff at the Public Service Commission (PSC) recently requested additional information and data from stakeholders related to the PSC’s action in response to COVID-19. Specifically, the comprehensive data request sought comments about the considerations PSC Commissioners should factor into the “unwinding” of the emergency orders put in place in March.

MEUW responded to the data request in a joint filing with WPPI Energy. The reply noted, “Given the potentially significant impact on the financial health of municipal utilities due to late payment of utility bills, rules and tariff provisions addressing late payments (including the ability to disconnect customers and the application of late payment fees) should be restored no more than 60 days after the period covered by the COVID-19 crisis. If the Commission is inclined to restore rules and tariff provisions addressing late payment fees and disconnections in a phased approach, it should … [do so] by September 1, 2020 to allow municipal utilities to avail themselves of the property tax lien process for unpaid utility charges … and to provide a means to address delinquent accounts prior to the utility shutoff moratorium commencing.”

The response also noted municipal utilities’ ongoing interest in helping customers. “[We] believe the tariff provisions and rules related to disconnection, late fees and DPAs, [and] deposits … should be restored with sufficient time for utilities to work with customers to get their utility bill current well in advance of the November 1 shutoff moratorium. Municipal Utilities are concerned that the longer customers go without paying their utility bill, the more difficult it will be for them to get their account(s) current. Our experience is that the utility’s right to disconnect prompts customers to respond to utility outreach and to make arrangements to pay their bills. This concern is particularly true for customers who have been in arrears since prior to the November 1, 2019 shutoff moratorium, and who could end up with more than 17 months of unpaid bills if disconnections are not allowed this fall.”

The full response is available here. MEUW will continue to monitor the PSC’s action in this docket and provide updates as needed.

Transitions impact MEUW Executive Committee:  Brian Knapp, General Manager of Shawano Municipal Utilities, is now President of MEUW’s Board of Directors, following transitions that occurred at the association’s Annual Business Meeting held May 15 via a Zoom meeting. George Morrissey of Cuba City is now First Vice President. Joe Pickart, Utility Manager for the City of Oconomowoc, has joined the Executive Committee as Second Vice President. John Murphy of Elkhorn is now Immediate Past President. Tim Herlitzka of Waunakee continues as Secretary-Treasurer.

Two individuals – Paul Hermanson (Lake Mills) and Cliff White (Sturgeon Bay) – were recognized at the meeting as each of them leaves MEUW’s Board after many years of service.

Newcomers join MEUW Board: MEUW members in even-numbered districts recently voted to fill seats on the MEUW Board of Directors. Cindy Carter, Senior Manager Business Services for Manitowoc Public Utilities, was elected as the Alternate Director for District 4. Other Directors and Alternate Directors in Districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 were re-elected to new two-year terms. With Joe Pickart’s election to the Executive Committee, Brian Rhodes (Hartford), previously Alternate Director for District 10, is now the Director, and Dale Lythjohan (Cedarburg) was selected to fill the role of Alternate Director. Michelle Kaltenberg, Co-Superintendent of Columbus Water & Light, was approved as Alternate Director of District 7.

In addition, incoming MEUW Board President Brian Knapp appointed two individuals to fill At-Large seats on the Board. Scott Adler, Manager of Jefferson Utilities, and Jill Weiss, Director of Stoughton Utilities, have both accepted a two-year appointment. All of these actions were approved by the Board of Directors at the May 15 meeting.

For a complete list of MEUW’s 2020-21 Board of Directors, click here.

MEUW committee appointments approved:  An association like MEUW benefits from member input and involvement in several committees that support effective operations and member engagement. During the association’s Annual Business Meeting, MEUW’s Board of Directors formally approved the selection of new members to serve on MEUW committees.

Nicolas Kumm (Marshfield) has joined the Legislative and Regulatory Committee; Brian Dellemann (Two Rivers) and Dave Pahl (Kaukauna) are now part of the Safety and Education Committee; the Nominating Committee now includes Paul Hermanson (Lake Mills), George Morrissey (Cuba City) and John Murphy (Elkhorn); and Mike Pedersen (Kaukauna) has joined the Awards Committee.

Sign up now for upcoming Management Training Program:  Understanding how to manage personnel matters is the subject of the next session in MEUW’s Management Training Program – scheduled as an in-person training on Wednesday, June 3, in Marshfield.

The day-long session will explore the fundamentals of managing personnel, including the crucial impact of recruiting and hiring as well as leading practices in employee discipline and performance management. For more information or to register, click here.