Violent storms in Upper Peninsula prompt mutual aid response: A fast-moving line of storms packing straight-line winds in excess of 50 miles per hour left thousands without power in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula this past weekend. The storm delivered an inch and a half of rain in less than an hour and knocked out power late on Friday, Sept. 25, leaving behind 15 broken poles and miles of primary and secondary lines down. MEUW helped to coordinate assistance from a total of 18 linemen on crews from Baraga, Crystal Falls, Eagle River, Florence, L’Anse, Negaunee, Norway, and the Ontonagon County REA to restore all customers’ power by 9 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27.
Next week is Public Power Week 2020: We encourage all member utilities to use the annual Public Power Week — to be celebrated Oct. 4 to 10 this year — as a chance to remind your customers that they are part of something special. MEUW has prepared a sample news release you can make available to your local newspaper and radio stations. You can find it here, along with a link to other resources available from APPA.
Utilities are currently permitted to charge late fees: Emergency orders and disconnect moratoriums issued by the Public Service Commission have led to some confusion about whether MEUW members are currently able to assess late fees: The answer is yes. As of July 15, a utility can assess late fees, but only on amounts incurred beginning on July 15 or later. Utilities cannot apply late fees to amounts incurred during the period from March 24, 2020 to July 14, 2020 (when the PSC’s emergency orders related to COVID-19 were in full effect). Further, a utility may elect to waive late fees in a non-discriminatory manner until Dec. 31, 2020, although it is not required to do so. Utilities that plan to waive late fees should file a notification letter on the PSC’s Electronic Records Filing (ERF) system under docket 5-UI-120, and include the date they will resume assessing late fees. Please contact a PSC Consumer Analyst by email with any specific questions.
Registration opens later this week for two upcoming workshops: In order to maximize training during the cold-weather months, MEUW is finalizing plans for two sessions targeting lineworkers and other field personnel. The in-person classes will be conducted to conform with personal-hygiene and social-distancing guidelines associated with COVID-19, including a cap on the number of attendees. Here are the details:
- Ropes and Rigging Safety Training focuses on the fundamentals of overhead rigging and knot-tying and the use of knots, ropes, blocks and tackle in the performance of line work. The one-day session will include classroom and hands-on training and take place at Fennimore Electric Utility on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
- The OSHA 10-Hour class will provide in-depth regulatory training on current OSHA standards for both veteran and new employees. The training conforms to the OSHA requirements and will include a detailed review of safe work practices that apply to electrical safety for those who work on or near energized parts. The two-day training will take place at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Fond du Lac on Dec. 8 and 9.
Registration for each session will open on Oct. 1. Check the “Event Calendar” on MEUW.org for full details.
Tell us what you think! MEUW is currently conducting a member survey to gather feedback about the services and future direction of the association. Responses will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 16. The survey link has been sent directly to key contacts at each of our member utilities.
Anyone associated with one of our member utilities is also invited to complete the survey, which is available here. The survey is an important part of the association’s planning efforts, and the input provided is used to shift priorities and assess progress toward achievement of strategic goals. Please take a minute to give us your feedback.
Sign up now for next Management Training Program session: Session F — the sixth and final program in the 2019-20 series — for MEUW’s Management Training Program is on the importance of providing exceptional customer service and public relations and will be offered in October. The training will take place over two separate three-hour Zoom calls — on Oct. 14 and 28, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. The shift to virtual training creates cost savings MEUW is passing along to members; that means the Session F registration fee has been reduced to $175 per person.
Bob Pecor will lead the online Zoom training 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.
Virtual seminar on Work Order and Asset Management Accounting to be held this fall: MEUW is a offering a three-part, online-only seminar to help member utilities build a stronger and more comprehensive understanding of the components and systems used to accurately account for and report utility plant construction. Participants will gain an understanding of the FERC chart of accounts, the use of construction units in the work order process, and how to develop overhead allocation rates and record the full costs of construction. There will also be a discussion of inventory management issues, the work order closing process, unitizing construction costs and retirement accounting.
A similar day-long training session was offered in November 2014. Several members had requested the training be offered again. Jodi Dobson, CPA, a partner in the Energy and Utilities Group at Baker Tilly, will lead the training and offer insights to help members standardize processes to develop or improve utilities’ work order asset management accounting and job costing systems.
Due to COVID-19, the training will be conducted in three two-hour Zoom sessions — on Oct. 20, Oct. 27, and Nov. 3. The training will be recorded and available for playback if a paid registrant misses any portion. Each session runs from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. The registration fee covers one person (individuals receive unique log-in credentials that cannot be shared). Three or more employees from the same municipality/utility are eligible for discounted group pricing (savings of $75 per person). Full details and registration information is available here.