Powering Strong Communities

Iowa’s Muscatine Power and Water Details Actions to Boost Reliability, Infrastructure

Iowa public power utility Muscatine Power and Water held its regular monthly Board of Trustees meeting on May 28, addressing several important topics that will enhance Muscatine’s utility infrastructure and service reliability, it said on May 30.

During the meeting, the Trustees approved the purchase of a step-up transformer at an
estimated cost of $1.9 million.

The transformer will support the utility’s multi-year Powering the Future project.

Approving the purchase supports the Inflation Reduction Act’s “start of physical work” timeline compliance requirements (end of 2024) and mitigates a supply chain risk
due to long lead-times, it said.

To meet the IRA’s requirements to qualify for federal benefits for combined heat and
power units, a purchase is required prior to May 31. Given the short timeline, the transformer purchase is required even while additional analysis of the overall project is ongoing.

The step-up transformer will increase the voltage produced by a combined heat and
power unit to a level suitable for transmission to the power grid.

“A step-up transformer for the future Unit 10 represents a significant component of the CHP unit that will upgrade MPW’s power generating abilities,” said MPW General Manager Gage Huston. “This investment ensures we can meet the growing
energy demands of our community while maintaining a stable, resilient, and cleaner power supply.”

The Trustees also authorized a $177,000 purchase of a parcel of land
located adjacent to the Isett Street substation.

Improved access to the substation will enhance the overall efficiency of operations and contribute to the long-term reliability of MPW’s electric distribution network.

Huston commented, “This land purchase is a strategic move to ensure the 3,400 customers served from the substation continue to receive reliable service. Purchasing the land not only improves access to the substation, but it will also provide additional storage space, increases the usability of the site, provides opportunity for future expansion, and secures long-term stability by owning the parcel instead of just utilizing an easement.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently issued enforcement alert concerning potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities to drinking water systems was another topic of discussion among the Trustees and MPW’s senior leadership.

The alert is part of a larger effort by numerous federal agencies to reduce infrastructure and cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

Although the alert is not a new regulation or requirement, it is an educational tool and reinforces the EPA’s authority to inspect and require corrective action should a drinking water system fall short of basic cybersecurity standards, the utility noted.

MPW Staff is reviewing the “top action” recommendations from the alert but anticipates
MPW’s systems will be in good shape based on the Utility’s current cybersecurity posture and systems that are already in place, it said.

“As a steward of a vital public resource, it is our responsibility to prioritize cybersecurity,
especially for our electric and water operational systems. Investing in robust cybersecurity measures is not merely a regulatory obligation, but a fundamental component of our mission to provide safe and secure drinking water to our community,” Huston said.

Financial Results

Financial results at the utility were stronger than planned. Electric, Water and Communications utilities changes in net financial position were respectively $860,000, $138,000 and $158,000, which was $1,108,000 better than budget on a combined basis.

Mark Roberts, director of finance and administrative services, shared, “Continued low MISO purchased electricity costs remained below expectations due to low natural gas prices and mild temperatures, bolstering Electric Utility results. These lower energy costs will lessen upcoming Energy Adjustment Clause rates, benefiting customers.”

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