Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

New General Manager named at Rochester Public Utilities

At a special meeting this morning, the Utility Board of the Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) unanimously appointed Mark Kotschevar as its next general manager, replacing the retiring Larry Koshire.


Kotschevar is a 32-year employee of RPU and is currently the Director of Core Services.  In addition to his present position, he has also served as Manager of Maintenance and Construction, Senior Electrical Engineer, Project Electrical Engineer and Electrical Engineer.  These positions have given him experiences in electric transmission and its distribution, water supply and its distribution, system operations and engineering.


Kotschevar has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Electronics from North Dakota State University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Winona State University.  He is a registered Professional Engineer and a licensed “Class A” Master Electrician in the State of Minnesota.


Jerry Williams, President of the Utility Board, calls Kotschevar a “great fit for the organization, now and moving it forward into the future.”  Williams went on to say that “his experiences with both sides of the business, electricity and water, are emblematic of his work at RPU and critical as we look at the many challenges and opportunities that are part of a changing business.  He has the foresight and determination to continue to make RPU, the largest municipal in the State, a pre-eminent utility that exists to serve the needs of its customers, the citizens of Rochester.”


When told of his selection, Kotschevar said he was “humbled” and pledged to do whatever is necessary to continue RPU’s positive momentum into the future.  “The utility’s core values of safety, integrity, service, stewardship, accountability and skill will continue to guide us, as they have so successfully done in the past.”


After the board vote, an all-staff meeting was held to introduce Kotschevar as the new general manager, effective May 1.


About Rochester Public Utilities


As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 120 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 50,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 38,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include smart grid, water sustainability, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.



Posted: Apr 22, 2014 by Tony B | Comments (0)

Lake Zumbro Spring and Summer Pool

Due to heavy runoff the level of Lake Zumbro is currently above normal summer pool elevation. This condition will persist until river flows in the South and Middle Forks of the Zumbro River fall to less than the hydraulic capacity of the Zumbro Hydroelectric Plant (approximately 800 cubic feet per second). Lake Zumbro will be maintained at normal summer pool (914.5 MSL) throughout the rest of the spring and summer season, to the extent possible. However, the public should be aware that the Zumbro Hydroelectric Plant has extremely limited capacity to pass flood flow, resulting in occasional high water events that exceed normal pool.

Real-time lake level information is available on the RPU web site ( For additional information regarding the Zumbro Dam and Hydroelectric Facility please contact Tony Benson 280-1534 or Todd Osweiler, 280-1589.



Tips for safe boating:


Watch the weather. Be aware of changing water levels and conditions that would expose logs, snags or cause floating debris. Be cautious when boating in the vicinity of the dam. Do not proceed past the warning signs and buoys. Tell someone where you are going, who is with you, and how long you will be away. Avoid standing, and when changing seats, stay low and near the centerline of your boat. Be ready for trouble when a powerboat passes you in a narrow channel. Maintain a safe operating speed. Always wear approved personal flotation devices (PFD).



About Rochester Public Utilities


As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 47,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 36,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.




Posted: Apr 07, 2014 by Tony B | Comments (0)

No Foolin’ – Commerce Recommends an Advanced Home Energy Assessment before Making Major Home Improvements, Upgrades

From the Minnesota Department of Commerce

Before embarking on home energy improvements or remodeling, especially major projects, the Minnesota Department of Commerce strongly recommends having an advanced home energy assessment. An assessment, or energy audit, of how your house is functioning can help you decide what needs fixing or replacing. A follow-up inspection after the work has been completed can help document the energy savings.

An energy assessment will identify some simple low-cost measures you can take, such as weather-stripping doors, and it can help prioritize more expensive but cost-effective measures, like adding insulation and air-sealing or replacing a heating system. Analyzing the operation and interactions of the various components of the home upfront can save in the long run. For instance, consider an energy assessment before replacing major equipment such as a furnace or boiler. Determining and addressing air leakage, insulation, and other issues can help to correctly size a new heating system and ensure that it will work as efficiently as possible.

An advanced energy assessment should include the following:

Contact your gas or electric utility to arrange an advanced energy assessment. More comprehensive assessments are available from private contractors specializing in comprehensive home performance reviews. Advanced energy assessments range in cost from about $100 to several hundred dollars, depending on the level of detail. An energy assessment will be your first step to saving energy and saving money on your utility bills.

For more information on home energy assessments and energy-saving improvements, check out the “Home Envelope” consumer guide on the Division of Energy Resources website.

Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.

Posted: Apr 04, 2014 by Tony B | Comments (0)

Department of Commerce, BBB warn of salespeople pitching energy savings from radiant barriers

The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources and the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota have issued an alert to consumers who are considering the purchase of radiant barriers in their attics. Both Commerce and the BBB have received numerous reports of salespeople pitching the radiant barrier product at free dinners throughout Minnesota.

“We want consumers to know that radiant barriers are not a cost-effective way to reduce heating or cooling loads in Minnesota,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Radiant barriers in attics may be valid for homes in southern states, but they save very little energy in Minnesota homes. They are a dubious energy investment—a bad deal for Minnesota homeowners.”

Radiant barriers consist of a reflective film, usually aluminum, laid over the top of attic insulation in existing homes. They are sold as an energy-saving product, with claims of significant reductions in both heating and cooling costs. However, their potential benefit is primarily in reducing air-conditioning cooling loads in warm or hot climates and in buildings with little or no insulation.

A Radiant Barrier Fact Sheet compiled by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy shows that the benefits of radiant barriers decrease significantly as one travels north. In southern cities like Miami, Fla., or Austin, Texas, radiant barriers could reduce one’s utility bill by as much as $150 per year using average residential electricity prices. But by the time you reach colder climate states such as Minnesota, where air-conditioning loads are considerably less, savings drop to only $10 to $40 a year. If there are no ducts or air handlers in the attic, the savings are much less.

If the price to install the radiant barrier is $2,500 or more and the consumer only saves $25 per year, it would take at least 100 years to pay back the investment. It’s also important to note that radiant barrier products have negligible benefit in reducing heating costs. It is unlikely that most Minnesota consumers would realize any measurable energy savings from radiant barriers in attics.

Buyers beware, know what you’re getting

“We strongly urge all consumers to be cautious, conduct due diligence, and explore other proven means to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient,” said Rothman. “Don’t be misled by ‘deals’ or ‘pilot programs’ available for a limited time only. Get input and bids from at least three contractors, and make sure those contractors are reputable.”

The U.S. Department of Energy and Minnesota Department of Commerce agree that, in Minnesota, implementing air sealing and adding conventional attic insulation would be considerably cheaper and much more effective for saving energy than installing a radiant barrier. In fact, as attic insulation levels increase, the potential benefits from a radiant barrier decrease. Getting a home energy assessment through your gas or electric utility is encouraged as a first step to identifying cost-effective energy improvements. Consumers can contact their utility to arrange an energy audit.

Before purchasing any energy-saving product, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota advise you to:

The BBB also offers the following tips to consider before attending a free luncheon seminar:

For more information on insulation and other energy-efficient measures to improve your home, contact the Division of Energy Resources at 800-657-3710 or 651-539-1886 or visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce - Energy Division site. The website offers home energy guides, including the “Home Envelope” (.pdf) consumer guide that includes information on a wide range of energy efficiency topics (including air sealing and insulation) and choosing a contractor.

Posted: Mar 25, 2014 by Tony B | Comments (0)

National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 9-15

Celebrate National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 9-15, by learning more about the benefits and facts about groundwater sources. RPU provides safe, clean drinking water to the over 37,000 water customers by pumping water up from hundreds of feet below the ground. RPU utilizes 42 wells and numerous water storage facilities to ensure an adequate supply of water for Rochester each and every day.

Below are links to resources on groundwater

Posted: Mar 13, 2014 by Tony B | Comments (0)