Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Things to note if you are planning to visit the RPU Service Center

We are continuing to recommend that all possible customer interaction with RPU be electronic or over the phone at this time. If you must visit the RPU Service Center, please be aware of our lobby changes and in-person requirements.

The RPU Service Center lobby hours are now Monday-Friday 8am-4p. RPU Customer Relations staff are available on the phone (507.280.1500) Monday-Friday 8a-5p to help customers with their RPU needs.

RPU staff are working safely at the Service Center and from home, depending on their job and remote capabilities. This time has certainly been a test of creative teamwork and how to maximize resources remotely. The great thing is that RPU employees want to embrace new ways to work as a team to ensure that we are meeting and exceeding the expectations of our customers.   

Please pay attention to our social distancing measures in place.
Please note the window signage with safety messaging before entering the RPU Service Center.
The RPU Service Center lobby has been updated to ensure safety for RPU employees and visitors.

Posted: Jul 30, 2020 by Tony B | Comments (0)

RPU Proposed Rate Increase for 2022

On August 31 2021, the RPU Utility Board directed staff to give public notice of the proposed increase to general electric rates and general water rates for 2022 by 2.5% (3.5% for residential electric customers) in the paper of record. 

Changes in the electric rates will result in an average monthly increase of $2.29 for the average residential customer.

Changes in the water rates will result in an increase of $0.57 for the average residential water customer. 

Public comment on the proposed rates will be taken at the September 28, 2021, and October 26, 2021 RPU Board Meetings prior to the Board voting on the proposed budget and rate increase. If approved, the Board will recommend approval by the City Council which is currently scheduled on December 6, 2021.

Please contact Tony Benson at 507-280-1534 or email at tbenson@rpu.org.

See full notification below:

Posted: Sep 01, 2021 by Tony B | Comments (0)

RPU to host virtual public meeting on proposed electric utility substation

ROCHESTER, MN – Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) will be hosting a virtual public meeting on a proposed electric utility substation on Wednesday, September 1 at 5:30pm.

The virtual public meeting will lay out details of the proposed substation along Marion Road SE and will provide an opportunity for community members to ask questions or to voice comments on the proposed project.

The proposed substation will enhance RPU’s ability to provide quality electric power to neighborhoods and businesses in central and southeast Rochester. The area of service will generally span from 11th Avenue southeast to 50th Avenue, and from 4th Street SE to Hwy. 52. Businesses and Mayo facilities in downtown Rochester will also be served from the new substation.

The meeting link and call-in phone number will be made available on the RPU home page on the blue callout banner, as well as on the RPU blog listing.

Click here for link to meeting

Full link display- https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_NjkxN2IzNzQtYjRhOC00OTY3LWJkNTQtYzJiMDM1NjhmOTI3%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%22cb27df39-77b0-4068-b566-20ba44fa9279%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%22bdb3919c-585b-4c09-918f-6b92d8d70937%22%7d

Phone number to meeting- (audio only) 1 347-352-4853 Phone Conference ID: 676 160 928#

Additional communication was sent directly to residents and businesses in the immediate vicinity of the proposed substation location.

For more information, please contact Tony Benson at 507-280-1534 or email at tbenson@rpu.org.

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 56,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 40,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include photovoltaic offerings, wind energy, energy and water efficient equipment, and electric vehicle charging.

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Posted: Aug 25, 2021 by Tony B | Comments (0)

Masks required in City-operated buildings effective August 6, 2021

Effective tomorrow, Friday, August 6, 2021, all City of Rochester teammates and visitors will be required to wear facial coverings in city-operated facilities, regardless of their vaccination status. This requirement is going into effect because Olmsted County is classified as a county with substantial community transmission of COVID-19. Once counties reach that threshold, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Minnesota Department of Health, and Olmsted County Public Health recommend that face coverings be worn in indoor, public settings by all individuals – vaccinated or not.

The requirement to mask in City facilities will be in place until further notice. The City of Rochester will continue to work with community partners as we monitor and adjust our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Rochester highly recommends all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor, public settings in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Vaccines that protect against COVID-19 are widely available through medical providers and pharmacies. Individuals 12 and older can find vaccine availability at https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine/locations/index.jsp. The vaccine is still highly effective against COVID-19 and dramatically reduces hospitalizations and death. However, the Delta variant spreads very easily, and in rare cases, vaccinated people can transmit the virus even if they do not have symptoms.

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Posted: Aug 06, 2021 by Tony B | Comments (0)

RPU to resume non-pay disconnects on August 2, 2021

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) will be resuming non-pay disconnects beginning August 2. Service disconnections were put on hold in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

RPU customers with an outstanding balance will receive a disconnection notice, with a date of disconnect. If you are behind on your RPU bill, and need to make a payment or set up a payment arrangement, contact RPU Customer Care. If no action is taken, the account will be up for disconnect after August 2.

Financial and energy assistance resources can be found on the RPU website at https://www.rpu.org/education-environment/community-resources.php under the Community Resources page or by calling RPU Customer Care at 507-280-1500.

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 56,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 40,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include photovoltaic offerings, wind energy, energy and water efficient equipment, and electric vehicle charging.

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Posted: Jul 13, 2021 by Tony B | Comments (0)

Good planning prevented pandemic problems for public water suppliers in Minnesota

MDH releases annual drinking water report, showing no major issues

Despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, public water utilities in Minnesota continued to provide safe drinking water to millions of Minnesotans over the past year, according to new data from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

The statistical results of the steady work and consistent monitoring by thousands of public water supplies are contained in the 2020 annual drinking water compliance report released by MDH this week. But the real story is the work that has gone on behind the scenes to deliver safe drinking water to large and small communities across Minnesota.

The public water systems in Minnesota adjusted their operations and found ways to provide critical services while keeping health and safety as the highest priority.  

Most systems were ready to deal with the pandemic as a result of contingency plans already in place. Cross-training of employees was one way in which utilities prepared, making sure distribution crews and those at the treatment plant were sufficiently versed on one another’s job to be able to step in in case employees became sick. Many followed a plan based on the “40% Drill,” which MDH promoted more than 10 years ago during the H1N1 influenza outbreak. The drill consists of randomly selecting 40% of utility staff to be listed as “out sick” and conducting a drill on how to maintain operations with the remaining 60% of employees.  Although no utilities sustained such a reduction because of illnesses among their staff, public water systems were prepared for such a scenario.

Early in the pandemic, Kyle Hinrichs, superintendent for the water utility in Mankato, used his experience with the 40% Drill to create a work plan and schedule that would allow them to continue with the daily duties of managing a utility while losing as much as two-thirds of the workforce. Fortunately, the utility escaped the virus and did not lose any employees to illness.  However, Hinrichs said, “I felt confident, especially with previous cross-training we had done, that we could have maintained 24-hour operations even if we had people out sick.”

With proactive planning, Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) was able to prevent disruptions in day-to-day water services. Doug Klamerus, manager of maintenance and construction for RPU water, said they staggered start times to reduce contact between employees and relied on past cross-training to ensure work could continue through water challenges they encountered. “We went to one-person jobs as much as possible, reduced group work, and limited contact with customers and one another,” Klamerus said.

Rick Wahlen, manager of utility operations for the city of Eden Prairie, said their past planning for emergency response and resiliency was helpful, but the pandemic was “something unique in nature.” The city began planning as soon as they were aware of the pandemic, dividing employees into three-person work groups to limit exposure. “That way, if anyone got it, only two other people would be affected.” They were able to get through the pandemic without any instances of COVID among operators in the water treatment plant.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said partnerships were key to ensuring the pandemic did not create problems for the state’s drinking water supply.

“Providing safe drinking water to homes and businesses day in and day out doesn’t just happen on its own, but is the result of hard work and extensive partnerships,” Commissioner Malcolm said. “As a result of these partnerships, even in times like COVID-19, we can still go to the kitchen sink and expect to have plenty of safe water.”

Through floods, tornadoes and other disasters that shut down businesses and other operations, public water systems have consistently maintained a safe supply of water for customers. COVID-19 has been a challenge, but the drinking water profession continued to come through.

“Though the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated changes in how we do our work, the drinking water program at MDH has sustained its work to keep drinking water safe for everyone, everywhere in Minnesota, in partnership with 6,724 public water systems across the state,” said Sandeep Burman, manager of MDH’s section of Drinking Water Protection.

In addition to its normal operations, Drinking Water Protection supported public water systems in dealing with the pandemic in many ways, including:

In 2020, more than 99% of Minnesotans drinking water from a public water system received water that met all federal standards throughout the year. Details of the Minnesota Annual Compliance Report (PDF) for 2020, along with the Annual Report for 2019 (PDF) can be found on the Drinking Water Protection Annual Reports page on the MDH website.

In addition to the report issued by the state, communities across Minnesota are required to issue their Consumer Confidence Reports to their public water supply customers by July 1 each year. Those reports provide details on the results of monitoring for each public water system.

-MDH-

https://www.health.state.mn.us/news/pressrel/2021/water060321.html

Posted: Jun 07, 2021 by Tony B | Comments (0)