Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

What icicles might be telling you

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

Icicles…beautiful, dangerous, and a sign of an inefficient building.

With February’s snow, just a brief drive around Rochester will reveal some really awe inspiring icicles. As amazing as they are, as the temperatures warm up, they can be dangerous if not deadly. They create falling hazards some icicles reaching weights of bowling balls and others of several concrete blocks. Please be aware of these dangers as your children are playing outside and you are walking around.

An icicle is formed by the melting and refreezing of snow on the roof.  Warm air from the house leaks to the underside of the roof melting the snow.  When the liquid water reaches the eaves and gutters, outside temperatures refreeze the water into ice, creating ice dams and icicles. The ice dams can cause damage to both the inside and outside of your home through the sheer weight and water infiltration as many will find out as we creep into spring.

Not only are they dangerous and damaging, but they are a sign of an inefficient building as well.  All of that heat used to melt the snow is coming from your building. This can be prevented with the right amount of insulation and air sealing. Getting an energy audit and contacting an insulation expert are the best ways to avoid problems in the future.

RPU to host an educational forum on utility rate structures

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) will be hosting an educational forum on utility rate structures on Tuesday, July 24 at the RPU Service Center Community Room starting at 5:30pm. The goal of the forum is to educate customers about utility rate structures that have been used across the industry and the pros and cons associated with each.

Presenting at the forum will be Mike Bull, Director of Policy and External Affairs for Center of Energy and Environment, along with Mark Beauchamp of Utility Financial Solutions. The forum will also provide an opportunity for attendees to ask questions about the presentation and rate structures.

For more information on the educational forum, contact Tony Benson at 507.280.1534 or

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 50,000 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.



Energy Education Opportunities!

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Check out the energy education opportunities available now through RPU! The energy conservation classes and workshops are FREE, but space is limited so register today!

RPU_EnergyEd_FBPost - JanFeb 2016

MMUA Scholarship info now posted!

Monday, January 12th, 2015


The entry form and guidelines for the 2015 MMUA Tom Bovitz Memorial Scholarship are now posted on the RPU website. Deadline for the essay submission is March 27, 2015.


Individuals and Organizations to be recognized for Environmental Achievements in the Community

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) and the Olmsted County Environmental Commission announce the recipients of the 2013 Environmental Achievement Awards. The recipients will be recognized at an awards banquet on January 23 at the Rochester Golf and Country Club. The awards honor individuals, organizations, schools and businesses that have made a significant contribution in 2013 towards environmental quality in any of the following categories: renewable efforts, conservation, energy, water, agriculture, education, and other.


The 2013 recipients are:


Sue Jansen

Sue Jansen leads by example in conserving, reusing, repurposing, and recycling. Her residence is maintained as a working example of living lightly on the earth. Water is conserved through strategically-placed rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable pavers, and water-smart grasses. Mulch provides most of the nutrients for garden and orchard food production, and native plantings are interspersed throughout the property. She is also working to transform her neighborhood association’s 11-acre common space into a native refuge for plants, pollinators, and wildlife.


Sister Joy Barth

Promoting water conservation is a passion for Sister Joy. “Without water there is no life” is a quote Sister Joy lives by. To conserve water and decrease waste and runoff, she and the Sisters of Assisi Heights have planted five acres of prairie grass, constructed permeable paver parking lots, installed rain barrels, and retrofitted water-conserving plumbing fixtures. She regularly speaks in schools and to community groups about the benefits of conserving water and reducing waste.


Bob Mapel

Bob Mapel is a retired teacher who volunteers at Quarry Hill Nature Center and at the Olmsted County Waste-to-Energy Facility. Bob has chosen to continue his work helping people learn about nature and thus connect with it through the many programs he assists with at the Nature Center. He has the ability to draw students and visitors into conversation, sharing his knowledge and passion for the environment, and answering countless questions about the many facets of our natural world.


Kelly Leibold and Anika Hooyer

These two Pine Island High School students have developed a booklet and guided trail map titled “The Pine Trail: An Environmental Discovery of Pine Island”. The booklet highlights three main areas of focus for participants: education, opportunity, and activity. The guided trail map takes travelers around the city to learn about the area’s environmental treasures and resources.

Nate & Sandy Redalen

The Redalens are long time environmentally active owner and operators of a beef cattle farm along the Root River in Pleasant Grove Township. They work with Federal, State, and local agencies on erosion control, rotational grazing, and livestock watering. They have adapted practices to protect steep slopes, shoreline, and water quality of the river, as well as a large spring and other riparian features. They are instrumental in encouraging and cooperating with research on runoff management and other environmental practices.


Mechanical History Round Table

The Mechanical History Round Table members provide the community with an exhibit of how farming was done during the period when there were few chemical inputs in agriculture. The farmland owned by the Olmsted County Historical Society lies within one of the city of Rochester’s Wellhead Protection Areas, and the Round Table members farm the land using practices that help assure ground water protection.


Master Gardeners of Olmsted County

The Master Gardeners provide education on the value of native plants, practices to reduce storm water runoff, proper lawn care, and other topics that help minimize pollutant-laden storm water runoff from reaching our waterways. Gardeners teach classes and workshops on wise lawn-chemical use, planting native plants and rain gardens, and avoiding invasive species.


Kutzky Park Neighborhood Association

Every year on the third Saturday in April and October, this neighborhood association rallies together to clean up their neighborhood including Kutzky Park which runs along Cascade Creek. During each event, neighbors on foot, in waders, and in kayaks focus on cleaning the open green space, the bike path system, and Cascade Creek. On average, they collect 20 to 25 garbage bags full of litter including miscellaneous items such as a shopping cart, sink, and old tires.


People’s Food Co-op

The newly opened People’s Food Co-op integrates many green building features including natural day lighting, high efficiency lighting, conserving water fixtures, and an integrated heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration system. Additionally, construction materials, appliances, and display cases were chosen based on their environmental footprint.



As part of their focus on conservation, IBM’s Rochester facility undertook the “Chilled Water Optimization Project”. The results are an annual reduction in electricity use of 10 million kilowatt-hours, water use of 2.4 million gallons, and carbon dioxide emissions of 22 million pounds.


For more information on energy conservation or the Environmental Achievement Awards visit



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 49,000 customers. Water customers number more than 37,000. 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.