Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Archive for September, 2011

Lake Zumbro Hydro Drawdown Draws Near

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The annual drawdown of Lake Zumbro is scheduled to begin on October 17th. The drawdown is necessary for planned maintenance and shoreline restoration work.  The public should be aware that the drawdown planned for this fall will be substantially greater than normal.  A typical fall drawdown is less than two feet; whereas this year a six foot drawdown will be attempted.  These plans are subject to change depending on rainfall and resulting runoff.  RPU’s drawdown plan is as follows:


·          Monday, October 17th start the gradual drawdown from summer pool elevation 919.7 and continuing releasing water until a target elevation of 913.5 is achieved.  If the weather cooperates, the target elevation could be reached by Sunday, October 30th

·          Maintain the lake level at or about 913.5 from October 30th thru Sunday, November 6th.

·          On Monday, November 7th the lake refilling will begin.  The level would be slowly raised back up to normal winter pool at a rate no more than 0.5 feet per day.  We anticipate a minimum of 10 days will be required to raise the lake level to normal winter pool of 918.5 to minimize the impact on downstream resources.



The drawdown plan is subject to change depending on weather conditions.


During the months of November through March, Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) will attempt to maintain the lake level within the winter pool range.


Real-time lake level information, along with Lake Zumbro hydro updates are available on the RPU web site ( For additional information regarding the Zumbro Hydroelectric Facility please contact Tony Benson at (507) 280-1534.



Tips for lake ice safety:


Be extremely careful during winter activities that involve Lake Zumbro such as ice fishing, snowmobiling or just walking out on the frozen lake.

Watch the weather and river flow conditions.

Ice thickness and condition can vary greatly. Be very cautious.

Look out for ice heaves and exposed logs and snags.

Be cautious in the vicinity of the dam. De-icing equipment has been installed along the upstream face of the dam resulting in open water and/or thin ice.

Do not proceed past the warning signs and buoys.


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.





Environmental Achievement Awards call for nominations

Thursday, September 15th, 2011


ROCHESTER, MN— Olmsted County and Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) are seeking nominations for their annual Environmental Achievement Awards. These awards are given to individuals, organizations, schools, and businesses that have made a significant contribution to environmental quality in Olmsted County. Categories available for nomination include: renewable efforts, conservation, energy, water, agriculture, education, and other.


The awards were developed in 1992 to recognize individuals and groups that are making Olmsted County a more sustainable community through innovative programs and practices that demonstrate environmental leadership.


In 2010, there were nine recipients of an Environmental Achievement Award. The recipients were:


·         Rochester Community & Technical College

To reduce stormwater runoff volumes and pollution from parking areas, RCTC constructed designed and constructed an “Eco-Lot” in their parking lot expansion on the west side of their facilities. The Eco-Lot, which accommodates all of their stormwater on site, features bioswales, rain gardens, infiltration basins, and native landscaping. The lot is also pedestrian friendly and contains signage that educates students and visitors about the need to manage stormwater runoff and the benefits of the various design features utilized in the Eco-Lot.


·         Rochester Regional Science Fair

Under the direction of Roger Larsen and Karen Sabatke, the Regional Science Fair has supported science projects that explore renewable energy, water and energy conservation, pollution prevention, and sustainable resource use. The value of these science projects has been recognized with awards from the Southeast Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Team, Izaak Walton League, and Ricoh Sustainable Development Partner program.


·         Dave Moehnke

Through his volunteer work with Quarry Hill Nature Center, Dave Moehnke has used the monarch butterfly program to help students understand the complexities of ecology. With students, Mr. Moehnke has assisted in monarch larva monitoring research each summer and fall migration studies. Mr. Moehnke has engaged students in real hands-on science, instilling strong science skills and fostering interest in helping researchers as citizen scientists.


·         Rochester Volunteer Tree Inventory Team

Lisa Peterson and Don Morrison spearhead the group of citizens and citizen foresters that assisted the Rochester Parks Department in gathering tree data from both public and private lands. Their work will be used to assess the value and vulnerability of the urban forest as well as to develop forest management strategies.


·         Help Make Rochester A Litter Bit Better

Mark St. Peter and Craig Wentworth were instrumental in organizing the Litter Bit Better program in Rochester. Since its initiation 4 years ago, nearly 12,500 volunteers have collected over 50 tons of litter and recyclables. With the support of Mayor Brede, the Rochester Public Works Department, RNeighbors, and others, the program has continued to be very successful in engaging volunteers in an annual city-wide litter clean-up program.


·         Ruthann Yaeger

Ruthann Yaeger has been a lifelong volunteer in many conservation programs in Olmsted County. Organizations that she is active in include Friends of Oxbow Park, Friends of Chester Woods Park, Zumbro Valley Audubon Society, Minnesota Master Naturalists Program, Prairie Smoke Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts, and the Olmsted County Parks Commission.


·         John Marshall Science Social Services Club

Students at John Marshall undertook a school-wide project to reduce their school’s carbon footprint. This included producing and airing three popular videos, including one on vampire energy. The students also helped secure grant funding to install a cover on the JM pool as a way to conserve energy.


·         Mayo Clinic

In 2010 Mayo clinic installed the largest solar array (462 panels, rated at 145 kW) in Southeastern Minnesota on their Damon Parking garage. On a sunny day, at peak output, the panels provide all the power required for the Damon Ramp (lighting, elevators, heating and cooling of stairwells) and feed excess energy into the electrical grid. In addition to the solar project, three raingardens were constructed to capture and naturally filter water running off of their lawns and parking lots. The attractive and functional raingardens are located in three separate locations on the Mayo Medical Campus providing and each demonstrates for employees and visitors.


·         Mike & Roxanne Schlasner

Mike and Roxanne Schlasner have long been advocates for the preservation and restoration of natural resources in Olmsted County and Southeastern Minnesota. In recent years, they have been active supporters of the protection of the Decorah Edge groundwater recharge areas in Olmsted County and are active volunteers at Oxbow Park and the Weaver Dunes Scientific and Natural Area.

Completed nominations are due by October 21st to either Stephanie Humphrey at or Lori Collins at To access the nomination form, or for more information about the Environmental Achievement Awards visit


The awards will be presented at an evening program on January 26, 2012 at the Rochester Golf & Country Club.



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 45,000 customers. Water customers number more than 34,000. 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.





New Neighborhood Energy Challenge Workshop Just Announced

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

On Monday, October 10, 2011, RPU and Minnesota Energy Resources will host a Neightborhood Energy Challenge Workshop at Gibbs Elementary School. At this FREE workshop you will learn about our full-service energy audit program. This program will provide you with answers to your energy questions and will give you an opportunity to sign up for your own residential energy audit.

Register today!

RPU experiencing technical issues today affecting customer services

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Due to technical issues, we are not able to process payments, transfer services, and access other internal business applications. If you would like to make a payment on your RPU account, please use our IVR pay by phone system by calling 1-855-210-2285 or through our online payment system. Thank you for your patience while we work diligently to address these issues.

RPU Installs Second Electric Vehicle Charging Station

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) announced today the installation of the second public ChargePoint® Networked Charging Station for electric vehicles in Rochester. The location of the second charging station is at RCTC, while the first installed station is in the First St. parking ramp in downtown Rochester.

The ChargePoint® Network Charging Station is open to all drivers of plug-in vehicles from all major manufacturers including the Chevrolet Volt, the Nissan LEAF, and the Ford Focus EV. ChargePoint Network’s unique features include:

  • The ability for drivers to access stations without a subscription via contactless (RFID) credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover)
  • 24/7/365 telephone driver support via a toll free number on all charging stations
  • Smart Grid ready with built in Utility Grade Capable Metering, Time of Use (TOU) pricing and Demand Response (DR) control
  • Multiple Smart Phone applications (iPhone and Blackberry) to find unoccupied stations and navigate to them
  • The lowest operating cost possible due to real-time operational monitoring, alerts, diagnosis, and control of millions of stations

“By installing our second charging station, we want to show support for the technology and encourage the use of electric vehicles,” said Larry Koshire, RPU General Manager.

An additional charging station is scheduled to be installed at the RPU Service Center later this fall.

For more information and to see pictures of the charging station, visit

About Coulomb Technologies, Inc.

Coulomb Technologies is the leader in electric vehicle charging systems and application services, achat levitra generique, with the ChargePoint Network now operating in 14 countries, and Network Operations Centers in the U.S., London, and Hong Kong. Coulomb provides a vehicle-charging infrastructure, with an open system driver network: the ChargePoint Network provides multiple web-based portals for Hosts, Fleet Managers, Drivers, and Utilities, and ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations ranging in capability from 120 Volt to 240 Volt AC charging and up to 500 Volt DC charging. For more information, follow Coulomb on Twitter at To request a charging station in your area, 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 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.