Marshfield’s Water & Electric Service Explained
Since 1904, when the City of Marshfield purchased Marshfield Utilities, the facility has provided water and electric service to residents of Marshfield. [Note: This article originally appeared on ExploreMarshfield.com.]
“Currently, MU provides water service to just over 8,000 water customers within the city of Marshfield and to over 13,000 electric customers across a 125 square mile area surrounding the City of Marshfield,” said Bob Trussoni, General Manager, adding that they also provide dark fiber service to a few customers.
As a locally-owned public utility, MU can provide its customers with more contact through a local office and a local Commission that oversees the utility. There are also economic benefits to this arrangement.
“All of our employees live near Marshfield providing an economic engine for the community with over $3 Million in local wages,” added Trussoni. “In addition to this, MU provides a dividend and PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) of over $2 Million to the City each year.”
A further example of their commitment to community is MU’s ownership of Hamus Park. The Utility financially supports the park and the work that Floyd Hamus undertakes there.
Comparatively, MU maintains a high level of reliability, with the electric department having received multiple awards based on the operations and reliability of the system.
“We have the RP3 (Reliable Public Power Provided) emblems displayed on our vehicles. We won the highest level (diamond) for system reliability from APPA (American Public Power Association). The water system continues to have high reliability and very good quality water,” said Trussoni. “We have recently passed our EPA lead test which is conducted on a three-year basis to ensure that lead levels in the drinking water are below safe levels.”
Recent projects of MU include the completion of a large water main lining project on Upham street and the painting of the Grant water tower. On the electric side, they are continually rebuilding facilities to keep the system updated and reliable. Future plans include continuing to move more electric facilities underground.
“Any new subdivisions are to be underground and we have recently started converting overhead subdivisions to underground when it is time to rebuild them,” said Trussoni. “This requires us to get easements from the property owners and while there is more work upfront, it should reduce long-term costs in outage restoration and tree trimming.”
On the water side, MU is working with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to generate more cash from rates so they can rebuild more water mains to reduce the number of main breaks.
“This will reduce street damage and repair costs caused by the main breaks,” explained Trussoni.
Citizens interested in the work of Marshfield Utilities are encouraged to consider joining the Utility Commission. This five-member commission is appointed by the Common Council, and each member serves a staggered 5-year term.
“Basically, all higher-level decisions for the Utility are made by the commission,” explained Trussoni. “There is a lot for the commissioners to learn to be able to have input and make good decisions. For this reason, commissioners who decide to stay on the commission for more than one term may provide better value to the utility. This arrangement allows the utility to be operated more like a business than the rest of the city. Decisions are made primarily on a business basis rather than a political one.”
Those interested can get involved by attending the commission meetings, watching select meetings
on Marshfield Community Television, and/or contacting Trussoni or a commissioner with ideas or interest in joining.
“Local control of the utility provides a level of service that does not exist with larger companies. Public power is a tremendous asset to the community. Public power communities normally have lower rates and better service,” said Trussoni. “Our customers can come to our local office and talk with our employees with any concerns that they may have or they may talk to one of our commissioners. We have real live people in our office and answering the phones.”