Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) recognizes the municipal electric utility employees of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota as the MRES Public Power Champions for October 2020.

Service to the community has long been the mission of the public power electric utility. Municipal electric utilities in the upper Midwest have been providing reliable and affordable electric energy for over one hundred years. But in all those years of service, none have been quite like 2020.

Beginning in March, schools, churches, and many businesses shut their doors and people stayed at home in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. With these closures, downtowns became eerily quiet, electrical demand decreased, and indebtedness increased, leaving municipal utilities to continue “normal operations” in a world that was anything but normal. Municipal utility employees had to navigate how to continue to supply critical services when many employees were working at home, while others such as lineworkers and technicians, were out in the field daily, risking COVID-19 exposure.

Yet, utility employees continued to take care of their customers and community needs. While keeping their employees safe, the utilities also provided exceptional service. Municipal utilities worked with customers by helping them access community bill-pay programs, deferring disconnections for non-payment, waiving late fees, and providing for a “utility roundup” (letting customers round-up their bills with the proceeds paying arrearages for customers who need help).

Employees also made the shift to quarantining when necessary, rotating employees/shifts, wearing masks, and social distancing. And, despite all of these changes behind the scenes, the quality of service remained unchanged. Consumers were unaware of the changes, and their service went on without even a hiccup.

Service to the community has been, and will always be, “normal” for municipal electric utilities. Industrial customers, large and small businesses, and residential customers all count on municipal services – pandemic or not. As we celebrate national Public Power Week October 4-10, we recognize municipal electric employees as Public Power Champions.

For more information, contact Member Services and Communications Vice President Joni Livingston at Missouri River Energy Services, phone: 605-261-3637 or email: joni.livingston@mrenergy.com.

About MRES: MRES is an organization of 61 member municipalities in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Each member owns and operates a municipal electric utility. MRES provides its members with energy and a wide range of energy-related services.