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was submitted for approval to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. In the summer of 1961 electric service was installed at the airport. By the summer of 1962 another electric load study was completed and a recommendation to add another 3,750 KVA transformer to the substation was approved. The new transformer was placed into service prior to the construction of the new high school in the mid-1960s.
Economic growth included an influx of automobile traffic in the 1960s. With the increase in vehicle traffic, the townships and county took on many road widening projects during the decade. This had a major impact on the Utility because of its large service territory in the rural areas. With so many roads being widened, dozens of miles of the Utility’s electric distribution system had to be moved in order to comply with the new right-of-way setbacks. Hundreds of new poles and approximately 300,000 feet of overhead conductor were installed. Contractors had to be brought in to help the staff keep up with all of the road widening projects.
In January 1964, the wholesale electric bill from Wisconsin Public Service Corporation topped $20,000 for a month for the first time. While economic growth contributed to some of the increase, some concerns about the rising power costs were being raised. In 1965 the average wholesale power cost was $.01267/kWh. In the spring of 1966, several municipally-owned utilities served by WPSC met to discuss the wholesale electric rates. The representatives from this group decided to form a Municipal Wholesale Power group to discuss issues and concerns regarding their power agreements with WPSC.
More power needed
By the summer of 1967, just a few years after the installation of the second substation transformer, the Utility Commission discussed hiring an electrical engineering firm to plan an addition to the substation. A survey of the electric distribution system was completed and recommendations were presented to the Utility Commission in May 1968 and included the purchase of land, construction of a steel tower for switching equipment and two 7,500 KVA transformers. Discussion about constructing a loop around the city also was given consideration. Following project approval, specifications were drawn up to proceed. The first of the new substation transformers was energized in December 1969. The second of the substation transformers was installed and brought on line in 1971 and the loop around New Holstein was completed in 1973.
By May 1971 wholesale power costs were again on the rise and representatives of New Holstein and seven other municipal utilities met with WPSC to discuss the rates being charged. This would begin a decade-long challenge for New Holstein (and other municipal electric utilities) to review many options to try to control wholesale power costs. In February 1972, New Holstein’s wholesale power bill exceeded $50,000/month for the first time.
Major steps were taken at the September 1972 Utility Commission meeting in an attempt to achieve more competitive wholesale electric rates. A letter in response to the WPSC contract proposal was drafted and copies were sent to the U. S. Department of Justice, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, and the Federal Power Commission. The Utility Commission also agreed to contribute $300 toward a study of joint transmission and generation for all municipal electric utilities and electric cooperatives, as noted in a letter from the Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin (MEUW).
From 1972 to 1979, New Holstein’s wholesale power rates were raised three times, all by double digit percentages. Each time a rate increase proposal was received it was challenged at the Federal Power Commission. During this same period, the monthly wholesale bills climbed from $50,000/month to over $150,000/month.
Moving toward public power
Activity regarding bulk power purchases continued into the mid-1970s, and on Oct. 12, 1976, the New Holstein Utility Commission approved to adopt a resolution supporting the passage of legislation for a Municipal Electric Utility Joint Action Statute for Wisconsin. After much lobbying, in the fall of 1977, Assembly Bill 287 (Municipal Electric Joint Action Statute) passed the Wisconsin Legislature. Superintendent Ernest Dyer Sr. was present for the signing of the legislation on Nov. 10, 1977.
At its Jan. 9, 1979 Utility Commission meeting a motion was carried to authorize a meeting with Wisconsin Electric Power Company (WEPCO) officials for the purpose of obtaining a preliminary contract for obtaining wholesale power. On Feb. 13, 1979, following a presentation on the organization and development of WPPI, a motion was carried to have WPPI be authorized to negotiate with WEPCO for the purchase of power for New Holstein.
Almost one year to the day, on Feb. 12, 1980, the Utility Commission moved to recommend to the New Holstein City Council that a resolution be adopted to join WPPI in establishing a Municipal Electric Company. Then, on April 7, 1981, a motion carried from the Utility Commission to recommend to the City Council that New Holstein enter into a five-year contract with WPPI for an all requirements electric service. In the fall of 1981, it was recommended to the New Holstein City Council to adopt Resolution #518 to terminate the power supply contract with WPSC. The final wholesale bill from WPSC was authorized for payment on Dec. 8, 1981 and to pay the first power bill from WPPI.
While much attention in the 1970s concentrated on the wholesale power supply issue, several other important events took place. In March 1976 a devastating ice storm hit Wisconsin. Over 200 trips of reclosers were recorded in the New Holstein service territory and many poles and wires were damaged and needed to be replaced. In the late 1970s, the Utility viewed a demonstration of a new “yellow type of streetlight” (today’s high pressure sodium light) which was to be brighter and more efficient than mercury vapor lights. Soon, the conversion from mercury vapor to the new high pressure sodium streetlighting would take place.
The first half of the 1980s was a fairly quiet time for the electric utility. During this time three new commissioners were appointed following retirements of their predecessors. By the mid-1980s, more customer services programs were being introduced by the utility. In September 1987, the Utility Commission approved entering into a Member Services contract with WPPI. Starting in this decade, concerns with stray voltage had the utility working closely with area farmers to address the issue. To promote energy efficiency, the Utility agreed to join Wisconsin Public Service Corporation in the “Wise Buys” Rebate Program in February 1987. Then, in the spring of 1990, with so many more utilities being installed underground, the Utility joined Digger’s Hotline in an effort to promote the safe excavating near the installation of underground utilities.
New Holstein’s relationship with WPPI continued to grow and on March 8, 1989 the New Holstein Common Council passed Resolution #661 to agree to enter into a 35-year power supply contract with WPPI. With agreements from its other 29 members, WPPI could begin to negotiate ownership rights for electric generation.
In June 1989, Superintendent Ernest Dyer Sr. retired after 36 years of service with the Utility. All but six of those years were in a supervisory capacity. He had the distinction of having the second longest tenured leadership role in the history of New Holstein Utilities. He was also an active leader at MEUA (now MEUW), serving as president from 1969-1970. He also served on WPPI’s Executive Committee from May 1984 to February 1988. Mr. Dyer was selected to the WPPI Hall of Fame in 1990. Ron Greuel was hired to assume the superintendent’s position upon Mr. Dyer’s retirement.
It didn’t take long for Superintendent Greuel to get his feet wet. Plans began to be discussed to make modifications to the substation. The STH 57 reconstruction project through the city of New Holstein included the installation of ornamental streetlights along with some infrastructure changes. Then, within one year of his hiring, Superintendent Greuel was elected to WPPI’s Executive Committee, a post he held for over seven years.
During the 1990s, many other improvements were implemented by Superintendent Greuel that quietly had a positive impact on customer service. These improvements included the installation of a computer network system, electronic mapping of the utility distribution systems, implementing the Automatic Payment Plan, automating the meter reading system, promoting Time-of-Use rates, and extending the office hours.
In January 1997, the Utility Commission agreed to purchase the city’s garage on Randolph Avenue to house its field operations.
In the spring of 1999, the American Public Power Association (APPA) announced that Superintendent Greuel was chosen as one of the recipients of the Larry Hobart Seven Hats Award. This national award is given annually to managers of small public power systems for their excellence in managing their utilities. Like his predecessor, Ernie Dyer Sr., Greuel was selected to the WPPI Hall of Fame in the fall of 1999. On June 30, 1999, Superintendent Greuel retired and was replaced by John Skurupey.
In an effort to modernize its image, in May 2000 the Utility Commission approved the recommendation of General Manager Skurupey to approve the design of a new utility logo. New Holstein Utilities continued its efforts to move into the 21st century when it went online with its Web site on Aug. 31, 2001.
In the spring of 2000, the State of Wisconsin passed legislation requiring all utilities to collect “public benefits” fees from their customers. These fees would be used to support energy efficiency and low-income assistance initiatives for the utility customers. In August 2000, a motion was carried by the Utility Commission to administer the programs locally instead of sending the money collected to the State of Wisconsin to administer the
Turn to BENEFITS/page 7