History

1938 Electric Line Crew
Muscatine Municipal Power Plant Electric Line Department - March 7, 1938.

Muscatine Power and Water has a long tradition of providing excellent service to the community of Muscatine. The municipal Electric, Water, and Communications utilities are three separate enterprises, owned by the City of Muscatine and operated on a not-for-profit basis for community benefit. Each of the utilities was the brainchild of the citizens of Muscatine, who voted to create the utilities because the services that they were being provided were not meeting their needs.

MP&W's modern water testing lab.
MP&W's downtown offices - June, 1971.

Long ago the people of Muscatine realized that a municipal utility has many distinct characteristics that benefit the community it serves. One of the most important benefits is local control. Today complete control and management of each Utility is vested in an independent five-member Board of Water, Electric, and Communications Trustees appointed by the Mayor and ratified by the City Council. With a board made up of local representation, customers can be assured of decision making that takes into consideration local needs.

Through the vision of our forefathers, the citizens of Muscatine have a significant community asset with a proud history. Below, we have provided you with a brief account of each of the Utilities to enable you to become more acquainted with Muscatine Power and Water.

Water Utility

1908 Metering Shop
1922 Water Metering Shop.

The Water Utility was established when a private company, Muscatine Water Works, was providing Muscatine with unsafe water, straight from the Mississippi River, through an intake located at the foot of Pine Street. City Council members and community leaders were dissatisfied with the situation and worked to establish a safe, potable water supply for the city.

The water system became municipal on June 4, 1900, when the city accepted an offer from the private company to purchase its entire plant and properties for the sum of $100,000. The Council’s action was ratified by the voters in a special election held on July 10. The purchase and transfer of properties were completed in December of that same year.

MP&W's modern water testing lab.
A part of MP&W's modern water testing lab.

Originally, control of the Water Utility was vested in a three-member Board appointed by the District Court of the County. Later in the year an act of the legislature transferred the power of appointment from the District Court to the Mayor.

Recognizing that high-quality water was needed to safeguard the health of the community, the Board of Trustees decided to use groundwater that originates from the Muscatine Island Aquifer. They issued $60,000 of Second Mortgage Bonds to finance the construction of wells, a collecting main, and a new steam-pumping plant to get the water to the City. This project was completed in 1904. Muscatine Island continues to provide all the water requirements of our citizens and industries. Modern treatment methods further ensure that our water is of high quality.

Electric Utility

Unit 9 Turbine Internals
1906 Electric Power House Engine.

Established in 1922, Muscatine Electric Light Company was formed in response to local concerns about poor service from privately held electric companies. The City of Muscatine approved the issuance of $350,000 of bonds to construct a new plant. In 1923, a contract in the amount of $375,000 was awarded for construction of the new electric plant and distribution system and for electrification of the water works plant. This work was accepted as complete in June 1924, and on June 5 the first application for electric service was made by Mayor Joseph B. Miller who was assigned meter number one.

In 1924, the Municipal Electric Utility placed in service two 750-kW generators. The community’s demand for electricity grew quickly and by 1926, the Utility was marginally meeting demand. The Municipal Electric Board submitted a bond issue for the construction of Unit 3. In 1927, 1.5 megawatts of additional generation was placed in service, doubling generating capacity.

By the late 1920s, it was obvious that existing generation was not going to be enough. Again, plans were made to increase generation. By 1930, a fourth unit was placed in service. Unit 4 was much larger, rated at 5 megawatts. This additional generation was a good investment because the demand for electricity continued to grow even through the Great Depression.

To stay ahead of an ever-increasing demand for electricity, the Board gained approval to build another unit. Construction began in 1939 on Unit 5, a 7.8-megawatt facility, again almost doubling the Utility’s total generation. By 1942, Unit 1 was retired from service.

Unit 9 Turbine Internals
Unit 9 Generator Internals.

After World War II, the post-war boom caused local industry and the community to grow. In 1948, 13.3-megawatt Unit 6 was added. Ten years later, the community’s requirement for electricity was taxing the Utility’s ability to keep up with demand. Unit 7 at 23.3 megawatts was placed into service in 1958. By this time, Unit 2 was retired.

The industrial boom of the 1950s and 1960s, resulted in the need for more generation. In 1969, Unit 8 entered service, supplying the City with an additional 80 megawatts of energy. By 1973, Units 3 and 4 were retired.

To meet the increasing demands for electricity within the community and to replace lost generation due to the retirement of older units, 156-megawatt Unit 9 was built and placed into service in May 1983 and in 1985, Units 5 and 6 were retired.  Unit 8A was constructed and placed into service in 2000, adding an additional 18.75 megawatts. Currently our total nameplate generating capacity is 293.55 megawatts.

In 2004, Muscatine Power and Water began offering customers the opportunity to participate in the development of “green energy” alternatives in Muscatine. GREEN MUSCATINE was initiated to help fund the acquisition and installation of two photovoltaic arrays, more commonly known as solar panels. Together, these panels produce 4,050 kWh of electricity annually, offsetting greenhouse gas emissions by 5.3 tons per year. 

In 2006, we continued our efforts to promote renewable energy by installing a wind turbine. Since it was put in place, the turbine has saved 13,926 pounds of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to the energy to power 223 homes for one day or the pollution an average passenger car emits over 508 days.

In 2011, MP&W was named Small Power Plant of the Year by the Powder River Basin (PRB) coal users’ group. Since that time, MP&W has taken advantage of networking opportunities through PRB to learn, share, and apply best practices to our processes.

In 2014 MP&W received a prestigious award from the APPA which designated our Electric Utility as a Diamond Level Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3). The Diamond designation is the highest level RP3 award a public power utility can achieve; the designation recognizes electric utilities that have demonstrated excellence in Reliability, Safety, System Improvement, and Workforce Development.

Communications Utility

Muscatine Power and Water has a tradition of investigating and investing in forward-thinking projects. In 1996, a community taskforce headed by the Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and the Muscatine Development Corporation completed a study indicating that Muscatine residents were unhappy with Muscatine’s current communications providers. This taskforce presented their findings to our Board and asked Muscatine Power and Water to consider becoming a Communications Utility. Muscatine Power and Water then completed a feasibility study and developed a business plan that indicated creating the Utility was feasible and a good business decision. The public passed a referendum in July 1997 with 94 percent approval allowing MP&W to proceed with the Utility. MachLink Internet and MPW Cable were launched in 1999.

In 2002, the Board of Trustees ratified an asset purchase agreement allowing MP&W to purchase the system owned by Mediacom Communications, allowing MP&W to gain 3,900 new communications customers when the agreement closed in 2003.

Muscatine Power and Water changed the way customers access the Internet in Muscatine. A hybrid fiber coax (HFC) system serves as the backbone for our state-of-the-art Communications Utility. This HFC system includes fiber optic loops and coaxial cable connections to individual homes and businesses. MachLink cable modem internet service offers super-fast, dedicated Internet access through the same coaxial cable that provides MPW DigitalTV service.

In 2003, high-speed Internet was introduced and two wireless transmitters were added to the MachLink network to increase the range and quality of wireless Internet access service. Video on Demand services started up in 2003. In 2005, MPW Cable added high-definition television service to its lineup.

In 2008, an all-digital conversion of the CATV system began. The project benefits customers by providing bandwidth capacity for the addition of HD programming and enhanced Internet speeds. To date, we offer over 90 channels in high definition and continue to add more. We also offer over 300 total channels within several different rate packages, and in 2009 launched a new Hispanic Package for our subscribers. 

In 2014, MP&W announced a plan to provide fiber to the home internet connections in Muscatine. This service will become available in 2017 and will serve gigabit speeds to area residents and businesses.

Before MP&W established the Communications Utility, many business leaders believed Muscatine was under-served in the communications arena.  MP&W continues to meet Muscatine's communications needs today.

Past, Present, Future - Outstanding, Local Customer Service

Muscatine Power and Water has been a backbone of the community, serving our customer/owners with dependable, low-cost electric, water, and communications services. Most of our nearly 300 employees live in Muscatine and take personal pride in the jobs that they do. Many changes have taken place since those early years, but one thing has remained the same – our commitment to providing outstanding, local customer service and our dedication to delivering the most reliable and affordable utility services possible.

MP&W Milestone Dates

1900
-Municipal Water Works founded

1922
-Muscatine Electric Light founded

1929
-Municipal electric and water utilities merge, becoming Muscatine Water and Light

1967
-Company name changes to Muscatine Power and Water

1983
-Generation Unit 9 enters service and adds 156 megawatts to our nameplate capacity.

1997
-Communications Utility founded

1999
-MPW Cable and MachLink launched

2000 
-100-year anniversary of municipal water operations in Muscatine

-Generation Unit 8A enters service and adds 18.76 megawatts to our nameplate capacity.

2002
-Mediacom Communications Corporation’s Muscatine area cable system purchased

2005
-MPW Cable HD (high-definition television) launched with digital video recorder (DVR) capability & MachLink Lite

2007
-Major repairs from February ice storm, June tornado, and August wind storms

2008
-MPW Cable changes its name to MPW DigitalTV

2014
-MP&W announces fiber to the home project scheduled for completion in 2017

2016
-Construction begins on the South Fork Wind Farm, the utilities first major public project for wind energy production.