History of the Electric Utility
In 1906, the Electric Utility began operations by installing a city street lighting system.
In 1912, the City installed a 225 hp. diesel-generating unit and began furnishing electric light and power for domestic and commercial purposes. In 1913, another 225 hp. diesel unit was added to meet increasing demands. The continuing demand for electricity resulted in the installation of a 600 kW generator in 1930. The total capacity of the plant at this time was 3600 kW.
In 1928, Menasha Utilities Superintendent John H. Kuester and Clerk John Jebwabny, along with three superintendents from Kaukauna, Algoma and Sturgeon Bay founded the Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin which provides for a stronger and unified approach for all Wisconsin municipally-owned utilities.
The first two River Street steam turbines went on line in 1949, and were rated at 4000 kW each. This provided the Utility with additional capacity and for maintenance outages and emergencies. A third unit, with a rated capacity of 7500 kW, was built in 1956, and another unit with a capacity of 13,680 kW was installed in 1963. The total present day capacity of the River Street Power Plant is at 24.3 MW.
In 1966, the Kaukauna and Menasha Electric Utilities began a study for interconnection of the two systems. In 1969, the Melissa Substation was constructed to facilitate the Kaukauna-Menasha interconnection and serve new development in the city. The Utility operated as an isolated system. The interconnection was put into service in 1970. This was the first interconnection between municipally owned systems.
In 1980, Menasha Electric Utility becomes one of the 30 member-owners of Wisconsin Public Power Inc. (WPPI). WPPI has supplied the electric requirements of Menasha since November 1981.
The Operations and Office Complex facility was constructed in 1991. This brought the Distribution, Customer Service and Administrative Offices under one roof.
Menasha Utilities began TEAM training for all its employees with Commission participation to prepare for a more competitive future, and to improve customer service. All employee training was completed in 1995.
Presently, every department is participating in a Quality Assurance Program with overview from a Quality Assurance Focus Team.
The FoxNet Fiber Optic System was completed in 1999. Menasha participants include Menasha Utilities, Menasha Joint School District, and the City of Menasha, along with Winnebago County. The Utility was granted a CLEC in 2000 by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, which permits the Utility to provide telecommunication services.
History of the Water Utility
The first public water system was installed in 1905 from proceeds approved in a general election in 1904 and from taxes, for a total expenditure by the end of 1906.
The system consisted of a brick building housing two 75 horsepower diesel engines driving triplex pumps drawing water from the Fox River and supplying the distribution system of mains, services, and hydrants. A 100,000-gallon storage tank on a brick tower was erected nearby.
Until 1920, the river water was pumped directly into the mains without any treatment. Due to increasing pollution of the river, it was then decided to chlorinate the water to safeguard the public. Additional treatment became necessary due to the public demand for a cleaner supply of water.
In 1927, the Common Council approved the construction of a water purification plant that went into operation in 1928. The State Board of Health annual report indicated it as "the outstanding water purification achievement for the biennial period". An addition to the plant was completed in 1947 that resulted in a modern day water treatment plant.
During 1978, improvements were made consisting of a collector system, piping and a decanter tank to enable clarified water to be recycled through the plant and sludge discharged to the sanitary sewer. A DNR-approved chlorine room was added, as well as modernization of chlorination equipment.
A new reservoir and pump station were completed in 1988 and placed on line. The addition of this facility has greatly enhanced the ability to deal with summer peaks and public fire protection.
In 1991, a chemical building and chemical feeders were constructed for water intake. It houses a chemical feed system.
Water plant improvements in 1995 consisted of installation of Stainless Steel Baffling in the plant clearwell and upgrading the Operation Control Monitor and Logging Computer. One filter was rebuilt as a pilot project using new under drain/media technology. In the 1996 pilot rebuild, four additional filters were upgraded using new technology. The filter upgrades improve water quality and increase capacity by 25%. A new rapid mix flocculation system was also completed. In 1999, the chlorination system was upgraded from liquid chlorine to sodium hypochlorite which will help to improve disinfection and public safety.
Several improvements were made in 2000 by installing baffling in our 3-million gallon clear well, painting the outside of the diesel and oil storage buildings, installing landscaping, widening our loading dock and installing a new roof on the filter room. Baffling is a series of stainless steel curtains that form a labyrinth (maze-like path) for water to flow through. Using this method of less chlorine is required to disinfect the water. Chlorine is kept in contact with the water for a longer period of time, which allows us to meet EPA guidelines.
In 2006, the City of Menasha approved a $12.8M water treatment plant addition designed to meet upcoming Safe Drinking Water Standards. This project was completed in 2008 and has added new water filters, granular activated carbon filtering, and ultraviolet disinfection.