Gold standard for Jackson's electric utility

Monday, March 3, 2008

Don Schuette, director of electric utilities for the city of Jackson, was so busy during February's ice storm and recovery, he let the mail pile up on his desk.

On Tuesday he opened a letter from the American Public Power Association. It announced his department had won a gold-level Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) award. The award is based on four criteria: reliability, system improvement, safety and training. Jackson's electric utility is one of 2,000 in the nation, and only 48 have earned honors from the APPA, which annually certifies utilities by scoring them on the criteria, awarding the best with certifications for diamond (100 percent), platinum (90 percent) and gold (80 percent). The certification is good for two years.

Five other Missouri communities have earned RP3s. City Utilities of Springfield, Columbia Water & Light Department, Independence Power & Light and Marshall Municipal Utilities have platinum trophies. Chillicothe Municipal Utilities has a gold award, just like Jackson.

"We're tickled to death about it," Schuette said of the honor in a phone interview a few days later. The city hasn't made an official announcement yet, but the story is being passed around town by word of mouth.

Mayor Barbara Lohr is thrilled, too.

"We kind of want to make a big deal of this at a later date," she said. "I knew we deserved it, but because there are so few that achieve it, that's the really exciting part."

Schuette said as happy as he is about the city getting a gold RP3, he's more pleased over compliments from customers about the storm-recovery effort.

"That's what keeps us doing the jobs we're doing," he said. The gold RP3? "There's always a rainbow at the end of a storm."

It could end up being more than just a rainbow. The cost of workers compensation insurance dropped by 25 percent for one award-winning municipal utility in Iowa.

In the city of Cape Girardeau, permits and inspections were temporarily waived for people reconnecting to the power grid. Late Friday, the city announced the exceptions are over, starting today. For details, call the Cape Girardeau Inspection Services Office at 334-4466.

Getting it right: Last week my column erred in reflecting the time and date of John Ashcroft's visit to Cape Girardeau. The former U.S. attorney general, senator and two-term Missouri governor will be Lincoln Day keynote speaker at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Arena Building in Arena Park. The event is sponsored by the Cape Girardeau County Republican Women.

Advance tickets are being sold at Horizon Screen Printing, 430 Broadway, or JCS/TEL-LINK, 1606 N. Kingshighway, both in Cape Girardeau; or Cashbook-Journal in Jackson. To order tickets by mail, send a check to Cape Girardeau County Republican Women's Club, P.O. Box 431, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63702. Advance tickets are $20, couples pay $35. Tickets at the door are $25. For more information and tickets, call Holly Lintner at 200-4073.

Questions, suggestions or tips for Lost on Main Street? E-mail or call 335-6611, extension 127

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