June 25, 2023: McMINNVILLE, OR — Seven McMinnville High School students spent the first part of this year working at McMinnville Water and Light on a project that they are very proud to have created for their community.

The students worked as paid interns at MW&L to custom design a prototype Emergency Response Drinking Water trailer that could be used in any number of emergency situations if residents needed access to potable water.

“The portable water purification system is a trailer that can be deployed to any area that may be unable at any point in time to get clean or potable water,” said student August Wegner. “So this will allow us to take from almost any water source and purify it to get drinking water out to people.”

The student team included five engineering students (Mason Smark, Logan Haisch, Jacob Levanger, Wyatt Kuchta and August Wegner) and two fabrication students (Caden Huber and Nathanael Porter). They started the project by working with MW&L staff using a computer-aided design (CAD) program to design the trailer and determine the equipment that was needed.

MW&L employees mentored and supervised the students. Ryan Sticka, MW&L assistant water superintendent, was the site supervisor and project manager who worked with the students to order parts and supplies for the trailer.

“The kids created a 3D model of what the trailer is actually going to look like, and then once we got all of our supplies in hand, they actually took those supplies and put them in the trailer,” Sticka said. “That’s the same process that we use here at McMinnville Water and Light.”

MWL employees consulted with and supervised the students’ work on installing the equipment. Fabrication students assembled and welded components to the CAD program specifications. Students made sure to securely affix cabinets, shelves and hooks with the assumption that the trailer might have to navigate rough terrain in various types of emergency scenarios. Students also created the design for the trailer, which is wrapped with a water image all the way around the exterior.

The purpose of the trailer is simple but important: A hose extracts water from a lake, river or stream into the water filtration system inside the trailer. One trailer is able to output about 80,000 gallons of drinking water daily.

Haisch was able to apply what he learned at school to this project.

“We had several lessons on water conservation and energy and how it’s produced and it really gave me a broader scope of what Mac Water and Light is really doing for our community,” Haisch said.

Student Wyatt Kuchta, who was the project manager, said he learned a lot about communicating with supervisors and colleagues and collaborating in a workplace.

“It’s allowed me to be more professional, take work more seriously, and I believe that it’s helped me further my professional career and is giving me experience that I couldn’t get in the classroom,” Kuchta said.

Based on the students’ prototype design, MWL plans to build two more Emergency Response Drinking Water trailers.

“I hate to say I hope we get to see it in use because that implies something bad has happened,” Wegner said, “but it would be nice to see if something like that did happen, to actually see it get used.”


June 7, 2023: McMINNVILLE, OR — McMinnville Water and Light has earned safety awards from Northwest Public Power Association and American Public Power Association. The APPA’s Safety Award of Excellence is a first-place award in the category for utilities with 60,000-109,999 worker-hours of annual worker exposure for safe operating practices in 2022. The NWPPA award is a first-place award for incident rate and severity rate for 80,001-160,000 hours of exposure in 2022.

“The safety of our employees is of the highest importance to McMinnville Water and Light,” said General Manager John Dietz. “We are proud to have our employees recognized for the professionalism and quality of work they provide to our company and our customers.”

Across the country, 283 utilities entered the annual APPA’s annual Safety Awards. Entrants were placed in categories according to their number of worker-hours and ranked based on incident-free records and overall state of their safety programs and culture during 2022. The incidence rate is based on the number of work-related reportable injuries or illnesses and the number of worker-hours during 2022, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“Safety needs to be the first thing on every utility employee’s mind as they go about their work," said Jim Boyd, Chair of APPA’s Safety Committee and Electric Operations Safety Manager at Tacoma Power, Tacoma Washington. “The utilities honored by APPA for excellence in this area should be proud of the culture they have instilled in serving their communities.”

APPA is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 2,000 towns and cities nationwide. NWPPA is an international association representing and serving more than 150 customer-owned, locally controlled utilities in the Western United States and Canada.


March 28, 2022: MCMINNVILLE, OR — McMinnville Water & Light has earned a Platinum Level Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) ® designation from the American Public Power Association (APPA) for providing dependable and safe electric service.

The RP3 designation, which lasts for three years, recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement. Designation levels (Diamond, Platinum, & Gold) are achieved based on meeting certain qualifying criteria. Applications are reviewed by an 18-member panel comprised of national utility experts in safety, transmission and distribution, as well as system planning.  MW&L earned a “Gold” level designation in 2019 scoring 87.5 out of 100 total points.  In 2022, MW&L earned the “Platinum” level designation and was awarded 97 out of 100 total points. Criteria include sound business practices and a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity. MW&L joins 274 public power utilities nationwide that hold the RP3 designation.

“I think over the last year or so, we’ve seen the vital importance of running a reliable and safe utility,” says Aaron Haderle, Chair of APPA’s RP3 Review Panel and Manager of Transmission and Distribution Operations at ‎Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida. “The utilities receiving the RP3 designation have proven that they are committed to running a top-notch public power utility by implementing industry best practices.”

“Achieving this designation is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of McMinnville Water & Light staff to provide safe, reliable service to our customers. I’m really proud of our team and the quality service they provide to the community,” said Scott Rosenbalm, Electric Division Director of McMinnville Water & Light.


L to R: Electric Division Director Scott Rosenbalm, General Manager John Dietz, Engineering & Operations Assistant (Electric Division) Jen Hawkins, General Foreman Gene Crowston


McMinnville Water & Light is one of the oldest Utilities in the Pacific Northwest and has been providing reliable water and electric services to our community since 1889. Our Mission is to provide our customers sustainable, high quality services that enhance the vitality of McMinnville. For more information, visit mc-power.com.

The American Public Power Association has offered the RP3 designation for the past 15 years. APPA is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 49 million people in 2,000 towns and cities nationwide. APPA advocates and advises on electricity policy, technology, trends, training, and operations.

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