2023 MMUA ‘Tom Bovitz Memorial Scholarship Award’

The Owatonna Public Utilities is accepting scholarship essays and applications for the 2023 MMUA Tom Bovitz Memorial Scholarship.  The essay deemed to best address the subject of “Municipal Utilities:  Good for All of Us” will receive a $500 scholarship from OPU and will be forwarded on to the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association for entry in the Tom Bovitz Memorial Scholarship state-wide contest (details are below).  


  • To give something back to the community
  • To increase awareness of public power.


The MMUA scholarship fund is split into $2,000, $1,500, $1,000 and $500 scholarships, and awarded to essay contest winners who plan to attend a post-secondary educational institution.

Guidelines for Submission:

Because decisions by judges and disqualifications according to the guidelines are final, entrants should read and follow these guidelines closely:

  • Students can submit a 500 to 750 word, typed, double spaced essay reflecting on one or more of the following prompts:
    • What is the benefit of a city maintaining local control of its utilities?
    • How does your hometown provide reliable, sustainable, and affordable utility service?
    • How does your municipal utility make life easier for its customers?
  • Judges will look particularly for originality and the relevance of the theme to the writer and his/her city.
  • High school seniors are eligible.  Those eligible must be, or have as a legal guardian, a customer of an MMUA-member municipal electric or gas utility.
  • All essays should include a cover page, with the writer’s name and address.
  • Deadline for submitting essays to MMUA is April 20, 2023.  Entries shall be submitted to the governing body of the municipal utility.  (The local governing body may appoint a separate individual or group to judge entries.)  The local governing body will send the winning essay to MMUA for entry into the statewide contest.  A committee of MMUA members will select the winners, with an announcement by mid-May.
  • An independent person or body may be designated to select the winner of the local essay.  If there is an independent body selecting the winner and they do not know who wrote each essay, relatives of utility personnel are eligible to enter the contest.

Resource Materials:

Your local utility is the best resource for information and printed materials.  You may also want to visit the MMUA or APPA websites.  


Scholarship money will be payable upon receipt of fee statement copy from an accredited post-secondary educational institution.  The award check will be made payable to the contest winner and the post-secondary institution.  If the contest winner does not attend an accredited post-secondary educational institution within two years, the money will revert to a trust fund and become available to future contest winners.

Due Date:

Completed essays are due to OPU by March 28, 2023 attention:  Tammy Schmoll

Essay Materials

Stay Safe From Utility Scammers

Many electric, water and natural gas customers throughout the country are being targeted by impostor utility scams each day.  Scammers typically use phone, in-person, or online tactics to target customers.  Raising awareness and educating customers about scams is Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) top priority.  UUAS will continue to help spread awareness of the suspicious behaviors and the evolving tactics that scammers use to target customers.  It is important that customers call OPU at 507-451-2480 to check the status of their accounts if they are ever unsure about the authenticity of a caller or the identify of a service worker, or if they suspect any fraudulent activity.

For more information, visit the UUAS’ website.  

Mylar Ballons and Power Lines

If you celebrate with metallic balloons, remember to keep them tethered at all times and dispose of them properly. Proper handling and disposal keeps them from drifting into power lines and causing a power outage.

When a metallic balloon touches a power line or floats into substation equipment, it can cause a surge of electricity that short circuits equipment and can lead to power outages, fires, and possible injuries.

To reduce these types of incidences, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Keep balloons tethered at all times and attached to a weight.
  • Never release a metallic balloon outdoors.
  • When no longer in use, puncture and deflate the balloons before creatively reusing or disposing of them.
  • If a balloon or another toy becomes entangled in an overhead power line, do not attempt to retrieve it. Call OPU for assistance.

Always assume power lines are live, and keep yourself and all other items at least 10 feet away from power lines.  Click on the image in the upper left corner to watch what happens when a metallic balloon contacts a power line.  For other videos, click here.

(Information for this article obtained from safeelectricity.org)