Smith & Weiland surveyors and engineers, Clarksdale.

Home » Daily News Updates » WROX Update: What CPU is doing that’s exceptional WROX Update: What CPU is doing that’s exceptional

Mark Johnson in a CPU control room with some of his staff.

Mark Johnson in a CPU control room.


ClarksdaleNews has had recent interactions with CPU with General Manager Mark Johnson, Chief Financial Officer Steve Reed, and Public Relations Director Chris Campos.  There also has been frequent work done with many of CPU’s managers and crewmen.  Much of this involvement had to do with mounting the Arts & Culture District signs downtown, and more recently in gathering a steady flow of CPU news and updates for the public.

CPU CFO, Steve Reed.

Steve Reed.

CRI Board Member, Chris Campos.

Chris Campos.

First sign prototype of Robert Johnson being hung by Clarkdale Public Utilities (photo by Richard Bolen).

Sign hung by Clarskdale Public Utilities.

Mark Johnson was exceptionally helpful and friendly.  In general discussions with him, it is clear that he is a consummate pro in his industry, that we are lucky to have him, and the CPU Board was spot on to hire him.  There has been less business encounter with Steve Reed, but over much social back and forth it too is clear that one is talking with a pro CFO in every sense of the word (ClarksdaleNews has much work experience to know the difference between a CFO with vision as opposed to one that is obstructive).

There has been significant interaction with CPU PR Director Chris Campos as well.  This includes business with CRI, Inc. and Griot Arts, of which Campos is a Board member of each.  He is tech savvy (which appeals here every time), he delivers work product quickly, he reads what is sent to him, does his homework, and so far he has done what he says he is going to do every time thus far.

The managers and line crew that put up the signs was simply phenomenal.  The crew could change daily, and in every case sign hanging days (there were probably a dozen of them) was a pleasure, characterized by cheerful help that was on time, without complaint.

From Clarksdale Radio Station WROX

This is the final WROX report in their investigative series about Clarksdale Public Utilities.

This week we’ve reviewed some of the problems surrounding CPU, including allegations of nepotism, the involvement of city and utility board members in day-to-day operating decisions and structural problems at the CPU administration building.  Despite these obstacles, Clarksdale Public Utilities continues to move forward with the mission of “building a greater Clarksdale”.

CPU Board with their Power certification certificates.

In January CPU’s board became the first governing board in the nation with all five members certified as graduates of the American Public Power Association’s governance certification program.  The program focuses on strategic planning, legal obligations and financial operations of a public power utility.

PAY your bill online (here).

PAY your bill right now (here).

CPU has made it easy for customers to pay their bills, even at any hour of the day or night payments can be made through the website or at a drive-up kiosk at the office. In late May CPU launched an interactive voice response system which can accept payments over the phone as well as allowing customers to report power outages and access account information 24/7, or be connected to a customer service representative to discuss their bill during business hours.

CPU has converted all of its residential electric meters to AMI, or Automated Meter Infrastructure and is finishing the conversion of commercial customers.  AMI will allow real-time monitoring of electric use by both the utility and customers.  The cost of conversion was approximately $1.5 million which should be amortized in about ten years with savings in several areas including the elimination of human meter readers.

Mark Johnson out in the field.

Mark Johnson out in the field.

In thirteen months as General Manager, Mark Johnson has placed an emphasis on safety for employees and the public while continuing to make customer service a priority.

Through sound fiscal management and long-term power purchase agreements, Clarksdale Public Utilities has been able to invest in infrastructure while holding the line on rates.  Customers have not seen a rate increase in several years; the price that CPU customers pay for electric power is among the lowest in Mississippi and despite challenges, conflict and change the approximately 75 employees of Clarksdale Public Utilities remain committed to the utility’s mission statement of “building a greater Clarksdale”.

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