Below is a Brief History of Marshfield Utilities
Marshfield Utilities originated in 1904 when the City of Marshfield purchased the generating facilities from Mr. W. H. Upham. A city ordinance had been passed in 1892 authorizing C.E. Gray, Jr. & Co. to operate and maintain the waterworks. The company was given 60 days to comply with the conditions but when he failed to do so, it was then granted to Mr. Upham. In August 1892, he incorporated and named it the Water Works, Electric Light and Power Company. After the City of Marshfield purchased the utility from Upham, W.D. Connor took the City to Circuit Court declaring the sale null and void because the purchase was done without the vote of the people. Connor won but the City fought back and the case went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court declared the purchase valid and the sale was approved.
At the time this utility was purchased, very little electricity was being used and very few homes had appliances, resulting in a low demand for electricity. Most of this was used during the early evening hours when lights constituted the major portion. As the use of electricity grew, the plant itself had to increase in size to keep up with the growth and in 1915, a 500 KW Corliss engine was added to the original plant.
In 1922, the first steam turbine was installed at the plant and two of the smaller units that had been in the original plant were removed from service. In 1926 with the load growing, it was necessary to add a 1,500 KW steam turbine and the last remaining Corliss engine was taken out of service. This was followed in 1935 by the addition of a 2,500 KW steam turbine. The waterworks was also busy during this period. The first well was struck on October 5, 1923 and by the end of 1932, there was a total of six drilled wells.
The first Water and Light Commission was formed in 1934. There were five commissioners representing the utility. Today, there is still a Commission that governs the utility.
A rather slow growth of the utility was noted until approximately 1944 when an upward trend started and a 4,000 KW turbine was added. Consumption increased to over eight million KW hours and the utility was serving 3,327 customers. The growth increase continued and in 1950, it was necessary to add the 6,000 KW turbine giving the plant installed capacity of 14,000 kilowatts. In 1956, a 12,000 KW transformer was added at the McMillan Substation and the first transmission line tie to Marshfield was added. This tie went from this new transformer at McMillan Substation up to Stratford where it tied into a line owned by Wisconsin Public Service. Also, the first step-up transformer was added at Wildwood Substation which stepped our voltage from 4,160 volts to 13,200 volts. These projects brought on the first use of 13,200 volts as a distribution voltage in Marshfield.
By 1965, normal consumption was at 93 million KW hours and the customer base was at 6,292. Another year to note in our history was 1966 when the utility moved their office, warehouse and garage location to 2000 South Central Avenue. Two more wells (#19 & #20) were installed in 1968/69 and a three million gallon reservoir was constructed at the Hume Ave. Pumping Station.
In 1974, a 37,000 KW transformer was added to the Wildwood Substation and a transmission line tie was constructed between Wildwood and McMillan Substation. This was the first tie between Marshfield's generation units and the transmission system. At this time, the 4,000 KW generating unit and the 6,000 KW generating unit were converted to be able to operate on gas or oil instead of coal. In 1978, a 14,000 KW transformer was added to the McMillan Substation and in 1981, the 2,500 KW generating unit at Wildwood was sold. In 1987, the 4,000 KW generating unit was retired from service.
In 1989, a series of changes to upgrade and standardize our substations began. The Wildwood Substation was expanded and a control building was added inside the substation to house the equipment necessary to operate the substation. At this time, approximately 15 miles of new transmission line was constructed from the Wildwood Substation down to the Arpin Substation. This move provided the second outside feed to the Marshfield area. This greatly improved the reliability of the Marshfield system. A transmission capacitor bank and a 28,000 KW transformer were added to the McMillan Substation and some of the load was transferred off of the existing units.The next year, our supervisory control and data acquisition system (SCADA) was installed. This system enables us to monitor all of the electric and water facilities and controls the pumping operations of the Water Department. The SCADA system can detect alarm conditions at the various substations, wells, pumping stations and water treatment plant and calls out to the appropriate individual to notify them of a problem.
In 1991, the 6,000 KW, the 12,500 KW and the 16,000 KW generating units at Wildwood Power Plant were retired from service. This marked the end of local coal fired generation for Marshfield. Small scale coal fired generation was no longer economically feasible for the Marshfield community. Also, in 1991, the Hume Substation was constructed including a 28,000 KW transformer and a new control building to house the related equipment. This substation was fed from the new transmission line going from Wildwood to Arpin. The line is now routed from Wildwood into Hume Substation and back out of Hume to Arpin.
In 1992, the Water Department completed construction of an iron removal filtration facility. The facility's nominal capacity is 3.33 million gallons per day. In the same year, the 500,000 gallon water sphere was unveiled at North Oak and West Doege. In addition, there were two more wells (#21 & #22) installed in the McMillan Wildlife Area.
Because of different substation transformer configurations throughout the Marshfield area, we were unable to transfer load from one station to another without interrupting service to our customers. With the completion of the 1995 Wildwood Substation upgrade, all of the 13,200 volt transformers on the Marshfield system were now of like configuration so that customers could be switched from one transformer to another whenever necessary, without an outage. This is done periodically for equipment maintenance or construction. This was a milestone in the development of the Marshfield electrical distribution system. This also completed the series of projects started in 1989 with this end goal in mind.
In 1996, an unexpected expansion became necessary. Lakehead Pipeline added a significant load south of Marshfield requiring the addition of a 20,000 KW transformer at the Wildwood Substation. This transformer has a distribution voltage of 24,900 volts. This addition marked the first 24,900 volt distribution on the Marshfield system.
In 2002, the South Side Booster Station was reconstructed.
In 2003, the Water Department installed a new well - Well #23. This well replaced two old wells that had become unproductive.
Currently, there are approximately 7000 water customers and 11,500 electric customers. Marshfield Utilities is continuing to grow to keep pace with local development.