CEO’s Report: 40 years of service

The year 2017 marked a significant anniversary for Heartland – 40 years of supplying customers with energy.

While Heartland will celebrate it’s official 50th anniversary in 2019 – Heartland was established on May 6, 1969 –  I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I feel is even more momentous, the years spent doing what we were meant to do: serve customers.

Heartland, the state’s first and only public power district, began supplying electrical power to 18 municipals across a three-state region in 1977.

Today that number has increased to 26 municipals, in addition to the short-term and unit contingent contract requirements we have with other utilities and organizations.

While a lot has changed since 1977, one thing will never change: our dedication and service to our customers.

We talk a lot about the services we provide, but given this significant milestone, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past 40 years and the partnership we’ve shared with our customers.

We talk a lot about our services because we are proud of the impact they have had on our customers and the strong relationships they have helped forge.

Heartland began providing economic development grants to customers in the early 1990s in an effort to stimulate the economies of its customer communities. We later expanded our economic development program to include growth and hiring incentives as well as our HELP Fund loan program to assist with business expansion. Today we also utilize the Energy ONE incentive to attract large users of electricity to our customer communities.

We are passionate about economic development because the growth of one community is beneficial to all Heartland communities.

In 2011, we also began providing energy efficiency grants to customers to encourage the optimization of electricity use and later incentives to residents and businesses for making energy efficient purchases.

This is a service that has steadily grown over the years as more and more Heartland customers and end-use customers make up-front investments to save energy, and money, in the long run. Our incentives help defray the costs of those investments.

In the early 1990s, Heartland was one of the first companies in South Dakota to begin utilizing the World Wide Web and used it to better facilitate IRP reporting and communication between Heartland and our customers. At the time, Heartland also provided computer training and technical support to our customers.

Today, in a world where the internet has become an essential piece of doing business, Heartland offers a cybersecurity program for customers to ensure valuable data is protected.

Speaking of IRP reporting, the Energy Policy Act of 1992 required Integrated Resource Plans for all WAPA customers. From the start, Heartland has coordinated this process for our customers and files IRPs every five years, along with annual updates. This service prevents customers from having to hire outside consultants to gather all the necessary data and submit the reports and ensures they maintain their valuable WAPA allocations.

The Customer Connections Committee was formed in 2011 to give customers a more active role in Heartland operations. When Heartland was created, subdivisions were formed and board members appointed before Heartland signed any contracts with customers. While our board has always functioned in the best interest of our customers, the CCC allowed for customers to further engage in Heartland operations.

Our customers have also been proactive in their pursuit of more involvement. Seven customer communities have elected to be annexed into the district since our formation, resulting in the creation of two new subdivisions.

Ove the past 40 years Heartland has strived to be an exceptional power provider, but for us that means more than just the reliable delivery of electricity. It also includes open communication, excellent customer service and adding value to the communities we serve.