CEO’s Report: June 2016

We began working on Heartland’s strategic plan nearly one year ago, gathering employee and board input and putting together a general outline of the plan. After working on the plan for several months, we realized it wouldn’t be complete without customer feedback and input. The month of May was spent generating that input.

We began collecting customers’ thoughts at our Annual Meeting, with roundtable discussions about the future of Heartland, customer needs and industry challenges. Next we held a planning session with our board of directors with Brian Bonde of Advanced Certified Fundraising facilitating. Brian also spent time conducting phone interviews with members of our Customer Connections Committee to get candid, anonymous feedback on our programs, services and direction.

The planning session started off with Brian providing an overview of the board’s role in planning and the importance of board vision in governance. We performed a couple exercises visioning for the future where we considered what we want Heartland to look like in 20 years. Overall it was a very productive day with a lot of great discussion and opinions shared on the direction of Heartland. Our next steps include formatting all the data gathered thus far into a workable plan that we hope to roll out at our Summer Conference July 12.

While planning is paramount in any organization, in our industry, there are a lot of unknowns that can make it more difficult to effectively chart out a perfect course. While things may come up along the way causing us to change direction, we want to remain on track to a shared end goal, and that is the purpose of our strategic plan. Environmental regulations top the list of unknowns and right now the Clean Power Plan, currently on stay, is our biggest hurdle to overcome.

On May 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit pushed back oral arguments in a proceeding related to the Clean Power Plan from June until late September and expanded oral argument in the case to include all of the judges on the D.C. Circuit.

The granting of a review by all of the judges on the D.C. Circuit instead of a three-judge panel is very rare, and the fact that the court did so proactively underscores the importance of the case.

In addition to major threats to affordable electricity such as the Clean Power Plan, Heartland continues to monitor other developments that could impact our customers. Heartland provides incentives to both customers and end-use customers to make energy efficiency upgrades. One incentive is for installing geothermal heat pumps. In addition, installing geothermal becomes more affordable with the geothermal tax credit, which expires at the end of the year. I would encourage you to contact your members of Congress today and urge them to extend the tax credit. Geothermal can provide significant energy savings and the tax credit makes the upfront cost more reasonable.

Finally, if you weren’t able to attend our Annual Meeting, three new members were elected to our Customer Connections Committee. We would like to welcome Jerry Jongeling, Sioux Falls, SD; Brad Lawrence, Madison, SD; and Ashley Rentsch, Volga, SD. Jason Niemann of Arlington, SD was re-elected to his position on the committee. Other members include Chair Bill Lewellen, Miller, SD; Vice Chair Anita Lowary, Groton, SD; Kris Manderfeld, New Ulm, MN; Vern Hill, Plankinton, SD; and Michele Farris, State of South Dakota.