2016 a record year for energy efficiency

Commercial lighting and street light LED upgrades popular among customers

Last year proved to be a banner year in terms of energy efficiency upgrades in Heartland customer communities.

Rebates

Heartland issued over $50,000 in rebates throughout the year to help residents and businesses make energy efficiency upgrades, the most issued since the program’s inception in 2012.

Commercial lighting upgrades continue to be the most popular among all our customers with 2,053 light fixtures upgraded in 2016.

Residents also continued to install LED lighting in their homes with Heartland providing rebates for 231 bulbs throughout the year.

Water heating, which accounts for a large portion of home energy use, was also popular, with 46 lifetime warranty electric water heaters installed.

Seven ENERGY STAR certified air conditioners were installed with help from Heartland’s rebates and 50 ENERGY STAR appliances including freezers, refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and dehumidifiers.

Grants

Our energy efficiency grant program continued to be popular in 2016 with 13 customers applying for and receiving funding.

Street lighting was again the most popular project with 506 street lights upgraded to LED. Funding was also awarded for fire hall, city hall and community court lighting.

Heartland customers will see annual savings of over $40,000 from the projects implemented with help from our grants.

New for 2017

We will continue to offer energy efficiency funding in 2017 with two changes.

Rebates for upgrading appliances will no longer be offered and rebates for water heaters are increasing.

Applicants will now receive $200 for purchasing a 50 to 79 gallon lifetime warranty electric water heater and $400 for purchasing a heater 80 gallons or larger.

For more details on the Power Forward energy efficiency programs, visit www.youcanpowerforward.com.

Changes to Power Forward rebates announced; Input sought on potential new service

Heartland makes announcements regarding customer service programs

Over the course of three days, Heartland staff traveled nearly 600 miles to three customer communities to make presentations on the 2017 budget. In addition, we outlined changes to our energy efficiency programs and asked for customer input on a potential new service.

Power Forward rebates revamped

WebHeartland is making two changes to the Power Forward energy efficiency rebates for 2017. The appliance rebates, including those for clothes washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers and dehumidifiers, will no longer be offered. Heartland is also doubling the rebate amounts offered for purchasing lifetime warranty, electric water heaters. A rebate of $200 will be given for 50 to 79 gallon water heaters and a rebate of $400 for heaters 80 gallons and above.

Since implementing the Power Forward rebate program in 2012, Heartland has awarded rebates for nearly 350 Energy Star qualified appliances. However the number of appliance rebates awarded has steadily declined each year.

“The appliance rebates are seen as a low-hanging fruit and after five years, we’ve decided to invest more of our resources into the ‘harder to reach’ items such as water heaters,” noted Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland. “Electric water heaters with a lifetime warranty provide a lifetime load to the utility, are easily controlled with load management systems and provide savings to the consumer. They benefit everyone involved.”

Heartland has awarded 64 rebates for water heaters since 2015 and hopes to increase that number significantly with the higher rebate amounts.

Mobile line crew considered

Heartland also outlined a potential new service at the budget meetings and asked customers to fill out a survey regarding their interest. Heartland has received inquiries in the past about forming a mobile linemen crew to serve customer communities. After bringing the idea to the Customer Connections Committee and receiving their support to move forward with pursuing the idea, the logical next step was to conduct a survey to find out how many customers would utilize such a service.

Each customer interested was asked what services they would see a mobile crew performing, how far they’d be comfortable with the crew being located from their city, if they’d be willing to pay their share of expenses and if they would sign a long-term contract.

“This service is something Heartland has talked about for a few years,” added Hyland. “We decided it was time to first determine if there is enough interest in the program and if so, determine if it’s feasible and how it would operate. The survey is the first step in the process.”

For anyone who didn’t attend the budget meetings, Heartland staff will bring the survey to you on a customer visit. It is Heartland’s goal to get a completed survey from every customer so we know how many are interested in moving forward. Those interested will be asked to be part of a working group to further explore the feasibility of the idea.

If you have questions about the changes to the energy efficiency program or the mobile linemen crew survey, contact Ann Hyland.

2016 brings changes to Heartland programs

Heartland’s energy efficiency and economic development programs remained popular with customers in 2015 and in order to ensure we continue to offer the best programs possible, we have made a few changes to our offerings for 2016.

The goal of Heartland’s energy efficiency rebate program is to encourage the purchase and use of the most efficient products available to replace older, inefficient products. LED is by far the most efficient lighting technology available, and has become more affordable over the past several years. Therefore, Heartland’s commercial lighting rebates will now only be offered on new LEDs that are replacing older technologies. Upgrades to T8s and T5s will no longer be listed on our applications; however, customized lighting rebates will still be available.

Two new categories have been added to our Energy Star appliance rebate program. Electric clothes dryers only recently became eligible to earn the Energy Star label and Heartland will offer a $50 rebate for residents who make the upgrade. Dehumidifiers with the Energy Star label are also now eligible for a $25 rebate for residential customers.

Residents who upgrade lighting to LED will still be eligible for rebates in the new year, but screw in LED bulbs are now only eligible for a $3 rebate and LED recessed cans or retrofit kits are eligible for $5. All lights must be Energy Star rated and each household may only receive a maximum lighting rebate of $100 per year.

Residents who purchase a lifetime warranty electric water heater may have to take one more step to qualify for Heartland’s rebate in 2016. Marathon water heaters no longer come with a lifetime warranty. Instead, they are purchased with a ten-year warranty, but homeowners can upgrade to a lifetime warranty for free by registering the water heater online within 90 days of installation. Proof of this registration will be required to receive the rebate on a Marathon water heater.

All changes outlined take effect January 1, 2016. All applications have been updated accordingly and are available on our website at hcpd.com/forms-applications/.

Industrial park development will be a new area of focus for Heartland’s economic development program in 2016. For our South Dakota customers, this includes helping them achieve the state’s Certified Ready Site status and assisting with the application process. Our economic development grant funding is available for the necessary upfront legal, engineering, and environmental costs. It is also available to help with infrastructure development in these industrial parks. In order to compete for new or expanding businesses, it’s important for a community to have an industrial park that can easily and quickly accommodate their needs. A Certified Ready Status also increases the community’s exposure with various real estate developers and site selectors on both a state and national level.

Heartland will also be looking to partner with economic development officials in attending various trade shows that will help promote our customer communities. This is also a good opportunity to network with site selectors, developers, and business owners who are looking to expand in our region. We would attend shows focusing on industries that each state is targeting in their own efforts.

Heartland’s existing programs, including our grants, growth incentives and HELP loan, will remain the same in 2016.

New funding and development opportunities available for Heartland customers

At our annual budget meetings in November, Heartland staff announced plans to boost both the energy efficiency and economic development programs in 2015 with the addition of new opportunities for customers. Details are now available regarding new residential and commercial energy efficiency rebates as well as assistance programs for communities in the site selection process.

Energy Efficiency

2014 proved to be another successful year for Heartland’s energy efficiency programs. Seventy-five rebates were issued for upgrading appliances to new Energy Star models, including six freezer rebates, 24 refrigerator rebates, 22 dishwasher rebates and 23 clothes washer rebates. In addition, Heartland incentivized the installation of nine Energy Star rated heat pumps, two air conditioners and one geothermal heat pump. Finally, eighteen businesses replaced 1,106 light fixtures with energy efficient models.

Hoping to expand upon its success with the current programs, Heartland will now be offering additional incentives and rebates.

“Heartland is excited to add to its suite of energy efficiency programs in 2015,” said Heartland Communications Manager Ann Hyland. “In addition to our current incentives, we will also be offering rebates on lifetime warranty electric water heaters, residential LED light bulbs and commercial refrigeration.”

Residents who purchase an electric water heater in 2015 with a lifetime warranty will be eligible for a rebate of $100 on 50 to 79 gallon heaters and $200 for heaters 80 gallons and above.

Additionally, residents who purchase LED light bulbs for their homes may also be eligible for incentives. A rebate of $5 per light bulb will be given for each Energy Star rated light bulb purchased that is 9 watts or higher. Rebates will not exceed $100 per year, per home.

Commercial customers with refrigeration may receive rebates for making energy efficiency improvements. Installing LED refrigerated display case lighting will be eligible for a rebate of $25 per door. Installing anti-sweat heater controls on refrigerated display cases is eligible for a rebate of $25 per door. Replacing a standard shaded-pole evaporator fan motor with an electronically commutated motor is eligible for a rebate of $30 on reach-in coolers and $75 on walk-in coolers. Finally, rebates on new solid or glass door reach-in refrigerators and freezers will be given at $200 per unit.

Applications for the new incentives will be available soon or more information can be obtained by contacting Hyland at (605) 256-6536 or ahyland@hcpd.com.

Economic Development

Certified Ready Site Assistance

Available property is the number one factor site selectors and expanding businesses focus on when narrowing down their search. One key to keeping your community on the selection list is having a Certified Ready Site. Depending upon your community’s desire and goals, different site classifications can be applied for. The classifications are Heavy Industrial, Light Industrial, Business Services/Research & Development, Rural Business Parks, and Technology Parks. The requirements for each classification are focused on the site’s size, highway access, and the availability and capacity for electric service, water supply, sewer, natural gas and telecom. Environmental studies may also be required.

Every state has different requirements to qualify a site as Certified Ready and the process can take some time and financial investment, but it will pay dividends to the community for decades to come. Beginning in 2015, Heartland will be your partner in the process for achieving Certified Ready status by providing guidance in the planning and application process as well as financial support.

Spec Building Assistance

Other than having an available site with infrastructure, another important factor for a community in the site selection process is having an available building. Heartland is also able to provide assistance in this regard by being highly involved in the planning process. Grant funding may also be available for initial expenses.

“Providing new or expanding businesses with a ‘virtual spec building’ is a great tool in recruiting those businesses,” said Heartland Director of Economic Development Ryan Brown. “There will be some initial cost in putting the spec building project together, such as architectural, engineering or legal expenses, but the community or economic development organization will not need to invest in the full financial cost of the project until a business has committed to relocating or expanding in that community.”

The virtual spec building entails a survey with the property placement on the site, a blueprint of the building, and initial cost breakdown for the construction phase. The building plan will most often include a 10,000-30,000 square-foot industrial building with standard specifications.

“We have found this size to be the primary focus for business prospects looking at our communities,” Brown said. “However, the new or expanding business has the opportunity to make any adjustments as necessary to fit their needs.”

A virtual spec building can be the deciding factor for a prospective business to choose your community. Not only does it allow for a smooth transition to the new property, but it also shows your community is prepared to grow and has a desire to move your local economy forward.

For more information regarding Heartland’s Certified Ready Site or Spec Building assistance, contact Brown at (605) 256-6536 or rbrown@hcpd.com.