In discussing strategic initiatives and key performance indicators, Hastings Utilities staff members led members of the Hastings Utility Board on a look at utility operations for years to come.

Al Meyer, assistant manager for Hastings Utilities, provided during the board’s regular meeting Thursday an overview of the planned integrated resource plan aimed at determining how best to meet energy needs for HU customers for the next 20 years.

“Twenty years seems kind of funny right now because I think if you get close for the next five years that’s probably going to be your best guess,” he said. “We need to look down the road for a long period of time.”

The last power supply study was completed in July 2001 as part of preparations for Whelan Energy Center No. 2.

Tasks included in the integrated resource plan include collecting data; preparing a load forecast, which is anticipating what customers will need; and then comparing that load versus resources.

The report also will evaluate fuel and market forecasts for factors such as coal and natural gas costs; evaluate existing resources — how do all of the HU units fit into future plans?

The integrated resource plan also will evaluate developing power supply alternatives, assessing non-economic factors, and preparing and presenting a report.

A request for proposals for an integrated resource plan was issued Sept. 4. Four proposals were received with an opening on Sept. 26.

The proposals were evaluated by a committee of representatives from different HU departments such as engineering, energy supply and electric production.

In the end, the proposal from GDS Associates of Marietta, Georgia, was selected despite the fact that the bid from GDS, not to exceed $135,000, was not the lowest.

Bids ranged from $93,100 to $165,000.

The HU committee rated proposals based on firm experience, references, proposal team, proper work scope, project schedule and price.

The committee believed GDS Associates provided very good references for the services provided. The firm’s project team has significant experience with the Southwest Power Pool market, in which Hastings Utilities participates. The report is scheduled to be complete in April 2020.

While the integrated resource plan will look at the future of HU load forecasts and resources, HU staff members provided several other forward-looking reports Thursday looking at key performance indicators and strategic initiatives for customer service, operations and energy supply.

HU is operating efficiently according to key performance indicators.

For billing accuracy, HU is operating at or near the top benchmark set by the American Water Works Association of 1.6 adjustments per 10,000 bills. For the three recent quarters evaluated, HU scored at 1.69, .73 and 1.21 adjustments per 10,000 bills.

By comparison, the AWWA median benchmark is 6.2 and the bottom is 18.4.

Brian Strom, HU manager of customer accounts, said his staff reviews bills for accuracy.

Other customer service key performance indicators measured include the customer delinquency rate, uncollectable accounts, the customer disconnect rate, and service complaints.

Customer service strategic initiatives in progress include a cost of service study, hybrid smart system looking at electric meters, a customer incentive program and employee development.

The cost of service study is anticipated for completion by Feb. 14.

Besides the cost of service studies, ongoing energy supply strategic initiatives include evaluating the HU energy portfolio strategy.

HU is also looking at the second phase of the city solar project, more extensive planning for which would occur once participation in phase one is closer to 100%. It is currently 17%.

Other strategic initiatives include battery storage and development of electrification program for vehicles.

The board also discussed board roles and responsibilities.

San Blas
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