The changing circumstances of COVID-19 created both challenges and opportunities for us. In 2020, we were challenged to operate differently and put our business continuity and crisis response plans into action. As a critical service, we modified operations to safeguard the health and safety of the public and our employees without sacrificing the reliability of our power supply. We continued to install new services, maintain electric lines, upgrade and energize new and existing substations and trim trees as normal. Our control center was staffed 24/7 year-round and we continued to respond to outages and coordinate system operations.
We are proud of our community involvement each year, but due to COVID-19, we decided to redirect our efforts and donations to organizations hardest hit by the pandemic. We helped schools with funds for protective equipment and sanitation, and donated to the local YMCAs that provided a temporary daycare for children whose school or daycare centers were closed.
Moving forward, our member service representatives continue to connect members with energy assistance dollars through the CAP agency, 360 Communities and other agencies in Dakota County, and we support food shelves and workforce agencies in our community.
Concern for the Environment
Your commitment to the environment and energy conservation saved 23.5 million kilowatt-hours in 2020. Additionally, by participating in off-peak programs, members helped save $17 million in wholesale power costs — a win-win for everyone.
Dakota Electric’s three solar sites in Dakota County continue to run efficiently. These solar sites connect to our distribution system and the energy remains in our service territory for the benefit of our members. The 22,000 solar panels generated over 10.1 million kWh during 2020.
We continue to support the increased use of electric vehicles by adding a public electric-vehicle charging station at our headquarters that is capable of charging up to four vehicles at a time. We also added two new EVs to our fleet and regularly explore the various makes, models and sizes that are coming to the market soon.
Foundations for the Future
As our board and staff prepare for the future, we strategically implement systems to serve members for years to come. Our advanced meter replacement project successfully moved forward in 2020, with over half of our 120,000 meters installed. The new system is already showing improvements in safety, reliability and efficiency as we continue to manage our electrical system and provide enhanced services to our members. We plan to complete the meter installations by the end of this year.
On behalf of the board and the employees of Dakota Electric Association, thank you for the privilege of serving you.