2020 Annual Report

This year has been defined by perseverance for LES and the customers we serve. Together, alongside the rest of our community, we have mourned losses, adapted to the unexpected and powered forward through adversity. Powering communities is what we do. Whether it’s your home or business, you depend on us for safe, reliable energy. Despite the challenges, every department at LES helped to maintain operations throughout 2020. Through it all, we have persevered as a community, maintaining the principles that make public power so special.

We are here for you. 
 

 

COVID-19

While 2020 brought about plenty of uncertainty, none was greater than the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it brought to our community. As the country was beginning to shut down, LES began implementing relief-centered business practices in March 2020, including suspending disconnections for nonpayment. The utility also began investing time and resources to help customers in need continue to pay their bills through flexible payment plans and LES’ Energy Assistance Program, administered by the Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties.

To keep staff, Board members and our community safe while maintaining the promises that come with being a public power utility, LES also implemented a number of changes to how we operated:

  • Closed the downtown business lobby for several months, then reopened with safety protocols in place.
  • Supported employees by implementing internal mask policies, social distancing campaigns and pandemic work-from-home policies.
  • Engaged with the community by adapting education and outreach efforts to digital platforms and a remote learning curriculum. This effort included moving LES’ 10th Annual Sustainable Living Festival to a virtual event with live webinars and prerecorded presentations with community partners. 
  • Hosted the LES Administrative Board Meetings virtually.

What didn’t change throughout the pandemic? Our commitment to our community, and providing safe, reliable energy for all.

Meeting with social distancing
LES Operations Center

By the end of 2020, LES’ five-year project on 91st Street and Rokeby Road had completed its second phase of construction with staff move-in slated for 2021.

This LES Operations Center in south Lincoln was constructed based on several major factors, including the current and future growth of the community and LES’ service area, customer response and travel time to support services across the community, and the mitigation of risk involved in housing LES’ entire fleet in a single location at our Walter A. Canney Service Center in north Lincoln.

The LOC was built to green building standards in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection and indoor environmental quality. Other green-building features include:

  • Programmable roller shades on the window front to reduce energy consumption.
  • LED lighting and solar picnic tables outdoors.
  • Electric-vehicle charging stations in the parking lot. 
  • A natural preservation area with native grasses and a pond. 
  • Geothermal heating and cooling.    

With the planned LOC came the transition out of the historic Lincoln Electric Building downtown. As part of this move, renovations began on LES’ Customer Service Center at 2620 Fairfield St. in 2020 and are set to conclude in 2021.

LES Operations Center
LES decarbonization goal

After participating in a yearlong educational series on establishing a new carbon reduction goal, the LES Administrative Board adopted a robust, new decarbonization goal in 2020. During this time, LES solicited public opinion through various digital communications and virtual meetings. Aiming for net-zero carbon emission by 2040, this goal is in line with the City of Lincoln’s Climate Action Plan — a citywide goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

Our renewable footprint has grown over the last 10 years and will continue to do so. The utility’s nameplate resource portfolio — the full capacity of our generation fleet — is diversified with renewable energy accounting for 34% of the power we can generate, natural gas 35% and coal 31%. LES’ current renewable generation resources include:

  • Hydro
  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Landfill gas

Moving forward, LES will continue its ongoing process of technological and financial evaluations to make prudent resource planning decisions for the utility and the customers we serve, doing so with this new target in mind.

Solar panels
2020 virtual offerings

Watch highlighted educational content on a variety of safety and energy-efficiency topics.

2020 highlights

LES received a $120,000 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust which allowed the utility to distribute 28 rebates for the first-time purchase or lease of plug-in vehicles.

LES’ Customer Care department answered 141,261 calls, handled 35,660 requests and served more than 53,776 customers who visited the Lincoln Electric Building lobby.

LES issued the 2020B taxable bond sale of $185.15 million, allowing LES to restructure some of our debt and achieve net-present-value debt service savings of $16.4 million for LES customers. This was the first taxable bond issuance for LES. The savings will help to relieve some budget pressure in coming years. 

A nationwide study revealed LES’ rates average 14th lowest overall among 100 cities surveyed in all 50 states. LES ranked 10th for residential rates and 15th for commercial rates. 

In 2021, LES will not have a systemwide rate increase for the fourth year in a row.

The System Average Interruption Duration Index – the average outage time per customer – excluding major events, was just 21.55 minutes in 2020. LES consistently compares well nationally, reaching the 94th percentile in 2019 when ranked by this metric. LES’ 2019 SAIDI was 13.5 minutes, only 11% of the national average (124.6 minutes).

LES installed 35 miles of underground duct and completed the final year of the LES Duct Installation Project, a nine-year project that installed duct adjacent to 402.5 miles of existing, aging underground cable.

LES earned the American Heart Association’s Gold Level recognition on our Workplace Health Achievement Index, recognizing our staff’s significant steps toward building a culture of health and wellness within the workplace.

LES had a new annual record of 28 residential and commercial net-metering solar projects that accounted for more than 270 kilowatts in newly installed capacity. Nineteen customers enrolled in LES’ Virtual Net Metering Program, resulting in a total of 423 customers enrolled.

More than $1.4 million in Sustainable Energy Program funds were committed to incent approx. 2,000 energy-efficiency projects, cutting the projected peak demand by a net of 4.3 MW and 8,500 MW-hours annually.

More than 350 customers enrolled in the Peak Rewards Program, bringing the total enrollment to nearly 2,000 customers and 2,000 thermostats, representing 2.5 megawatts of controllable load.

LES staff exceeded our United Way campaign goal by 16%, raising a total of $110,797.

Connect with us on