In a year like no other, we have been focused on providing our community reliable electric service in the safest way possible for our customers and staff. This annual report shares many of our recent accomplishments and highlights several of the people engaged in these efforts. But first, I must address the challenges we faced as a community in 2020.
Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by COVID-19. We’ve witnessed economic and employment disruption in our community and across the nation. LES joined many companies across the country to take precautionary steps to protect our employees and ensure we continue to meet our customers’ electricity needs. We appreciated the Lincoln & Lancaster County Health Department’s ongoing efforts to keep our workforce healthy. We thank the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Environmental Health & Safety Department for securing hand sanitizer when it was in short supply.
LES supported those in our community who were negatively impacted by the pandemic. We provided solutions to customers struggling to pay their electric bills due to the disruption the pandemic caused. These solutions included temporarily suspending disconnections due to non-payment, modifying LES’ Energy Assistance Program qualifications, and developing flexible payment plans. LES employees exceeded our prior year United Way Campaign pledges by 16%, raising a total of $110,797 to aid in advancing the health, education, and financial stability of people in our community.
For 10 years, LES gathered local experts and organizations to celebrate and promote sustainability in our community, engaging residents to learn more about green living at the LES Sustainable Living Festival. In 2020, in response to the uncertainty surrounding public gatherings, that signature summer event went virtual with a full week of free, family-friendly online learning sessions.
After a yearlong educational process related to consideration of a carbon reduction goal and soliciting public input, in November 2020 the LES Administrative Board established a goal to achieve “net zero” carbon dioxide production from its generating facilities by 2040.
Recognizing that many in our community faced a financially challenging year, LES’ leadership was pleased to announce that 2021 would be another year with no systemwide rate increase. LES joined the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce “We Are Lincoln” pledge to help increase equity and inclusion in our community. We also contracted with a consultant to help us build a strategic direction for LES to continue our journey to becoming more diverse and inclusive.
This report highlights the completion of LES’ Operations Center and the transition out of the LES downtown building that recently was sold. The Operations Center was built to “green building” equivalent standards in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection and indoor environmental quality.
Throughout the year, LES was on the frontlines, keeping our promise to deliver reliable electricity to meet customer needs, especially when technology kept many of us connected to our jobs, friends and family. We understand that most of our customers don’t likely spend much time thinking about the role of electricity in their daily lives. You may not think of us every day, but we think of you.
Kevin G. Wailes | Chief Executive Officer