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How utilities are stepping up to be innovative sustainability partners

Innovative sustainability partners

If Elon Musk and my mom ever met, they would probably be fast friends. Sure, they have different tastes in baby names (although “Karen” and “X Æ A-Xii” are both solid choices), but they have a lot of other things in common. Both are innovators. Both were ahead of their times. And both have inspired me to do the right thing for our planet.

My mom, who grew up in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, made us recycle before it was in vogue. If we threw something away that could have been recycled, we’d get what my siblings and I referred to as “the talk.” She made sure each piece of cardboard, paper, plastic, and aluminum in our house would go on to live another life, demonstrating by example that we all need to do our part for the environment.

Her BFF Elon never would have gotten “the talk”. Instead, my mom would have cheered him on, even when, let’s be honest, his ideas sounded farfetched. Elon famously said “when something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” My mom – and I – couldn’t agree more.

I believe that we need innovators, dreaming big, to push us all forward. And those dreamers can be found in all walks of life, from entrepreneurs like Elon Musk to corporations like Black Hills Energy.

I’ve spent my entire career in the utility industry and have seen throughout the past couple of decades how we have evolved to not only provide a vital service, but to partner with our customers to meet their sustainability goals. Big goals. Seemingly impossible goals.

But, when it comes right to it, everything is possible when you have the right people in the room.

For instance, when Microsoft needed an energy solution for its data center in Cheyenne, Wyoming that could help them meet their ambitious sustainability goals, we went to the drawing board with them. We developed and implemented a new, innovative tariff, known as our Large Power Contract Service. This tariff allowed us to secure market energy on behalf of our largest customers in Wyoming, giving them access to the power market and a choice of energy resources, including up to 100 percent renewable energy. This solution provides Microsoft with more affordable rates, industry leading reliability, and yes, the ability to meet their renewable energy goals.

We didn’t stop there either. We reached out to other customers in South Dakota and Wyoming to learn more about their sustainability goals and created the Renewable Ready program, a subscription-based program which allowed our customers to purchase renewable energy through a purpose-built wind facility in Wyoming. 

In Colorado, we’re working on another win-win for our customers. Renewable Advantage is our plan to deliver cost savings to our customers by doubling the amount of low-cost, renewable energy on our Southern Colorado system by 2023. There’s no rule or regulatory board saying we have to make this effort. It was just the right thing to do for our customers, so we went for it.

This kind of innovation and pro-active mentality is what sets Black Hills Energy apart, and we’re ready to create solutions for your next data center. Come to us with your big goals, your seemingly impossible visions, and we’ll work with you to make them happen.