(written October 2014)
For home and business owners in the tri-state region of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska who need accessible and friendly service, the High West Energy family of companies are member-owned and locally operated corporations delivering solutions to a number of energy and communications needs.
High West Energy has a rich heritage that forms the foundation for the future. In the late 1930s, some farms and ranches in our region had windmills and batteries to generate and store power, but there was a need for a more reliable and robust energy solution to address their wants. These farmers and ranchers banded together to form Rural Electric Company in order to develop a solution for their problems and thereby advance their quality of life. The solution was to build infrastructure to the countryside in order to receive central station electricity through a company organized, owned and controlled by those it served.
It is important our members understand the cooperative way of doing business, and it will be a priority to provide education and information towards this end. A hallmark of the cooperative has been our relationship with members and local communities – we will continue offering personalized service and being involved in our communities, both financially and socially. The power of human connections is what separates us from other providers and has been an integral part of who and what is a cooperative.
As we preserve our core, we recognize the importance of also stimulating progress. New energy technologies are evolving, customer expectations are changing and, as consumers, we want options and differentiated services. Additionally, customers, employees and business partners expect us to be mobile, social, always on and continually connected. The marketplace is changing and these changes are driving the strategies executed by the cooperative. The cooperative considers it a priority to broaden our availability of products, services and options, both value-added and fee-based, in order to better customize solutions that meet the needs of our members.
Managing our costs and maintaining financial strength have been a hallmark of our success over the years, and will continue to be imperative as we go forward. Cooperative members expect prudent management of the cooperative’s resources and that financial stability is maintained. We aim to decrease our operating costs per kWh sold to below the national electric cooperative average by the end of 2018. We also strive to essentially maintain our equity and modified-equity ratios at current levels which, with our growth, will be more challenging than it sounds.
Likewise, safety of our employees and of the public has always been a priority and must continue to be so. We have a quest for zero lost-time accidents and will invest in equipment, tools and training in order to meet this end.
One of the keys to improving our members’ experience with the cooperative is to reduce inconveniences, whether that be from the interruption of power or communications, being late to appointments or in fulfilling our commitments. It is an organizational goal to reduce our five-year average controllable outage time per account from almost two down to one hour per year. We also strive to increase our member’s trust in the cooperative as measured by a direct question to the membership each year about how trusted we are.
High West Energy recognizes it needs to continue evolving itself from an electric distribution cooperative into a solutions-oriented membership corporation, currently focusing in the areas of energy delivery/management and information/communications. This evolution is from a partially regulated business in which growth and change was slower and where we enjoyed 100% market share, to a more dynamic business where change and growth are the norm and we will be competing to demonstrate how we can provide new value. With the addition of High West Digital Solutions and High West Wiring, competition is already the norm.
What that means for High West Energy and our family of companies is that we are taking the opportunity to refocus ourselves on developing more of a collaborative relationship with our members and customers. This vision requires us to become even more proactive by asking questions in order to identify, understand, design and deliver upon a host of needs of our members and customers. We provide value to our members and customers by being a progressive, innovative, friendly cooperative performing with high integrity, and all our systems, processes and people will exude these qualities.
Ultimately, we are developing our role to be a trusted advisor to our members and customers, in addition to being a service provider, which means our responsibilities include educating and informing our members and customers. Our employees and directors are helping the cooperative transition from our past as primarily asset technicians/managers, to customer relationship managers in the future. This transition includes an increased dedication to communications and engagement between members and the cooperative.
We often hear how much High West Energy is changing and we are. But at the same time we remain true to the cooperative spirit and to the vision that the cooperative exists to advance our members’ quality of life by providing products, programs and services that meet their needs. We aim to be a cooperative with highly satisfied and loyal members.
As Leo Buscaglia said in his book titled, Love “The language we learn will determine who we are, how we see the world and how we organize the world and how we will present our world to others.” How we see the world is different than the last 20 years and, therefore, it requires an entirely new language.