Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative, Inc. members will soon benefit from the strategic plan and the new four-year construction work plan, projects which will reduce costs and improve service.
The cooperative’s strategic plan to centralize its office locations will create long-term cost savings and operational efficiencies for members. When the plan is fully implemented, the savings are conservatively estimated to be over $1 million per year.
A ten-year financial forecast that includes construction of the central facility in the 2016-17 timeframe shows that centralization reduces expenses and improves efficiencies. The study shows that future electric rate increases will be less with the implementation of the strategic plan.
In August 2013, the Rolling Hills membership voted their approval of the centralization strategic plan. In the months since the vote, the Board of Trustees and management have worked to launch the strategic plan and are now ready to announce significant achievements.
The first phase will build a satellite facility in Osborne for a four-person field crew. Rolling Hills expects to award a construction contract in October. Construction could begin immediately, and the facility would be operational in early 2015.
“The satellite facility in Osborne will create savings, because we will operate more efficiently to serve Rolling Hills members in areas of Smith, Jewell, Osborne, Mitchell, Russell, and Lincoln counties. The Osborne facility will benefit all Rolling Hills members, as we work to improve operations and reduce costs,” said Doug Jackson, Manager.
Rolling Hills has purchased land for the main office facility to be constructed in Beloit near the intersection of state highways 9 and 24. “Looking at our service area, Beloit offers the most central location to bring together all of our office personnel and half of our linemen, who currently operate from very distant locations. The piece of land is well-situated for the access we need. We have been working, and continue to work, with entities in Beloit to create a win-win project for our members and the community. We appreciate the help and cooperation of everyone involved to make the centralization project a success,” said Jackson.
The Board of Trustees considered options for the design and construction of the central facility. The Board selected the design-build process over the traditional design-bid-build process. “Design-build is the state-of-the-art, best practices method of project execution. A team of design architects and engineers work together with a construction management firm from the very beginning of the project. The result is a better overall project, designed and constructed at less cost and faster than the traditional design-bid-build process. Although the ‘design-build’ process name doesn’t include the word ‘bid,’ design-build does include a competitive bid process for construction,” said Jackson.
The Board considered experience, expertise, and bench strength in the selection of a design-build team. “We want a team that knows the electric cooperative business, and how to design facilities for efficient operation; a team with a demonstrated track record of success; a team with good bench strength, sufficient qualified personnel to execute a successful project; a team that will design and construct a facility within our budget. We want the optimum facility for current and future needs: the right facility at the right price. And we want a team that will provide all of the above at competitive professional services fees,” said Gary Frieling, Trustee and Board President. Based on those considerations, the Board selected the design-build team of Cooperative Building Solutions, M+H Architects, and Paric Corporation.
The 2014-17 construction work plan of $17.1 million will upgrade the existing system. Construction work plans are mostly stay-in-business projects to keep the lights on, like replacing aging poles and transformers. “The 2014-17 construction work plan includes approximately $3.2 million specifically for transmission system upgrades to the Lovewell and Hunter areas that must be addressed,” said Jackson.
If members have questions or comments, they can contact Manager Doug Jackson or a Board of Trustees member.