Building Strong Communities

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Building Strong Communities

We are committed to being good neighbors in all we do

Black Hills Improves Life with Energy by providing essential energy to our customers and communities. We have a proud legacy of service that is guided by our values and our deep commitment to helping our communities thrive and grow.

We care for the community through charitable giving, outreach, and employee volunteerism. In 2017, our community investment totaled over $3.8 million.

2017 Total Community Contributions (rounded)

2017 Community contributions dollars given (rounded)
Black Hills Cares/Energy Assistance $550,800
Community Giving $1,292,500
Corporate Giving/BHC Foundation $675,700
Economic Development/Sponsorships $687,400
Employee Giving/United Way $487,400
Energy Saving Trees/Power of Trees $106,000
Other Employee Giving $6,000
TOTAL $3,806,000

2017 Community Contributions by State (rounded)

State Dollars Given
Arkansas $311,000
Colorado $624,000
Iowa $447,000
Kansas $392,000
Nebraska $785,000
South Dakota $882,000
Wyoming $365,000
TOTAL $3,806,000

Black Hills Corp. Foundation

At Black Hills, giving back to the community is a value deeply rooted in our culture. We established the Black Hills Corp. Foundation in 2001 to support our communities through corporate philanthropy. Since 2001, the foundation has provided $4.7 million in grants to support more than 360, long-lasting “brick-and-mortar” projects and capital funding campaigns in each of our states. Our foundation is governed by a board of directors made up of Black Hills’ leaders who meet on a quarterly basis to review funding requests and award grants for projects representing each of our four giving priorities:*

*Grants are awarded to qualifying 501(c) 3 nonprofit organizations as classified by the IRS.

  • Helping People: Our customers are our neighbors and it’s important that we provide support where it’s needed most. We direct our giving to alleviate issues such as food insecurity, and support programs that provide assistance to low income families. For example, in 2017 we provided a grant to Western South Dakota Senior Services for the purchase of a second Meals on Wheels truck to support increased meal deliveries to the elderly and home-bound from 450 to 850 in 2017.
  • Responsible Energy & Environmental Stewardship: Our customers count on us to produce energy responsibly and to use our natural resources wisely. We support environmental programs that preserve and protect our natural resources and enhance the beauty of our communities. For example, in 2017 we provided a grant to Restore our Rivers for the restoration of riverside land of the Colorado, Dolores and Purgatoire rivers that has been lost to invasive plant species. Restore our Rivers is an initiative of the Tamarisk Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the crisis of invasive plants afflicting rivers throughout the arid Southwest. Another 2017 grant was awarded to the Platte River Trails Trust to extend the recreational trail system along the North Platte River in Casper, Wyoming.
  • Strong Communities: Our success is directly tied to the vitality of the communities we serve. We support projects that have a lasting impact on the community and on its citizens. For example, in 2017 we provided a grant to the Dodge City Family YMCA in Kansas for the construction of new athletic and dance facilities and an expansion of the fitness center. Another 2017 grant was awarded to the Gothenburg Memorial Hospital inNebraska for the construction of a new YMCA lifestyle facility at the newly expanded hospital.
  • Workforce/Education: Thriving communities rely on strong educational systems and programs that support workforce readiness, skills training and career development. We direct our giving primarily to programs that strengthen learning opportunities in STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). For example, in 2017 we provided funding for the Elizabeth Richardson Center in Arkansas to add a manufacturing and workforce development training center at the Elizabeth Richardson Center in Springdale, Arkansas. The Elizabeth Richardson Center serves the needs of children and adults with disabilities. Another 2017 grant was awarded to Western Nebraska Community College to expand the power lineman program facility.

Employee Giving through the United Way

We have a long-standing tradition of supporting United Way, going back more than 70 years with our first partnership with the United Way of the Black Hills in 1944. By giving to the United Way, our employees are able to make a positive impact in the communities where they live and work. More than 1,100 employees – about 40 percent of our workforce - contributed to the 2017 United Way campaign through monthly payroll donations and one-time gifts. In 2017, employee giving to the United Way was approximately $487,400. Every employee donation was matched 25 percent by the Black Hills Corp. Foundation, for a total impact of nearly $609,300.

Community Giving

Being a good neighbor means being a good partner to our local communities. At Black Hills, we provide funding support to help our cities and towns thrive. Our giving encompasses: community event sponsorships, contributions to local non-profit organizations, and college scholarships to graduating high school seniors.

Power of Trees/Energy-Saving Trees

For more than 25 years, Black Hills has been actively engaged in helping our customers and communities save energy through tree-planting projects. Planting the right trees in the right places improves the energy efficiency of homes and businesses and provides significant environmental benefits. In 2017, Black Hills helped our customers plant 3,400 trees in cities and towns across our service territory.

  • Power of Trees – Through an innovative, 25-year partnership with Trees Forever in Iowa, Black Hills’ Power of Trees program has been recognized by the Department of Energy and Edison Electric Institute as a national model for community tree planting projects. Since it began in 1992, Power of Trees has been involved in the planting of more than 77,000 trees in 88 communities across Iowa.
  • Energy-Saving Trees – Since 2014, Black Hills has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation’s Energy-Savings Trees program with tree giveaways and plantings in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Black Hills Cares - Energy Assistance

We are committed to providing energy assistance to those in need. Together, with donations from our customers, employees and a dollar-for-dollar match from Black Hills Energy, we provided more than $550,800 in 2017 in energy assistance support to families across our service territory. In the past 10 years, Black Hills Cares has provided more than $4.9 million to assist those in need. Black Hills Cares is administered by non-profit partners in each of our states.

STATE 2017 DOLLARS GIVEN
Arkansas $41,800
Colorado $101,500
Iowa $65,400
Kansas $99,500
Nebraska $174,000
South Dakota $46,500
Wyoming $22,100
TOTAL $550,800

In addition to Black Hills Cares, we support energy assistance through:

  • Linking our customers to state and local energy assistance resources
  • Assisting customers with payment arrangements and bill payment programs
  • Contributing to energy weatherization programs
  • Supporting efforts on the federal level to advocate for funding for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Community Economic Development

Growing and thriving is a goal we share with the communities we serve. We are committed to supporting the economic well-being of our communities and work in close partnership with our local chambers of commerce, business associations and economic development organizations. In 2017, we provided over $687,400 in support of community economic development efforts through memberships and sponsorships of local economic development programs. Our employees also contribute their time and talents to lead and support local community development initiatives.

Employee Involvement

Each year, our employees give of their time and talents to support community organizations and non-profits across our service territory. In 2017, our employees supported more than 700 organizations by serving on nonprofit boards, mentoring in schools, and coaching youth sports teams, among others. The time spent makes a significant impact. For example, our employees in Nebraska volunteered almost 10,000 hours of their time in 2017 in service to others.

Public Safety

The safety of our customers, the general public and our employees always comes first. Our natural gas and electric safety programs include:

  • Pipeline integrity management: we have a comprehensive pipeline integrity management plan to proactively monitor and assess the integrity of our natural gas pipelines through continuous inspections and testing.
  • Training for first responders: our teams provided 60 training sessions on subjects like pipeline and electric safety in seven of our states during 2017, training well over 300 first responders.
  • Pipeline awareness and outreach: we provide information to our customers about natural gas pipelines we own or operate near their homes and businesses. We provide detailed instructions for the general public, emergency responders, excavators, and public officials to inform them about safety around natural gas pipelines, compressor stations and storage facilities.
  • 811 - Call Before You Dig: we actively promote the 811 Call Before You Dig line through communications and social media outreach to build awareness about this essential underground utility-marking service among our customers, contractors and communities.
  • Power line safety: we provide information to our customers, community and the general public to build increased awareness about staying safe around power lines - at home, during storms and especially around downed or damaged power lines.
  • Vegetation management: to support the reliability of our electric distribution and transmission lines, we perform tree trimming and integrated vegetation management activities to manage power lines’ rights-of-way.

For more information about natural gas and electric safety, visit www.blackhillsenergy.com/safety.