The Lansing, Mich., Board of Water & Light (BWL) received the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Community Service Award at the Association’s national conference in Seattle, Washington. This award recognizes “good neighbor” activities that demonstrate the commitment of the utility and its employees to the community.
Sandra Zerkle, Chair of the Lansing Board of Water & Light’s Board of Commissioners said, “We are honored and delighted to be recognized with the APPA Community Service Award. This is one of the most prestigious awards a public utility can earn. One of the reasons it means so much is that opportunities to give back embrace all our employees. Every single one of them can take part, and many have given so much over the years.”
BWL’s activities over the last few years have included a number of diverse programs, including a plug-in electric vehicle project (PEV) and the Hometown Energy Savers program.
The PEV project included the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure to evaluate community needs and usage. In addition to incentives provided to purchase plug-in electric vehicles, like the Chevy Volt, for 16 residential and governmental customers, 29 charging stations have been installed, including 16 residential stations and 13 work and public locations, with approximately 15 more to be installed in the next few months. The project has enhanced awareness of alternatives to foreign fuels, helped identify barriers related to infrastructure installation and ownership of PEVs, evaluation impact on the BWL electric distribution system and created additional jobs in the state for building cars, batteries, and charging stations.
The Hometown Energy Savers program improves residential and business customers’ ability to manage their electrical energy use and increase energy efficiency in their homes and buildings. This program supports the utility’s 2008 strategic plan that included providing for long-term resource needs by developing and implementing an energy efficiency plan and fostering green events that allow the utility to interact with the community. In conjunction with this, the BWL has reached out to the community through expert presenters for community meetings and hosts community events such as festivals and recycling initiatives.
Other community projects in recent years have included the 1st S.T.E.P. School to Training and Employment high school intern program, Chili Cook-off, Adopt a River, Pennies for Power/Hometown Power 5K Run, Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place, Silver Bells in the City, Junior Achievement of Mid-Michigan, and Hometown Employee Club.