Team Midwest is on a fast growth track as we build your Utility of the Future. We are investing in our membership with two major projects that will add unimaginable value to your membership and forever change the way you live, work, and interact. Both projects require the addition of significant human and physical resources, and require us to make a strategic investment in the infrastructure that will house the systems, supports and people behind your Utility of the Future.
We are slated to break ground in May 2016 on a new corporate headquarters building. Learn more about the need, opportunity and impact of this project in the Q&A below.
We’re simply out of space, and are on a fast growth track as we work on the short- and long-term goals that will position us as your Utility of the Future. Our current headquarters facility was built in 1940 and renovated in the mid-1990s. It was appropriately sized for that time, but no one could anticipate the opportunity and growth that would face the organization just two decades later.
In 1975 we had 23 employees in the Cass office. Following the renovation we had 68 employees and today we have 93. As we prepare for a future of smart grid related home automation and fiber deployment, we expect to add an additional 32 employees over the next five years. Doing nothing is not an option as we must add human and physical resources to accomplish our goals.
We engaged with Cooperative Building Solutions (CBS) to ensure that we were being good stewards of existing resources and member dollars. CBS completed a comprehensive site, facility and needs assessment which revealed that existing facilities are inadequate for current and future space and operational needs.
Our building consultant, Cooperative Building Solutions, presented two options, both resulting in a similar rate impact: new and renovated facilities at the current site or new facilities on a new site. They recommended the latter as it offered opportunity to create a layout and flow that maximizes efficiency and accommodates future growth. The board approved the plan to proceed at their November 2015 meeting.
After the board vote, an AEP project further confirmed our decision to build. In 2015, AEP engaged in a major Cass County Area Improvements Project to replace an aging transmission line. Their project requires a 100-foot wide right-of-way to safely construct, operate and maintain the line, and that line runs directly through our current property. This limits options at the current site, and warrants immediate action to develop a new site. Ultimately, however this plays out with AEP, it will largely offset costs of land acquisition for the new facility.
We make annual strategic investments in our distribution system. You don’t necessarily see them, but you experience them in better reliability and an overall better service experience. This project is a strategic investment in the infrastructure that houses critical resources like systems, supports and people behind your service experience. We will be very intentional with building layout and design decisions to create functional and operational efficiencies that will positively impact the bottom line.
As we create the space that will house your #UtilityoftheFuture, we will incorporate and showcase many emerging home/office automation technologies, as well as leading energy efficiency solutions. We will share that information on our blog over the course of the build, giving you opportunities to follow the progress and learn what’s relevant for your own home or office environment.
This is a capital investment and we are working with our commercial banking partners to secure the best low-interest, long-term financing opportunity and approach.
This is not a one-time expense, but an investment that will be depreciated over a 40-year period. We expect a maximum 3%-4% rate impact beginning in 2018, and it will be spread among all members who will benefit for many years into the future.
The strategic objectives driving the need for this new facility are so much bigger than just the fiber internet service. Our primary goal always has been to realize utility and member benefits through the addition of a robust fiber communications system on our grid. We will have access to better information and data to improve your service experience, and you will have access to current and yet-to-be-developed home/office automation technologies that will create comforts and conveniences not previously known. The fiber internet service is a by-product of this investment in our system.