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Members Give Wheatland High Marks for "Reliable Service"

Overall Satisfaction Way Above That of Other Utilities

Wheatland Electric members gave Wheatland a terrific vote of confidence in the second quarter of 2014, awarding a score of 90 points out of 100 for “providing reliable service.” Last year, Wheatland surveyed roughly 250 members each quarter to try to get a feel for what it’s doing well and where improvements are needed.

Another highlight from the second quarter: those surveyed gave Wheatland 90 points for “restoring electric service when power goes out.” In the comments section, one respondent wrote, “They are the greatest in the world.  They came out at 3 in the morning just to fix a problem.”  Members who lose power simply need to call their local office to report the outage.   

Members gave Wheatland 89 points for “having competent and knowledgeable employees.” Wheatland has made easy access to those employees a cornerstone of its service philosophy.  “A lot of people in Great Bend are pleased that they reopened the local office… Now you can go in and talk to them,” wrote one member in the comments section.

Wheatland earned an 89 in the category “being committed to the community,” a score that has been trending upward.  When General Manager Bruce Mueller joined Wheatland in 2012, he renewed the co-op’s commitment to community involvement, with initiatives like: The Sharing Success program, which awards $10,000 each year to worthy non-profit organizations doing good work in Wheatland’s service territory; The Cram-the-Van food drive, which collected 6,615 pounds of food for the hungry in 2014; a scholarship program for 13 outstanding high school seniors; as well as the Youth Tour program which sends students to Washington, DC or Steamboat Springs, CO to encourage  participation in civic activities and development of life-long leadership skills

“Concern for Community” is one of the 7 Cooperative Principles the cooperative movement was founded on,” said Mueller.  “Those principles were written decades ago, but they are just as relevant today.  We at Wheatland have always been devoted to our community.  Now we’re trying to do a better job of letting people know that.”

Members awarded Wheatland an “Overall Satisfaction” score of 82 out of 100, on average, during the first 3 quarters of 2014.  (Fourth quarter figures will be available soon.)  For comparison purposes, investor owned for-profit electric utilities and municipal utilities most recently earned customer satisfaction scores of 75, on average, 7 points below Wheatland’s score.  These scores are derived from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, a national standard.

TSE Services, the company that conducted the surveys, said in its comments: “Based on year-to-year comparisons, Wheatland’s scores show noticeable improvement in ‘providing good value for the money you spend’ and “having a goal to provide electricity at the lowest possible cost.”

Last month Wheatland announced it was passing along 100% of a wholesale power costs savings to members in its western service territory.  In another effort to save members money, Wheatland offers the Co-Op Connections card and mobile app, which provides members more than 24,000 local and national discounts on products and services. One of the most valuable features of the card is discounts on healthcare — and members are taking note.   One member surveyed wrote, “I like that they gave a prescription card.  It’s made a big difference on my prescription expenses.”

Members’ lowest mark for Wheatland was a 76 for “helping you learn to manage your energy use.”  In response to this constructive criticism, Wheatland has implemented  Energy Efficiency Rebates that reimburse members  as much as $500 for buying an efficient heating and cooling unit; placed Kill-A-Watt meters  in every library in its service territory that tell you which of your appliances uses the most energy; and upgraded the Wheatland website including “Save Energy” and “Save Money” informational links with virtual tours of a business and a residence that show you how to curb your energy usage.

“We’re grateful that our members responded to every single question with a rating somewhere between “very satisfied” and “satisfied,” said Mueller.  “But we won’t rest on our laurels.  Our goal is to continue to excel in what we do well, innovate where there’s room for improvement and let members know about all the great things that are happening at Wheatland.”

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