On Election Day, June 20, 1912, the following question was posed t the voters of the Village of New Holstein: "Shall the Village of New Holstein have electric lights?" There were 152 "yes" votes cast (65.8%) that day and the first chapter of New Holstein Utilities' history began. Followng the election, a committee was formed to get all necessary information and prices, as well as to select a site for the construction of a Municipal Lighting Plant. The first committee included: John Schwalenberg, G.R. Seyfert, Henry Aggen, Henry Edens, A.A. Laun and William Riess.
In August, 1912, the Village Board adopted specifications for the construction of an Electric Light Plant, not to exceed $15,000. Two 2,150 horsepower kerosene oil engines were installed at a cost of $12,950 to generate electricity. On December 23, 1912, the electric streetlights were turned on in the community for the first time. The first residence received electric service on January 3, 1913. The initial electric rate for private dwellings was $.15/kWh and a minimum of $1.00 per month. By the end of 1913 there were 125 subscribers for electric service in the community.
By 1920, people were beginning to inquire about providing electric service into the rural areas outside of the village limits. In late 1921 a new "high tension" electric line was constructed and a "farmer line" was approved to be built along Hayton Road. An electric line was approved to be built to Charlesburg in November of 1922 and the line was completed by early January of 1923. Continued interest in electric service and growth in the area's population spurred competition between local utilities. In 1938, New Holstein Utilities signed territorial agreements with the City of Kiel and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation. Although these agreements have changed slightly over the past decades, most of the original agreements are still in place today.
In the 1940s, the operation of New Holstein's power plant was impacted the World War II as it was challenging to obtain fuel and maintain the facility. On October 31, 1945, a wholesale power contract was approved between Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and the City of New Holstein. In September of 1947, the utility agreed to purchase an old transmission line on Hayton Road. After obtaining easements from property owners in the area, a new transmission line was constructed to provide electricity for the New Holstein area.
During the early to mid-1950s, wholesale prices began to rise for the City of New Holstein. Recommendations were also made at this time for the utility to upgrade its 2,400 volt electric system to 12,400 volts. On March 15, 1956, the Utilities Commission approved a recommendation to upgrade to a 12,400 volt three-phase electric distribution system. The approval brought about a flurry of investments into the electric distribution system which included the installation of a 3,750 KVA substation transformer with many new components and upgrades to both the city and rural electric distribution system which began in 1957.
The late 1950s and 1960s saw a tremendous amount of growth in the city and the rural area as new businesses located in the community and existing businesses expanded. New residential subdivisions began to be developed throughout the community and electric heat was installed for some of the new homes, adding to the electric demand. By 1962 another 3,750 KVA substation transformer was approved for service and was installed prior to the completion of the new high school . Economic growth included an influx of vehicle traffic in the 1960s. The county and townships began to widen roads at this time and new electric lines had to be constructed to accomodate the widening of the roads.
The growth to the utility's electric system was so great that by 1968 provisions had to be made to add two 7,500 KVA transformers to the substation. In 1969 the first of the two substations transformers were brought on line and the second of the two transformers was energized in 1971. In order to keep up with all of the growth throughout the community, an electric system loop was completed in 1973.
With all the growth came an increase in the wholesale power rates and costs to serve the retail customers. New Holstein, as well as other municipally-owned electric utilities, began to look for other options for a more economically priced supply resource. In the fall of 1977, after much lobbying, Assembly Bill 287 passed the Wisconsin legislature. This piece of legislation supported the creation of a Municipal Electric Utility Joint Action Statute for the state. On February 12, 1980, the New Holstein Utilities Commission moved to recommend to the New Holstein City Council that a resolution be adopted to join Wisconsin Public Power Incorporated (WPPI) in establishing a Municipal Electric Company. By late 1981, New Holstein began receiving wholesale electric service from WPPI under a five-year service agreement. On March 8, 1989, the New Holstein City Council passed a resolution to agree to enter into a 35-year power supply contract with WPPI. Along with the other twenty-nine members of WPPI, this gave the organization the opportunity to negotiate ownership rights for electric generation which would help stabilize power costs for the future.
The 1990s saw the utility make a huge jump in improving its customer service. Its first effort was to join the statewide Digger's Hotline organization to protect property owners in need of assistance in locating underground utilities that were buried on their properties. Other key initiatives included the conversion to high pressure sodium streetlights, the installation of a computer network system. electronic mapping of the electric distribution system, automating the meter reading system and implementing time-of-day rates, as well as offering customers a variety of payment options.
Like most other businesses, New Holstein Utilities managed to get through the transition to Y2K without any problems. Late in 2000, the utility began implementing its own energy efficiency, and energy assistance programs to its customers to help them use energy in the most cost efficient manner possible. During the summer of 2001, New Holstein Utilities went international as it went online with its web site. On August 27, 2002, the Utility Commission made the recommendation to the City Council to amend the WPPI Long-Term Power Supply Contract be extended to 2037. By the middle of the decade, following an electric infrastructure study, NHU began to prepare to add a second substation to its electric system as well as upgrade the old substation and make additional system improvements. By 2008, all of the electric infrastructure upgrades were completed including the addtion of a second substation, a complete upgrade of the old substation and a distribution tie line between the two substations. These projects provided the community with new equipment and a more reliable electric infrastruture.
New Holstein Utilities is proud of its history and our tradition as a municipally-owned (public power) utility. Our goal is to provide reliable, value-added and economically-priced utility services. As a not-for-profit entity, we are concerned about our customers. We are here to serve you! Through our 100+ years, New Holstein Utilities has had eight Superintendents/General Managers and forty-two (42) Utility Commissioners. That longevity among our utlity's leadership shows the commitment to our customers and to the community of New Holstein. We look forward to serving our customers for many more years to come!