Our History


Office Location  Office Hours  Phone & Fax 
 2610 Plaza Dr 7:30-4:00   618-654-7511 p
Highland, IL  Monday - Friday  618-654-1901 f 


A message from  Director Cook

The mission of the Light and Power team is to provide our customers with the most cost effective and reliable electric system available.  I am Dan Cook, the Director of Light & Power and I work to uphold that mission daily.  I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, where I received my Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Wayne State University.  I worked in the automotive industry for over 20 years before I relocated to Highland in 2009.   While working for the city, I obtained my license to practice as a Professional Engineer in the State of Illinois.  I have enjoyed the challenge of providing reliable electric services for the city and look forward to making more advances in the coming years.



History of the City of Highland Municpal Utility

        The history of the Highland Electric Department has its roots in dissatisfaction with street lighting. In the latter years of the nineteenth century, city streets were illuminated by kerosene streetlights. However, Highland residents returning from visits to the electrified towns of Vandalia, Collinsville, and Effingham sang the praises of electric light. Consequently, on August 23, 1892 an ordinance was passed authorizing a seven year contract with the General Electric Light Company of Chicago to furnish electric service to the city. General Electric built a small power plant at the west end of 8th street and within four months was providing power for street lighting, in addition to stores and residences.

        Throughout the term of the original contract with General Electric, service to both the city and private customers was spotty, at best. The City Council thought that at an annual cost of $1,800 the street lighting service was far less than what should be expected. One result of the poor service was that sometime during that first seven year contract the General Electric facilities were sold to the Highland Electric Company. Unfortunately, service under the HEC did not improve in the least. 

        From almost the very beginning of electrification, public opinion began calling for city ownership and operation of the electric system. In 1899 an ordinance a city ordinance was passed approving the purchase of the electric plant for the sum of $8,500. Additional ordinances authorized a bond issue to pay for the plant and to hire a city electrician for $70 per month. Within 10 years the first industrial users of electricity came on-line. By 1915 most of the industries in town were electric customers. The burgeoning growth of users caused increasing expenses to the city’s electric system operation. Because of the increasing costs, by 1922 the City was in debt to the tune of $60,000. The City was forced to issue funding bonds to retire the debt and put the electric plant on more of a business basis.

        In 1935, another bond issue covered the cost of plant improvements done under the PWA plan.  By 1966 there was insufficient capacity to meet peak loads. So a 2050 kW engine was installed at the power plant. In 1968 a second 2070 kW unit was installed. Peak load continued to increase, resulting in the installation of two 4415 kW engines in 1971. 

        Prior to 1977, the Highland electric system was self-sustaining, in that all demand was met by the City’s own generators. Beginning in 1977, the City switched to a system in which the base load was carried by power imported from Illinois Power and the City of Springfield, carried along a 34,200 volt transmission line. By 1984 Highland had a contract that purchased firm power from Illinois Power, with additional interruptible power being available from IP and the City of Springfield. The City generators were used for peak shaving and emergency back-up to the transmission line.

City of Highland Today

The Highland Electric system, with an operating revenue of over $9 million, has been owned and operated by the City since 1899. The system presently serves 5,257 residential, 572 commercial and 193 industrial users spread out across a geographic area of approximately 64 square miles. Total electrical load for 2005 amounted to 124,921 megawatt-hours, with a peak load this past summer of 35.6 megawatts. 

The distribution system consists of 6,672 poles, 1,780 pole mounted transformers, 627 padmount transformers and 5 substations. There are 247 miles of overhead circuits and 77 miles of underground circuits (see map). 

In addition, the system now owns the 138 kV interconnect constructed by the IMEA (see map). This line, which is the main electric supply into the city, runs from Collinsville to the power plant yard. It consists of 176 poles spaced along a route that is 14.7 miles in length, connecting an Illinois Power transmission line to the 138 kV substation.

The City also has a firmly delineated service area, which stretches far outside the actual city limits. The City of Highland has agreed to service boundaries with Southwest Electric Co-Op, Clinton County Co-Op, and Illinois Power. (see map). The City has the right to serve any new customer within its service area, while continuing to serve existing customers outside its service area. The City is also allowed to serve new customers in existing developments outside of it service area.