Zeeland BPW aims to boost local economy with extra round of Power Dollars

For nearly three decades, the Zeeland Board of Public Works has provided the Holiday Power Dollars program, which treats the community’s households to a $15 reward each year to be spent at participating local businesses. 

To earn Holiday Power Dollars, residential electric customers decorate the exterior of their home or yard with holiday lights or Zeeland’s famed Yard Cards. This annual gift not only benefits local residents and encourages festive neighborhoods, but also supports local businesses that accept the certificates. 

The Zeeland BPW reimburses participating merchants 100% of the face value of each certificate. To date, the Holiday Power Dollar program has infused almost $650,000 into the local Zeeland economy.

Economic stimulus

This summer, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zeeland BPW will issue a bonus round of Power Dollars. This mid-cycle distribution will offer all customer households a gift of $15 in Economic Advantage Power Dollars. This one-time program, valued at $25,000, was created as a tool to stimulate the local economy during this difficult time. 

“We have really had what could be referred to as an economic stimulus program in existence for almost 30 years. The program has been used to incentivize residential utility customers to decorate for the holidays while, at the same time, encourage patronage of Zeeland’s amazing array of local businesses,” says Zeeland BPW General Manager Andrew Boatright.

“We realized two things,” Boatright says. “First, that the manual method of certificate distribution was no longer viable and, second, that the Holiday Power Dollars program can be easily adapted to engage Zeeland BPW customers in other ways — in this case, opting-in for paperless billing.” 

Completely electronic

Past cycles of Power Dollars have included physical certificates and relied on in-person transactions for customers to claim the certificates. 

Starting this summer, all new cycles of Power Dollars will be digital and touch-free. To claim Economic Advantage Power Dollars, residential customers must enroll in paperless billing at zeelandbpw.com/billpay by Sept. 20, 2020. 

The updated program will equip the Zeeland BPW to distribute to a broader range of customers. It also will allow participating businesses to be reimbursed much more quickly, Boatright says. 

Three unique $5 Power Dollars certificates, totaling $15, will be delivered via email to one person per household.

Print or save to phone

All Power Dollars will have a QR code and a unique alphanumeric six-digit code. Customers can print the certificates or simply save them to a smartphone so participating merchants can scan the QR code to redeem the certificate.

Previously, $15 certificates were issued. However, giving each household three $5 certificates will make it less likely a merchant will need to give cash back — meaning more of each certificate will be spent in local businesses. 

As with the previous Power Dollars program, Zeeland BPW will reimburse participating merchants 100% of each certificate value. When customers receive their Power Dollars, they will also receive a list of local participating merchants that accept the certificates.

The annual Holiday Power Dollars program will return — on schedule — running from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12, 2020. Both Economic Advantage Power Dollars and Holiday Power Dollars will expire Jan. 31, 2021.
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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.