WEST DES MOINES, Iowa, Aug. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Black Hills Energy – Iowa Gas has received a 2011 ENERGY STAR ® Leadership in Housing Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This award recognizes the contribution Black Hills Energy has made, working closely with home builders in its communities, to energy-efficient construction. The utility verified and incented the construction of 574 ENERGY STAR qualified homes last year throughout its Iowa service territory. Collectively, these homes will save Black Hills Energy customers approximately $256,500 on utility bills each year. "Black Hills Energy is honored to receive the ENERGY STAR award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the third consecutive year," said Stuart Wevik, Black Hills vice president of utility operations. "We are committed to helping customers use energy wisely without sacrificing comfort. And we appreciate the continued support and partnership of our local contractors who have been instrumental to the success of this effort." To earn the ENERGY STAR qualification, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the EPA. These homes are at least 20 percent more efficient than homes built to local code and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20 percent to 30 percent more efficient than standard homes. "While other builders may claim to build energy-efficient homes, ENERGY STAR builder partners back it up," said Jonathan Passe, Acting Manager for EPA's ENERGY STAR Residential Branch. "Their houses undergo a rigorous independent inspection and testing process to ensure that they deliver real efficiency, comfort, durability and value for homebuyers." For more information about the energy efficiency programs available to Black Hills Energy's residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in Iowa, go to www.BHEhowto.com or call 888-567-0799. Black Hills/Iowa Gas Utility Company, LLC d/b/a Black Hills Energy Black Hills Energy serves 151,000 natural gas customers in 130 Iowa communities and is a recipient of the U.S. EPA 2011 ENERGY STAR® Leadership in Housing Award. Black Hills Energy is a subsidiary of Black Hills Corp. (NYSE: BKH).