We offer customers education about proven energy-efficient technology options, rate information to help them calculate their operating costs, and energy-efficiency programs to meet their goals and needs. In 2019 we invested approximately $9.8 million in conservation programs. We pursued aggressive energy-conservation goals through a portfolio of programs in Minnesota and South Dakota.
Our Minnesota Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) offers customers the opportunity to save energy and money. Our current conservation plan, approved in 2016, established a portfolio of programs and an energy-savings goal of 1.7 percent of retail sales for 2017-2020. We file an annual update with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. As a result of our 2019 accomplishments, we will receive a financial incentive of $2.7 million.
In 2019 we invested more than $9.1 million in CIP and returned more than $33.5 million in lifetime net benefits to customers. Energy savings reached 69.2 million annual kWh of energy and more than 28.5 MW of demand. For the year, that is 3.98 percent of our annual retail sales. At a lifetime cost of less than 1.8 cents per kWh conserved, our energy-efficiency programs continue to be a cost-effective resource for customers.
In 2020 we plan to file a new conservation plan for 2021-2023 to be reviewed by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
In addition to designing programs to meet conservation goals, we’re working to ensure savings estimates are measurable and verifiable to meet stringent state program requirements. We highlight below some of the programs in our CIP portfolio, which includes more than 30 programs total.
Our South Dakota Energy Efficiency Plan (EEP) continues to encourage residential and business customers to use energy wisely. This conservation plan encourages businesses to install energy-efficient lighting, motors and drives, air-source and geothermal heat pumps, and custom efficiency improvements. The plan urges our customers to take advantage of our CoolSavings air-conditioning control program and offers incentives for installing energy-efficient lighting and air-source and geothermal heat pumps.
Results for 2019 show that we invested approximately $716,000, returning more than $8.1 million in lifetime net benefits for customers. Customer energy savings reached 13.2 million kWh, and more than 2.6 MW of demand savings, which was respectively 140% and 127% of our 2019 EEP goals.
Regulatory requirements included completing an energy-efficiency program plan that was filed and approved in 2016. The plan established a program portfolio and goals for 2017-2019, and was extended through 2020. The report summarizing 2019 accomplishments is set to be filed in 2020, along with a new energy-efficiency plan for 2021-2023 to be reviewed by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission.
We continue to voluntarily offer demand-response programs and incentives to our North Dakota customers. There is currently no policy in place in North Dakota to support utility energy efficiency program expenditures. As opportunities present we engage in discussions related to the development of efficiency programs for our North Dakota customers.
High customer participation in our direct load-control rates is the foundation of our success in load management. With one-third of our customers partnering with us in load management, we’re able to curtail a portion of their electrical load during periods of high demand, high energy prices, or system maintenance. Participating customers save on their energy bills with rates that are less than our standard electric rates.
We accredited with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO) a portion of our direct load-control capacity, making it available on a limited basis during MISO system peaks. The amount accredited varies monthly and is set as 90 MW in January, February, and December; 55 MW in March, April, and November; 25 MW in October; 18 MW in June, July, August, and September; and 15 MW in May. Accrediting a portion of the demand resources is a step to further enhance regional transmission reliability.
Our Resource Plan calls for demand-side management resources to increase annually to reach approximately 8 MW of additional summer-season peak-load-reduction capability through 2031. To achieve this, during 2019 we connected an additional 11.7 MW of controlled winter-season load and 3.4 MW of controlled summer-season load.