As the energy industry continues to evolve, Lake Region Electric Cooperative remains committed to meeting, and exceeding, the expectations of our members. We are always looking for ways to create more value for our members, both in the way we do business and with the products we offer.
Based on our members’ needs and industry trends, we are adapting our business model to better serve you as your trusted energy provider. This often means thinking differently and being willing to embrace new technologies.
From the way we take payments to how we communicate during outages, LREC aims to quickly provide you with better information and more convenient ways to do business with your co-op. For example, you are now able to report an outage directly through our website or from your smartphone. When storms strike the area, our online Outage Center Map will keep you in the loop by providing outage updates and an estimated time for power restoration. Our My Meter service can also notify you by text or e-mail if an outage affects your area. Also through MyMeter you can view your energy usage on an hourly, daily, or monthly basis and receive a text or e-mail if your usage varies from a setting that you choose. Our Smart Hub allows members to view statements and make payments online.
Wind Energy Becoming a Driving Force
I encourage you to take some time to read this article from GRE and learn how wind energy is driving the new energy paradigm. A higher percentage of our energy is coming from wind generation resources and LREC is embracing this shift in a couple of ways. We offer Electric Thermal Storage (ETS) water heaters and Steffes ETS furnaces and room heaters. Both utilize advanced technology to take advantage of the increasing supply of inexpensive but intermittent wind energy being generated. Your co-op offers great prices, rebates, and low ETS rates for these products.
LREC Solar Efforts Aimed in New Direction
We received an extremely positive response to our two community solar gardens and are following up with an offer to sell small solar systems for installation on member property. Through GoWest Solar, qualifying members can purchase a small, southwest facing ground mount solar array designed to maximize solar production when electricity is most valuable—the early evening, peak usage hours of summer. The GoWest Solar rate is built around the value of reducing peak summer demand. Participating members will receive a valuable bill credit during the months of June, July, and August.
GoWest Solar participants are also eligible to receive a free 100-gallon ETS rate water heater. ETS water heaters store hot water produced during off-peak hours, increasingly by wind generated electricity. Participating members benefit through access to low-cost renewable energy of their own delivered through co-op distribution lines.
I am also excited to announce a partnership with industry leader, Briggs & Stratton, to offer automatic standby generators for our members. LREC crews will install and provide maintenance for the generator systems. Key features of the generator package include the quick install DirectPower™ automatic transfer switch that brings on the generator automatically, and the Symphony™ power management system that allows a generator to power your whole house. An EASY-PAY payment plan is available to make the generators an affordable option for many members.
We depend on electricity more than ever and even though LREC’s service reliability has improved markedly over the years, natural disasters can occur and automatic standby generators can offer people the peace of mind and security they need.
Natural Gas Update
Your co-op recognizes that natural gas is one of the lowest cost, cleanest burning fuels available and will be a primary national energy resource for a long time. We’ve formed a subsidiary called Lake Region Energy Services (LRES) and through a working partnership with Greater Minnesota Gas (GMG), we look forward to bringing natural gas to the Deer Creek and Parkers Prairie communities.
LRES has filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, ordered materials, and hired a pipeline contractor who will begin work this month. Work will begin with the GMG intrastate pipeline, followed by the build out of distribution lines into the Parkers Prairie and Deer Creek communities. We expect to have construction complete with gas flowing by August 1, 2017.
Strengthening the Core Business
While we are diversifying our business model with many new offerings, I want you to know the employees and board members of LREC remain steadfastly committed to our core business. This year’s work plan is focused on continued investment in our system—with reliability and safety as our primary goals.
I view the innovative packages and partnerships we are putting together as adding value for the cooperative and all of our members. We want to provide the services and products that our members are going to need now and into the future. Creating new business revenue streams benefits the co-op financially and every dollar that comes into LREC from non-operating revenue is a dollar that we don’t need to charge in rates.
At Lake Region Electric Cooperative, we are actively looking for ways to partner with our members to help you lower your costs in a changing energy world. We succeed when our members succeed and by offering innovative new programs and establishing strategic partnerships, we set our cooperative up for a successful future.