Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) held its 80th annual meeting Thursday evening, June 1, 2017 at Life Church in Fergus Falls, MN. Approximately 600 members and friends enjoyed a delicious meal catered by the Underwood Lions Club and Central Market, Perham. There were 319 registered members who each received a $10 bill credit for attending the meeting.
Pastor Nicholas Preston, Life Church, gave the invocation. Three incumbent directors were then elected by acclamation: Dennis Mathiason from District 2, Charles Kvare from District 5, and Sid Wisness from District 8.
LREC Board Chair Charles Kvare spoke about how the co-op model works because of a commitment to working together, maintaining local control and accountability, and focusing on providing quality service. As the ways members use electric energy changes, the co-op must remain flexible and develop new programs and service offerings to help members make the wisest and most efficient choices about how they use energy.
Highlights from CEO Presentation
CEO Tim Thompson touched on some of Lake Region’s exciting new endeavors and innovative energy services. “The world is changing and we really want to be our members’ trusted local energy services provider,” he said. “We’ve surveyed our membership and know there is interest in more solar and standby generation programs.”
GoWest Solar & Standby Generators
After selling out two community solar projects, LREC is now offering an innovative new program called GoWest Solar. Members can opt to have small, southwest-facing solar arrays installed on their property. This alignment optimizes electricity production during the early evening hours of summer when electric demand is high and market value is greatest. Another new offering is intelligently-powered generators from Briggs & Stratton. LREC is selling and installing these standby power systems that will automatically start when the power goes out.
View a video clip: GoWest Solar & Standby Generators
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Community Based Renewables
Another new venture the co-op is considering is a community based renewable energy project. This local wind, solar, and storage hybrid project is projected to save the co-op money.
View a video clip: Community Based Renewables
Lake Region continues to innovate to meet members’ needs and exceed their expectations. One example of the progressive approach the co-op is taking can be seen with its vegetation management program. By investing in tree clearing and undertaking an aggressive five-year vegetation management cycle, Thompson reported that LREC is now spending less on tree clearing today than in 2004. During that same time period, Lake Region has decreased the average outage hours per member by 61 percent.
View a video clip: Vegetation Management
Natural Gas: Lake Region Energy Services
Thompson also talked about Lake Region Energy Services, a newly developed subsidiary of LREC that will serve as a natural gas distribution company. “Natural gas is a brand new business for Lake Region,” he explained. “We are excited to announce that we have partnered with Greater Minnesota Gas to bring natural gas to the Parkers Prairie and Deer Creek areas for the first time.”
View a video clip: Natural Gas
At the end of the business meeting, two LREC linemen took the stage to share about their recent trip to Haiti. A video was shown highlighting their experience volunteering with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s International Program. The linemen concluded their presentation by thanking members of the board and their fellow employees for the opportunity to travel to Haiti and help bring the gift of light.
View the Haiti video here: Haiti: Giving the Gift of Light