Committed to Safety — CEO Column: May 2018
Since their inception, electric cooperatives have acknowledged that operating safely is a priority. In fact, safety is an imperative. In our business there is absolutely no room for allowing compromising situations or taking shortcuts. It is Lake Region’s obligation to provide you with electricity in a manner that is safe. Just as important is our commitment to provide our employees with a safe workplace. Lake Region Electric Cooperative’s workplace extends along 5,746 miles of distribution power lines.
LRES Bringing Natural Gas to Dent and Miltona
After successfully delivering natural gas service to the communities of Deer Creek and Parkers Prairie last year, Lake Region Energy Services (LRES) will be growing its operation this spring. The plan is to expand off of the initial project and extend natural gas lines south of Parkers Prairie to the Miltona area and, in partnership with Greater Minnesota Transmission, extend south from the Viking pipeline east of Vergas to Dent. “We believe this expansion will create a new revenue stream for Lake Region Electric Cooperative,” says LREC Board Chair Charles Kvare. “It will result in positive rate benefits for all electric cooperative members, no matter where they are geographically located, because the natural gas utility operations will be offsetting costs of the electric cooperative.” Lake Region has gone from approximately $250,000 a year of non-operating income just over a decade ago to more than $1 million of non-operating income today. Embracing new and diverse revenue streams, like natural gas, helps provide members with more stable, lower electric rates. As a subsidiary of Lake Region Electric Cooperative, LRES was formed in 2017 through a working partnership with Greater Minnesota Gas. As LREC CEO Tim Thompson explains, the cooperative decided to step into the natural gas business after observing other companies bringing natural gas into LREC’s service territory. “Strategically, we decided to take a proactive approach,” he says. “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 see this as an opportunity to grow the cooperative.”
Recap of District Meetings — CEO Column: March 2018
Thank you to all the members who attended our three recent District Meetings. It was wonderful to have your participation. Each of the three incumbent directors were nominated for re-election. Much of our focus during these meetings centered on rates and reliability. It is understandable and expected that our co-op member-owners will always rank these as top priorities. Let me assure you that they are also a priority for me, your directors, and our employees. It was a pleasure to report that we have great news on both fronts. Rate stabilization is a key component of our long-range strategic planning. Success comes with creating opportunities for growth, controlling costs and simultaneously developing new revenue streams.
Be Cautious of Salespeople Pitching Energy Savings From Radiant Barriers
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The Minnesota Department of Commerce and Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) are warning Minnesotans to beware of salespeople who pitch radiant barrier products as an energy-saving feature in home attics. The high-pressure sales pitch is often made in conjunction with a free dinner. “Radiant barriers are not a cost-effective way to reduce heating or cooling loads in Minnesota,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Radiant barriers in attics may be valid for homes in southern states, but they save very little energy in Minnesota homes. They are not a good energy investment and can be a very bad deal for Minnesota homeowners.”
Local Governance & Regulatory Authority Recognized — CEO Column: February 2018
You’ve likely heard the term Distributed Generation or DG. DG refers to generally small-scale electric generation facilities (for instance, a solar panel or wind turbine) that is privately-owned and located at or near where its electric output will be used. These DG sites are often also connected to the distribution utility’s grid. The rules and regulations pertaining to DG interconnection were addressed during the 2017 Minnesota Legislative Session. Discussion centered around what regulatory body is responsible for the conditions of interconnection, rates, metering, contracts and agreements, and so forth. Should it rest with the Minnesota Public Utility Commission (PUC)?
Operation Round Up Awards Over $33,000 to Local Groups
More than one hundred local organizations recently received funds through Lake Region Electric Cooperative's Operation Round Up Program. A total of $33,050 was awarded to support a variety of organizations within the co-op's service area. The funds were distributed by the Operation Round Up Board of Trustees at a January 8th meeting. Beneficiaries include local 4-H clubs, fire departments, food shelf pantries, post prom committees, local college and high school scholarship foundations, county fairs, and community festivals. Funding to area food pantries will be sent in March to optimize matched donations during Food Share Month.