Lake Region Lineworkers Help Restore Power in Florida
After learning about the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma, Lake Region Electric Cooperative lineworkers Josh Haus, Lucas Bakken, Jed Evenson, and Ethan Kern knew they wanted to help. On Sunday, September 10 the group of four joined up with 10 other lineworkers from Minnesota electric cooperatives and started the trip southward. Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative, located in the northern part of Florida, maintains over 4,300 miles of distribution lines. Out of 26,000 SVEC customers, an estimated 23,000 were without power in the wake of Hurricane Irma. “By the time we left a week later, power on their system was 98 percent restored. The only people who still didn’t have power were those who needed electric work done,” says Haus. After a full week in Florida, the Minnesota crew arrived back home on Thursday, September 21. The lineworkers said they were excited to get back to their families, sleep in their own beds, and catch up on projects back home. They expressed their thankfulness for the opportunity to help people in need, unanimously agreeing that, “It’s good to go, but also so good to get back.”
Lake Region Expands Access to Home Energy Upgrades for Residential Members
Lake Region Electric Cooperative has joined with National Cooperative Bank (NCB) to help expand member access to solar and home energy upgrades at members’ homes. Through the effort, residential members will be able to finance their purchase of home energy products with a loan from NCB. These loans are available to LREC members interested in products such as GoWest Solar, standby generators, geothermal installations, or even home efficiency projects such as window upgrades and insulation. This provides a flexible option for members to spread their cost over multiple years instead of having to make a large, up-front cash payment.
Operation Round Up Applications Due September 15th
If you have a community project that needs funding, complete the Operation Round Up Funding application form and submit it before September 15th along with supporting documentation for consideration. Operation Round Up is a charitable fundraising program that helps support charitable needs in our service area. Members can choose to “round up” their monthly electric bills to the nearest whole dollar—on average, $6 a year. The trust fund is overseen by a nine-member board of trustees, who are selected to serve by LREC’s board of directors. The board of trustees meets quarterly to review donation applications and select grant recipients.
GoWest Helps Homeowners Get More Out of Solar Energy
With GoWest Solar, members now have the option to purchase small, ground mount solar arrays that will be installed on their own property. The arrays are designed, installed, and maintained by Lake Region Electric Cooperative. One of the unique features of the arrays is their 240-degree southwest alignment which optimizes electricity production during the early evening hours of summer when electric demand is high and market value is greatest.
CEO Message: August 2017 — Important Hurdle Passed with Support of PUC
Lake Region Electric Cooperative marked a great achievement on July 13th when Lake Region Energy Services (our wholly owned natural gas subsidiary) went before a hearing of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). We did a lot of analysis and preparation in advance of the hearing. It paid off. The PUC granted our cooperative an exemption to be considered a small natural gas utility for the natural gas extensions we are building into the Deer Creek and Parkers Prairie communities. This means we will be able to set our natural gas rates at the local level like we do our electric rates. The action puts an official stamp of approval on our efforts to help the residents of these communities with a planned investment of $1.6 million into natural gas infrastructure.
LREC’s Natural Gas Subsidiary Moves Forward with Support of PUC
Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) marked a great achievement on July 13, when Lake Region Energy Services (the cooperative’s wholly owned natural gas subsidiary) went before a hearing of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The PUC granted the cooperative an exemption (docket number G-6977/M-17-186) to be considered a small natural gas utility for the natural gas services it will provide in the Deer Creek and Parkers Prairie communities. This will allow Lake Region to set natural gas rates at the local level, as it does with electric rates. “The action by the PUC puts an official stamp of approval on our efforts to help the residents of these communities with a planned investment of $1.6 million into natural gas infrastructure,” says LREC CEO Tim Thompson. “The Commissioners recognize that Minnesota’s electric cooperatives have done a lot of good for the state’s rural residents throughout the years.” Thompson continues, “They also seemed pleased with Lake Region’s willingness to use the expertise gained from our 80 years in the electric distribution business and apply it to the natural gas business. The outcome is a significant step forward for Lake Region and affirms that we are leading the curve in providing energy services.” Construction on the natural gas distribution infrastructure began in the spring of 2017. The cooperative expects to have gas flowing by this August.
Co-ops Meet Conservation Goals Despite Challenges
Throughout the last decade, Great River Energy and many of its member cooperatives have successfully achieved meeting the annual energy savings goals and conservation spending requirements established by the Minnesota Legislature. Beyond the 700 million kilowatt-hours in energy savings at the distribution cooperative level since 2010, Great River Energy has realized significant savings at its generation and transmission facilities. Its 28 member cooperatives surpass their energy savings goals by regularly engaging consumers and working to identify cost-effective energy efficiency investments.