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Your Co-Op, Your Piece Of The Pie

Capital credit power bill credits and checks totaling $1.3 million were recently issued to our current and former members’ purchasing power from Nodak Electric Cooperative in the year 2000.

The capital credit check or power bill credit that is delivered to you has a long history behind it. It is easier to understand the entire concept of capital credits if you look at the early beginnings of the electric distribution industry in our state. Back in the 1930s and 40s, the Rural Electrification Administration provided the funding necessary to build the power lines into the sparsely populated regions of this country. The challenge was, after the lines were built and electricity was flowing, how do we keep this fledgling electric company afloat and the lights kept on? The concept of capital credits provided that much-needed funding mechanism to keep the cooperative growing.

The early members contributed “capital” to the cooperative by purchasing electricity at a rate that was slightly above the cost to deliver energy to them. That small amount of profit or margin was then retained by the cooperative to help finance the operations for the following year. In a sense, the original members of the cooperative were looking out for the needs of future members by allowing the co-op to retain those margins to build new lines in the years that followed. In return for the usage of those member funds, the cooperative set up a separate account to keep track of how much each member proportionately contributed to the entire margin picture with the intent of someday reimbursing that member, thus the term “credit” was joined with capital.

Time passes by quickly and here we are nearly 80 years after the first power lines were strung. Everything around us has changed, but some things remain consistent. We are still delivering energy to our members at a rate that is just above the cost to deliver it. We still live in a part of the country that is sparsely populated. With continually increasing costs associated with running an electric distribution system, it becomes more of a challenge to pass those costs along to a relatively small membership and still carve out a slight margin.

Still, another unchanged fact is the concept of paying back past members for usage of their working capital, or “capital credits,” in a timely manner. Our Board of Directors has consistently followed the principles of retiring capital credits that were founded back in the 1930s. Due to those spiraling costs and a small growth of new customers, the amount of time from when the capital is contributed by the member to the time he/she is repaid has stretched out to 17 years. In comparison, there are many cooperatives in the United States that are on a 20-25 year cycle and still others that have never retired capital credits.

So, as you can see, the capital credit retirement from Nodak Electric Cooperative that you recently received has historical roots that run deep. It’s just one of the many benefits of doing business with us, and we hope to keep those types of things unchanged.

Tom Edwards, Accounting & Finance Manager

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Lightning Safety

People generally think of lightning damage as what happens at the point where a cloud-to-ground strike hits a tree, structure or elevated wiring. Unless the struck items are protected from lightning, the results of the strike are often visible and lasting. However, the lightning current pulse continues into conductive parts of the structure, cables, and even underground wiring and pipes. Because the initial lightning impulse is so strong, equipment connected to cables a mile or more from the site of the strike can be damaged.

The most common damage arises from a lightning strike to the network of power, phone and cable television wiring. This network, especially if it is elevated, is an effective collector of the lightning surges. The wiring then conducts the surges directly into the residence and to the connected equipment. Lightning can also travel through the ground (soil), reaching underground cables or pipes. This is another route for lightning to come into a building and can also damage the cables.

The second-most common mode results from strikes to or near the external wiring – common to most suburban and rural houses. Air conditioners, satellite dishes, exterior lights, gate control systems, pool support equipment, patios and cabanas, phone extensions, electronic dog fences and security systems can all be struck by lightning. The lightning surges will then be carried inside the house by the wiring.

To take maximum precautions, unplug as many electrical and electronic appliances as possible if there is a storm brewing.

Remember to check both the electric sockets and the telephone and cable television connections. Surge protectors are a good aid in protecting your equipment, but in proportion to the very low risk involved, these can be very expensive. Nothing can withstand a lightning strike – it is best to totally unplug.

Source: lightningsafety.com

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Know What’s Below: Call Before You Dig

No matter how large or small your digging project may be, remember to call 811 before you dig. Calling before you dig will keep you out of trouble with the law. Besides, who wants their neighbors mad at them because they caused a power outage when they dug a hole to plant a tree?

North Dakota One Call provides a single point of contact to both prevent damage to underground utility facilities and to protect public and construction contractors from contact with power, gas, water and communication lines.

For Nodak to locate underground wires, it is required by law for the member to call 811.

Nodak has approximately 4,280 miles of underground cable wire, so if the cable is cut or damaged, that could lead to loss of power for many of our members. It will also result in added cost to the person(s) responsible for the damage. There have been cases of electrocution and severe injuries caused by digging into electric lines that could have been avoided with a simple call to 811.

How do you know whose line it is?

Homeowners should be aware that private facilities such as septic, water, gas lines from a propane tank, private secondary wiring running to an outbuilding or shed, an invisible pet fence or sprinkler systems WILL NOT be marked. In these instances, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure any privately owned underground wires on the member side of the meter are located prior to digging. Electric secondary lines should be located by an electrician. The property owner or tenant is responsible for contacting a private locater and paying the fee for locating private underground facilities.

What are private electric underground facilities?

Private underground facilities, or member-owned facilities, are those facilities that were installed after the meter. Also, if overhead distribution lines serve the property and the power is then distributed on the property by underground service facilities, those service facilities may be considered private. If the homeowner’s electric meter is located on the property line, then that electric line from the meter to the house is considered privately owned and will not be located.

Where are private facilities found?

Private facilities are found everywhere, including single family homes, multifamily housing units, industrial areas, trailer parks, shopping centers and sometimes in the road right-of-way. Other private facilities can include: natural gas farm taps, natural gas or propane gas underground piping to buildings, gas grills, pool heaters, private water systems, data communication lines, underground sprinkler systems, invisible fences and many others.

Unless the property owner participates as a registered facility operator of North Dakota One Call, private or member-owned facilities will not be marked or notified. If you have a question on whether a facility in your excavation area is considered private, please contact that local utility office.

How the 811 process works:
  • Call 8-1-1 to submit a locate request 2-3 business days prior to the project. North Dakota One Call is available 24/7 and the call is free.
  • Wait the required amount of time for affected utility operators to respond to the request. Nodak typically responds to a locate request within 24-48 hours (1-2 business days).
  • Check that all affected utility operators have responded and marked underground utilities. See the color code chart above to know what flag color represents which utility.
  • Respect the flags. Please keep the markers in place until the project is complete.
  • As always, proceed and dig with caution!
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Nodak Electric Cooperative

Nodak Electric Cooperative is dedicated to being an efficient provider of quality electric service with leadership that demonstrates the highest regard for its members/owners.

To report an outage call
800-732-4373 or 701-746-4461

Sept/Oct 2018

The Official Publication of Nodak Electric Cooperative

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