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Nodak Brings Data Mining To The Prairie

There may be many things you don’t understand about the concepts of data mining, blockchain and cryptocurrency. But a concept that is easier to digest is load growth, and that is what Nodak Electric Cooperative experienced with the 2021 arrival of three data processing centers in Grand Forks. “The digital asset mining sector is new territory for Nodak Electric Cooperative, and we’re thrilled to be able to energize an industry that is on the grow,” said Mylo Einarson, Nodak president and CEO. “Digital asset mining is changing the way we use digital information in our lives – Grand Forks is becoming a hot spot for that kind of innovation.”

Digital asset mining uses blockchain, a decentralized peer-to-peer transaction ledger that can store all types of digital information. When an entity “mines,” they use powerful computer hardware to solve complex algorithms that confirm the validity of transactions. Those validated transactions are consolidated into “blocks” and then chained together to create a ledger of all verified transactions since the creation of the first block. As an economic incentive for miners who manage and operate the fleets of specialized computer hardware, each block contains a “reward” of cryptocurrency (like bitcoin). This reward is typically two pronged – a “block reward” that is earned for each new block created, and a transaction fee, which are fees charged to users who access the blockchain and submit transactions to new blocks.

The largest of Nodak’s new data processing loads is Core Scientific, one of the nation’s largest blockchain infrastructure providers and digital asset miners. The company’s work requires large facilities filled with specialized computer hardware that continuously mine digital assets – primarily bitcoin – for clients worldwide. To be most effective, that process requires electricity and a cool climate. Grand Forks is able to supply both.

“This environment should allow our operations to experience a higher efficiency ratio over a typical year when compared to our facilities in the southeast and southwest,” a Core Scientific report to Nodak explained. “Additionally, digital mining is uniquely tailored to be able to use excess local grid capacity when local consumers are not using it and curtail when the community’s grid needs increase.”

Core Scientific says it’s pleased to be a new part of the Grand Forks community and is happy to help contribute to the local economy. The new data processing center offers numerous skilled and technical jobs along with positions for managerial, safety and security personnel.

Nodak energized two other Grand Forks data mining projects in 2021 as well. All three centers will have significant power needs. Nodak and Minnkota Power Cooperative worked together in 2021 to ensure the facilities were supported with the reliable electric infrastructure and rate affordability necessary for the companies to find success in North Dakota.

“Electric co-ops must be strong partners with any businesses sharing their lines,” Einarson said. “Collaboration is key to not only economic development, but also sustaining a robust and resilient electric grid for the community.”

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Message To Our Members

2021 turned out to be another year of battling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as we adapted and adjusted to a new way of life. Nodak Electric was no different in that regard. While most others were working in a remote work environment, our employees adapted to the new procedures we put in place for employee and member interactions that ensured that our employees’ and members’ safety remained our number one priority. Reliable power is essential to our lives and our livelihood, so our employees embraced change and worked tirelessly to ensure our members received the level of service they have come to expect.

While the safety of our employees is paramount, the safety of our membership is no less important. Despite the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the early part of 2021, the conditions did not yet lend themselves to public gatherings. Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to cancel our in-person annual meeting for the second year in a row and record messages from our chairman and CEO to our membership. As a result, we employed a mail-only election for our board of directors. Longtime director Paul Sigurdson retired from the board and new director Ryan Benson was elected to serve from District 1. Incumbents David Hagert and David Brag were also reelected to the board.

In a cooperative like Nodak Electric, you are a member-owner of the business. One of the major differences between a cooperative and an investor-owned utility is that through purchasing power from us, you earn an ownership stake in the business called capital credits. These dollars are used by the cooperative to operate our system for a period of time and are eventually returned to you in the form of a bill credit. I’m happy to report that despite the pandemic-related turmoil, your cooperative posted its best year ever with over $10 million in net margin and record sales. Because we had such a successful year, your board of directors increased this year’s capital credit retirement to $3.8 million. Because that level of margin is more than we need to operate, and recognizing the fact that our members have gone through a trying time, the board decided to retire approximately $1.5 million of the total retirement to the current year allocation. In other words, the members who purchased power from us in 2021 will see a portion of their capital credits returned to them immediately and approximately $2.3 million will be retired to the 2003-2004 membership. In all, that totals $11.1 million your cooperative has returned to current and past members in the past five years.

Keeping the price of electricity affordable is extremely important for our members. Our cost to operate the cooperative has remained relatively stable at about 18% of our total expenses. The other 82% represents our cost of wholesale power. These percentages have remained fairly constant over the last several years because of our efforts to contain operating costs, and through the growth of our system.

New loads like the ones featured in this report go a long way toward bringing in the additional revenue needed to overcome the rising costs of doing business. As a result, for 2021 we were able to keep rates unchanged for the fifth year in a row. Our team is committed to keeping our rates as affordable as possible so more of your hard-earned dollars stay where they belong – with you.

2022 holds promise of a return to what we would all consider something more normal. Throughout the pandemic our commitment to you, our members, has not and will not change. Our dedication to serving our member-owners and providing the best energy value in the region is as strong as it has ever been. We are looking forward to meeting the challenges that lie ahead in 2022 and beyond. Our board and management are committed to maintaining a strong cooperative with an emphasis on safety for the public and our employees, and on service reliability and responsive service to our member-owners.

We encourage you to review the information in this report, and we hope to see you at the annual meeting at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks on April 12.

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Since the program started, a total of $1,025,147 has been distributed!

Operation Round Up is a program that rounds up members’ monthly electric bills to the next whole dollar amount. The resulting funds are put into a special account to assist others in need. The funds collected through Operation Round Up are used for a variety of projects, programs and items throughout the Nodak service area.

The Round Up board meets quarterly and considers each application that has been received since the previous meeting. It awards funds to the applicants based on how well the application fits the original funding guidelines: 1) Individuals or families in crisis; 2) Services – ambulance and fire; 3) Community youth needs with emphasis on permanent benefit; 4) Scholarships with emphasis on reeducation of displaced agricultural people; 5) Senior needs with emphasis on permanent benefit; and 6) No requests for funding of utility and space heating energy will be accepted.

Operation Round Up is a voluntary program with roughly 52% of the 15,088 members participating. Since the program started, a total of $1,025,147 has been distributed to individuals and organizations throughout the Nodak Electric service area.

2021 Recipients

Altru Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Aneta Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Binford Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Cooperstown Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Drayton Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Emerado Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Finley Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Fordville Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Hillsboro Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Hoople Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Hope Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Lake Region Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Lakota Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Larimore Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
McVille Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Michigan Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Northwood Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Park River Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Pembina County Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Valley Ambulance & Rescue Squad – $ 125.00
West Traill Ambulance Service – $ 125.00
Briar Coppedge – $ 632.00
Devils Lake Juvenile Drug Court – $ 250.00
Jeffrey Guy – $ 1,145.00
Hillsboro Elementary School (Backpack Program) – $ 500.00
Theresia Hoffner – $ 1,150.00
Collin LaVallie – $ 2,000.00
Brian & Barb Milling – $ 2,000.00
Sameia Mansur Muftah – $ 1,560.00
Shirley Peterson – $ 1,000.00
Kennedy Byfuglien – $ 1,500.00
Central Valley High School – $ 50.00
Devils Lake High School – $ 50.00
Grafton High School – $ 50.00
Grand Forks Central High School – $ 50.00
Hatton/Northwood High School – $ 50.00
Minto High School – $ 50.00
North Border Walhalla High School – $ 50.00
Park River High School – $ 50.00
Thompson High School – $ 50.00
Valley-Edinburg High School – $ 50.00
Sawyer Boese – $ 1,000.00
Kristi Cole – $ 2,500.00
Murika Dawes – $ 350.00
Elizabeth Espling – $ 1,200.00
Kyle Everson – $ 1,000.00
Ronald Helm – $ 1,000.00
Troy Hruby – $ 180.00
Emma Larson – $ 1,000.00
Bruce Martin – $ 1,000.00
Titus Prins – $ 736.00
Leila Roberts – $ 500.00
Hunter Vaske – $ 1,500.00
Aaron & Patience Whitney Family – $ 648.00
Jennifer Wray – $ 197.00
Emma Basting – $ 2,000.00
Rilynn Dahly – $ 1,000.00
Dennis Denault – $ 269.00
Debora Heath – $ 1,000.00
Tami Ostlie – $ 2,000.00
James Ottem – $ 369.00
Jose “Jr.” Patlan – $ 390.00
Miranda Spoor – $ 780.00
James Vaughan – $ 1,000.00
Zoe Vaughan – $ 1,000.00
Veterans Honor Flight of ND/MN – $ 2,200.00

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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

2021 Annual Report

Read more about Nodak Electric Cooperative's year-in-review

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