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Leading the Charge

Electric vehicles gaining traction in ND

In 2017, an electric vehicle (EV) charging program became available for the first time to Nodak Electric members. This program is designed to save electric vehicle owners money through a lower electricity rate for battery charging units that are hard-wired and off-peak controlled. Read on for more information.

While it may have seemed futuristic only a few years ago, electric vehicles are beginning to gain traction in North Dakota. Rapid advancements in battery technology now provide drivers with cost-effective vehicles that offer 100 to 300 miles of range per each charge.

The ability to save money is one of the major draws of electric vehicles. Charging with electricity is equivalent to less than $1 per gallon gasoline. If you participate in Nodak Electric’s off-peak charging program, the cost could be less than 65 cents per gallon. Electric vehicles also require significantly less maintenance. There are no oil changes, belts, air filters, spark plugs or other parts that need occasional replacement in a gasoline-powered vehicle.

One big question for many consumers in North Dakota is how electric vehicles perform in cold climates. Both gasoline and electric vehicles have lower efficiencies at colder temperatures. For EVs, cold weather can impact the distance you can travel per charge by 25 to 50 percent. Larger batteries, however, have less performance loss issues. Still, today’s EVs work well in cold climates. It is recommended that you store your EV in a garage during the winter and allow it to heat up while still plugged in. This will improve the battery range.

Nodak Electric members also get the satisfaction of knowing that they are charging with homegrown North Dakota energy. All of the electricity delivered to Nodak is generated by in-state resources, including coal, wind and hydro. By using electricity, you are supporting the cooperative that you own and the economy of your state.

Charging your EV

Charging times vary based on the vehicle and voltage of the charging station. Drivers can charge their electric vehicles through a standard 120-volt outlet, although it takes significantly longer (15-20 hours) than other charging options. Using 240-volt service, a dead battery can be fully charged in approximately two to four hours. Lastly, Direct Current (DC) quick charging is available at some gas stations and along major transportation corridors. On average, the DC charger can add 40 miles of range for every 10 minutes of charging.

Installing a home charger

You’ll charge your electric vehicle at home almost every day. Why not pay less every time you plug in?

The installation of a 240-volt charger qualifies you for a $50 per kilowatt (kW) rebate (maximum $500) and the money-saving off-peak charging rate. The off-peak program allows for the control of certain loads (most commonly heating and water heating) during periods of peak electrical demand. The financial savings realized by controlling loads are distributed back to the consumer through the off-peak electric rate, which is lower than the standard electric rate.

In exchange for the lower rate, electric vehicle charging times are limited to off-peak hours. During October through May, charging can be done from noon to 5 p.m., and from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. In the summer months, charging is available from midnight to 10 a.m. With only a few hours needed to completely charge an empty battery, most consumers are not inconvenienced by the limited charging times.

Public charging on the rise

Public charging options are increasingly becoming available in North Dakota and Minnesota lakes country. According to www.plugshare.com, a national online charging station locator, there are approximately 18 public charging options in North Dakota, with more planned for 2018. The Detroit Lakes and Bemidji areas also feature multiple public charging stations.

In Nodak’s service area, the new Minnkota Power Cooperative building features a free 240-volt charging station for public use.

Energy services is here to help

If you have questions about electric vehicles or are interested in installing a charging station in your home or business, contact Nodak Electric’s energy services team at 746-4461 or 800-732-4373. They will be able to assist with rebate questions and provide insight into technical requirements.

 

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AMI

Advanced Metering Infrastructure marks 10 years

This year marks the tenth anniversary of a fully commissioned Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system at Nodak Electric Cooperative. More commonly referred to as Automated Meter Reading (AMR) System, AMI is an integrated system of smart meters, communication networks and data management systems enabling two-way communication between Nodak and its members. What started out as a means to obtain monthly meter readings now plays a vital role in serving the member and Nodak in many ways.

Nodak uses a power line carrier-based solution called Two-Way Automated Communication System, through ACLARA Technologies LLC (TWACS). Commands are sent from Nodak’s office in Grand Forks through the internet and radio systems to various substations within the service area. Substation equipment passes information back and forth with the member’s meter through the power line. The Cooperative’s meters do not use radio frequency to communicate information and only transmit information for up to 20 seconds upon request.

Expecting two years to complete, the first meter was installed in July 2007 and the system fully commissioned in December 2008 after 17 months, and enlisted the help of Nodak’s line workers, technicians, engineers and member and energy services personnel.

Each day, the electric meters are read at or near midnight and three or more additional times for hourly or 15-minute kilowatt-hour (kWh) energy interval data. A meter can also be read real-time when needed, at any given time to check a reading or on a day when service is being transferred. Before AMI, meters were read by Nodak members (self-read), contract meter readers and line workers. Sending an accurate bill was a challenge if meter readings were read on different days each month, not read for extended periods of time or estimated. Invoices sent to members with self-read meters were billed at a 30-day delay causing more confusion. Now, Nodak sends a current bill for one month of usage, which has greatly reduced member confusion and, consequently, call volume and office visits. In addition, Nodak is no longer required to access the member’s property or inconvenience them for monthly meter readings.

Five years ago, a meter data management system (MDMS) was added to store meter data and create reports. MDMS stores hourly or 15-minute energy usage (kWh) values depending on the meter in service. Collection of interval data is important to Nodak for engineering studies, to verify off-peak electric heating systems are shed during control events and in assisting members with usage concerns. Nodak makes MDMS information available to members via SmartHub to track and manage electrical energy usage.

AMI has been a big help during outage restoration. As calls come in from members without power and entered into the outage management system, meters are “pinged” or asked to respond back to verify where power is present in the circuit, directing line workers to begin their work. When a line segment has been repaired and put back into service, meters are pinged again to look for other individual outages. Members can log onto Nodak’s website, www.nodakelectric.com, and click on “Outages” at the top of the page to view areas out of power during extended outages. What AMI cannot do is determine if a member has lost power past the meter, or in the secondary wiring circuit. Since meters cannot report back to the office during a power outage, it is still important for members to call in their outage to Nodak as soon as possible.

The greatest benefit of AMI, from the member perspective has been access to their own meter usage data anytime and anywhere. By logging onto SmartHub through personal computer or mobile device, members can view energy usage data in either hourly or 15-minute intervals (depending on type of meter installed). Members can view daily, weekly or monthly usage to better manage their energy consumption or track performance of energy conservation measures. In addition, current billing period usage can be viewed and compared to past billing periods for members to view how their usage is trending.

 

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Be Fire Prevention Smart

Don’t get burned!

Electricity usually makes life easier by powering kitchen appliances, gadgets and electronics we use for entertainment. However, that same electricity contains the potential to destroy homes and take lives. Electric fires are more destructive than any other type of fire, and they are twice as deadly. Safe Electricity has the following information to help you keep your electric system safe.

  • Consider getting an electric inspection of your home, especially if it is an older home or you have never had an inspection.
  • If an electrical fire starts in your home, do not use water to extinguish it. Water conducts electricity, and you could get an electric shock. Use an extinguisher that is approved for use on electrical fires.
  • Flickering lights, warm, cracked or sparking outlets all indicate electrical problems.
  • If circuits trip, fuses blow or someone gets a shock, your home has an electrical problem. Get an electric inspection.
  • Do not overload outlets, use an extension cord as a permanent wiring solution, or use light bulbs that are not rated for the socket.
  • Contact an electrician about installing an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI). An AFCI monitors the flow of electricity in your home. If the flow of electricity is irregular and could cause a fire, the AFCI shuts off electricity.
  • Inspect electrical plugs and cords annually. If they are frayed or cracked, repair or replace them. Do not place cords under rugs, or staple or nail them to the wall.

Source: safeelectricity.org

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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

2017 Annual Report

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