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Smart Grid Technology To Improve Reliability, Benefit Nodak Members

In its nearly 70 years of operation, the Cooperstown substation has powered it all.

The facility helped bring electricity out to farms and ranches in the early 1950s. It energized the development of Minuteman Missile sites during the Cold War. And it stayed stride for stride with our demand for energy in a digital world.

This fall, the substation is set for a well-earned retirement. The aging equipment will be replaced with a new, modern substation to meet the area’s long-term energy needs.

Substations, those collections of wires and transformers you see behind chain-link fences, raise the voltage of electricity at a power generation facility for efficient transmission over long distances, then lower it so it can be safely used in homes and businesses. Nodak receives power at the substation from Minnkota Power Cooperative, its wholesale power provider, and then brings it out to its member-consumers.

“The existing Cooperstown substation was basically at its maximum capacity,” said Jay Bushy, Minnkota’s lead engineer on the project. “If Nodak would have had additional load out there, we wouldn’t have been able to provide for it without expanding the substation.”

Once the new substation is energized later this year, the existing substation will be decommissioned, the equipment will be removed and the site restored to its original condition with grass planted. The entire project is estimated to cost $900,000.

Minnkota operates and maintains more than 250 substations on behalf of Nodak and 10 other electric cooperatives in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Initiating the rebuild of an existing substation or replacing equipment goes through a meticulous review process where age, location, system demand and many other factors are considered. A construction work plan is developed on an annual basis and approved by a board consisting of representatives from the 11 Minnkota member cooperatives.

Real-time data

The new Cooperstown substation provides significant benefits in terms of communication and reliability, Bushy said. An upgraded computer system, known in the industry as SCADA, will help gather and analyze data, while also monitoring and controlling equipment processes remotely. It is part of a long-term upgrade project to add smart grid technology at the older substation sites. All new substations have the technology in place.

“We’ll be better able to isolate outages and switch lines on and off,” Bushy said. “That’s a benefit to Nodak and its members.”

Smart grid technology has been added this summer at the Robbin substation (near Drayton), Depuy substation (near Grafton) and Adams substation (west of Park River) in Nodak’s service area. The goal of these projects is to replace the meters and regulator panels with state-of-the-art technology that will provide real-time communication back to Minnkota’s Energy Control Center.

By receiving real-time data from the substations, personnel can more quickly respond to outages and other power quality issues.

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Maintaining Geographic Diversity

I’m sure you are aware that Nodak’s service territory is divided into three separate districts, with three of our nine board members residing in each district. This is done for several reasons, but most importantly it ensures a certain degree of geographic diversity among our board members.

This geographic diversity spreads our board members throughout our service area. That increases the chance there will be a board member you know, live near, or interact with occasionally. It also increases the likelihood that the board will more closely match the diversity of our membership. The life experiences and perspectives that come from raising livestock in the western part of our service area may be somewhat different from that gained by raising sugar beets in the northern Red River Valley, dealing with the rising water near Devils Lake, or the congestion of a larger city in the east. Member districts guard against one area dominating the board and falling to special interests or just losing touch with our membership.

With the goal of maintaining that geographical diversity, from time to time our board reviews the makeup of the three districts and makes adjustments to their boundaries. Our bylaws require that “the cooperative service territory shall be divided into three substantially similar districts based on member population.” While we do experience growth throughout our service area, the growth around the population centers has a tendency to skew the numbers toward the more populated areas. In an effort to reestablish parity between the districts, your board has adjusted the district boundaries ahead of our next board election.

To accomplish this, each of the three districts were modified slightly to bring the member population substantially equal again. The map on this page shows the new districts that will be used for our next board of director election in April. If you live close to the new district boundaries and are unsure which district you live in, feel free to call the cooperative headquarters and we will be happy to assist you in determining which district you are part of.

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Celebrate Co-op Month!

By providing the electricity that powers your home, farm or business, cooperatives play a role in your daily life. As we observe Co-op Month in October, electric cooperative members should be proud of the success of the cooperative business model and the spirit of cooperation these organizations promote. Cooperatives are a true example of grassroots involvement because cooperatives are owned and controlled by those they serve.

Look across North Dakota’s landscape and you’ll notice cooperatives improve our quality of life everywhere. Electric cooperatives bring light to our lives, cool our food and heat our homes.

So, when you turn on a light, or power up your computer, remember your electric cooperative is standing behind you each and every day.

Co-ops are community-led

October is National Co-op Month, which is the perfect time to highlight the many ways electric cooperatives are unique.

Cooperatives are locally governed, looking out for the long-term needs of their consumer-members.

Co-ops are a catalyst for good

Electric co-ops are a catalyst for good in their communities. Co-ops engage their consumer-members to do things that might otherwise be impossible or difficult, like more than 75 years ago when electric co-ops brought power to areas where other utilities did not find it economically feasible.

Cooperatives exist to meet a need that was previously unmet in the community, and they are ever striving to anticipate and plan for the future needs of their consumer-members.

Electric cooperatives often partner with local groups to bring economic opportunity to their local community. It is this facilitation role that is often the most valuable strength of the co-op.

The co-op business model is unique. It is pragmatic, mission-oriented and puts people first. Co-ops strive to be a trusted voice in their communities. Co-ops have earned that trust because, while not perfect, they always have their members’ best interest at heart and are determined to enrich the lives of those living and working in the communities they serve – now and in the future.

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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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