When we gather to celebrate the 76th annual meeting of Nodak Electric Cooperative, you’ll see the theme chosen for our event is “staying connected.” As members of an electric cooperative, staying connected is an important notion. Staying connected with your cooperative by attending the annual meeting, participating in cooperative governance and using the latest technology to do business with your co-op are all ways to assist in ensuring Nodak provides the level and quality of service you desire as an owner.
Staying connected with the other member-owners of your cooperative through meeting attendance, political action committee membership and social media engagement brings us all together as a grassroots advocacy group that has strong influence with lawmakers in Bismarck and Washington, D.C. This co-op connection is an important resource for us as we continue to advocate on behalf of our membership to state and federal leaders and regulators.
In 2015, the EPA issued what’s being considered its most far-reaching environmental regulation ever, the Clean Power Plan. Enacted at the direction of the Obama Administration, the Clean Power Plan calls for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants averaging 32 percent across the United States. Each state was given a target level of reduction to collectively achieve the President’s goal. North Dakota was saddled with one of the highest reductions across the entire country at 45 percent! In light of the fact that more than 30 percent of the power we serve to our members already comes from renewable wind and hydroelectric resources, we feel this federal push away from coal goes too far. Nodak has always supported a resource mix that uses all of North Dakota’s bountiful natural resources in a thoughtful, deliberate way. That is why we continue to fight on your behalf and support the 28 states and dozens of others who are litigating this overly burdensome rule.
Another way we work on your behalf is our efforts to keep rates affordable through sound planning for the future. At the end of 2014, we embarked on a long-range plan to help stabilize your electric rates by creating a revenue deferral plan. Through this plan, $4 million was placed in an account to be used in future years to ease the effects of wholesale power cost increases. In 2015, our wholesale power provider put in place a 5 percent rate increase that would ultimately raise the cost of our wholesale power by $3.1 million in 2015. Half of the revenue deferred from previous years was brought back onto our operating statement in 2015 to help delay the need to pass along that wholesale rate increase to our members. Wholesale power costs make up 85 percent of our total operating costs, so being able to soften the effects of wholesale power cost increases is only possible through this long-term planning. Your retail cost of power from Nodak did not increase in 2015.
Technology continues to play a key role in our efforts to provide information and interaction with our membership. In 2015, we added the pay-by-phone feature where members have 24-hour access to account information and payment options right over the phone. We also added our interactive outage map to our web pages so in the event of service disruption, members with Internet access are able to assess the extent of the problem. These new features are just a few examples of how we continually strive to make connections with your cooperative easy and informative. For quite some time now, members have been able to view and pay bills online, sign up for services, read The Nodak Neighbor and much, much more. Of course, you can always pick up the phone or stop into our office and we will be happy to serve you the old-fashioned way – face to face.
The future looks bright for your cooperative. Although weather created a small dip in sales for 2015, we grew by almost 500 new services and our crews installed more than 210 miles of new line. Steady growth in our membership is the key to keeping costs in check. As costs escalate over time, the ability to share those among a larger, more diverse group benefits everyone. On behalf of the board and the staff at Nodak, we want to thank you for the opportunity to serve the membership and manage our growing cooperative.