You may not have seen Minnkota Power Cooperative’s new building in the western part of Grand Forks, but you’ve probably heard about it. It’s going to be a big improvement for them, and it was necessary to address some important compliance issues that would have been too costly to upgrade. At the same time, the process of building this new facility has confirmed something that I’ve always suspected: most people aren’t quite sure what the relationship is between Nodak and Minnkota Power.
How do I know this? Because I get asked about Minnkota Power – a lot. People get especially confused because both Nodak Electric and Minnkota Power have their headquarters in Grand Forks. As a result, everyone from cooperative members to state lawmakers assume that Minnkota Power is (A) a competitor to Nodak Electric; (B) a power plant or (C) the owner of Nodak Electric – or vice versa.
Actually, that last one isn’t too far off. And neither is option B for that matter. You see, Minnkota Power is a cooperative – just like Nodak Electric. However, while Nodak Electric is a co-op owned by electricity users, Minnkota Power is a co-op owned by electrical co-ops, so Nodak is actually one of the owners of Minnkota.
I know that sounds a little strange, but there’s a good reason for it. In 1940, Nodak Electric and several other co-ops from eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota joined together to create Minnkota Power in order to provide generation and transmission services to its members. Along the way, Minnkota Power also agreed to supply electricity to 12 nearby municipalities (Park River and Grafton are two in our service area). To best serve its member-owners and its municipal partners, Minnkota Power today owns and operates the Milton R. Young Station power plant near Center, N.D. In addition, its “energy generation portfolio” includes electricity from three area wind farms, the Garrison Dam and the Coyote power plant near Beulah, N.D. To deliver all of this energy, Minnkota Power maintains more than 3,300 miles of transmission line and more than 250 substations! So, in simple terms, Minnkota generates the electricity and delivers it to Nodak’s service area over high-voltage transmission lines. Substations then lower the voltage to our distribution level and Nodak brings the power from the substations to our member-owners. You see, Nodak Electric and Minnkota Power are separate entities with the same mission: to give you the safest, most reliable and affordable electricity possible.
You should feel proud to be an owner of both Nodak Electric and Minnkota Power! Together, roughly 150,000 residential and commercial users (across nearly 35,000 square miles) benefit from Minnkota’s services. You may not have known you were part of such a powerful team, but that doesn’t change the importance of this strong partnership.
Let me know if you have any other questions about Minnkota Power. I’m always happy to explain how the two organizations work together to serve us all.