Thinking About Adding Your Own Generation?

Are you thinking about installing a solar panel system, wind turbine or a standby system that can connect to the grid to supplement your power usage? These systems are called distributed energy resource (DER) generation, and you must apply for interconnection with Nodak Electric Cooperative before you move forward with a project. What is interconnect? Interconnect is adding power back safely onto the Nodak Electric Cooperative energy grid.

The interconnect process ensures: 

  • Your system is wired properly.
  • Nodak’s equipment is adequately sized for the project.
  • Safety for you and Nodak personnel working on the power lines.

To get started on your system, please follow the steps below:

  1. Give Nodak a call to discuss your project early in the consideration process.
  2. Complete and send the interconnection application to Nodak’s engineering department. These documents are available online at www.nodakelectric.com. Click on the Technical Resources icon (at bottom of homepage), then Interconnection Process for Generation Systems.
  3. When fully approved, have the project connected by a qualified electrician and certified installer.
  4. Electrical work must be issued a North Dakota wiring certificate.
  5. Notify Nodak when the project is complete for an inspection and testing.
  6. If interconnecting a DER that is a renewable energy system, a separate net-billing agreement is required to receive an energy credit for excess energy delivered to Nodak’s grid.

If you have any questions and are considering a solar, wind or standby system, please call 701-746-4461 or 1-800-732-4373 or email Nodak at DER@nodakelectric.com. 

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National Co-op Month

October is National Co-op Month, making this is the perfect time to reflect on the seven cooperative principles that reflect our core values of honesty, transparency, equity, inclusiveness and service to the greater community good.

  1. Open and Voluntary Membership: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.

  2. Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership.

  3. Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

  4. Education, Training, and Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public about
    the nature and benefits of cooperation.

  5. Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members.

  6. Members’ Economic Participation: Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative.

  7. Concern for Community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities.

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Supporting Our Local Communities

Fall is a busy time, and October is a particularly eventful month with school, community, and sports activities in full swing. It’s also when all cooperatives celebrate National Co-op Month.

When I say Nodak Electric celebrates Co-op Month, it really means we are celebrating you! After all, our co-op wouldn’t exist without you, our members. 

Our core business purpose is to serve as your electricity provider, but the larger mission of the co-op is to help make our corner of the world a better place. “Concern for Community” is one of seven guiding principles that all co-ops share. 

Similar to how our wires run through our service territory, our concern for community flows through all of our decisions – because being a co-op means being a responsible partner and good neighbor. 

Nodak Electric Cooperative works to help our communities thrive through initiatives led by our employees and local board that’s comprised of neighbors who live right here in our communities. Because we’re local, we understand our community’s unique needs and strive to help meet them. 

We’re proud to support local youth through our annual Youth Tour and our Line Worker Scholarship Program. With your help, we offer the Operation Round Up® program, providing assistance to our community’s most vulnerable. We partner with and support the Rural Development Finance Corporation and other business development programs such as the Rural Economic Development Loan Program. 

The word “cooperative” is close to “cooperation,” meaning people working together toward a common goal – mutually benefitting one another and the larger community. That’s the essence of the cooperative spirit. Our employees and member-elected board members are invested in the community in which we live and serve. 

Above all, as a co-op we put our members’ priorities first. As your trusted energy partner, we know that saving energy and money is important to you. That’s why we have numerous programs in place to help, including off-peak electric heat, rebates for electric heating and electric transportation, as well as electric vehicle charging programs.  

We want to empower you to manage energy use at home. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to take a moment and download our app, SmartHub. Through the app, you can conveniently monitor and manage your energy use. And we’re of course here to help, so give us a call if you have questions about your energy bills.

Nodak Electric Cooperative is continuously examining ways to operate more efficiently while continuing to provide the highest level of friendly, reliable service you expect and deserve. After all, we’re your local co-op. We were built by the members we serve. 

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Dual Fuel Members: Please Check Your Backup System

If you have a dual fuel heating system, now is the time to be sure your backup heating system is prepared and that you have adequate fuel supply.

  • Dual fuel heating systems are usually controlled during periods of high demand (such as frigid winter evenings), but other factors such as high market cost can lead to load control as well.
  • Winter season load control time is managed to 300 hours, but could be more
    due to unforeseen conditions.
  • Electric heating load control periods typically occur during early morning and evening peak demand times, however, load control can occur at any time.
  • Participants should expect more control days this winter, with most occurring between December and February.
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What Is Off-Peak?

An off-peak system consists of an electric heating source as its primary component. When Nodak Electric Cooperative has high demand, the electric heat will automatically turn off and a supplemental heating source will need to operate in its place.

Off-peak heating loads are generally controlled during the coldest months of the year when the demand for electricity is high. 

By enrolling in the program, the savings we get on demand charges are passed on to the participating Nodak Electric Cooperative members through the low off-peak electric rate, which is $0.062/kWh – approximately half of the regular retail rate. This rate is extremely competitive with petroleum fuels used for heating. 

Minnkota Power Cooperative, our wholesale power provider, tracks demand peaks and when control is needed, it sends a message via power lines that will reach you by your individually programmed ripple receiver at your home, farm or business and will automatically switch to the supplemental heat source.

There are many options for your off-peak heating installation, but the main requirement is a reliable backup system to ensure you have heat on the coldest days. If you are interested in off-peak, please contact our Energy Services Department at 701-746-4461. 

We want to continue to be able to offer this program for years to come. The way we will be doing that is yearly checks on our off-peak equipment to ensure it is working properly. We will be able to monitor them from the office, which may also require an in-home inspection of the equipment.

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Remembering Harvey Tallackson

Harvey Tallackson, a longtime electric cooperative leader and North Dakota state senator, died on July 27 in St. Paul, Minn. Tallackson, 97, will be remembered as a strong advocate for electric cooperatives and rural citizens in the region. 

Tallackson served on the  Nodak Electric Cooperative board from 1965 to 2010. He also served as Nodak’s representative on the Minnkota board from 1974 to 2010 – including 12 years as vice chairman and 15 years as chairman.

Tallackson was born May 15, 1925, in Grafton, N.D. He served as senator for District 16 in North Dakota’s northeastern corner for 32 years. In addition to public service, Tallackson was active in many organizations in the Grafton and Park River communities.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Glenna, to whom he was married for 73 years. The couple had four children, 13 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.

A funeral service was held at Zion Lutheran Church, rural Hoople, N.D., on Sept. 7, 2022.

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Stay Safe This Harvest Season

As newer farming technologies emerge, causing machinery to get bigger, Nodak is noting more incidents of farming equipment striking poles or contacting overhead lines. This causes dangerous and costly collisions which can occur quickly on the farm.

Earlier this month, Minnkota Power Cooperative dispatched line personnel, along with a Nodak crew, when a large piece of equipment struck and toppled a transmission pole, causing a two-hour power outage to two substations that affected more than 2,000 members. “This is one of many outages Nodak seen just this year,” said Steve Breidenbach, Engineering Manager.

These accidents have caused significant damage to the electric system, and added cost in the thousands, he added.

Grain augers or lifted truck boxes exiting a field can become an excellent path to the ground should you fail to recognize the potential danger of a power line overhead.

  1. Consider any overhead line dangerous. Keep objects at least 10 feet away from power lines.
  2. Inspect your working areas for possible interference with overhead power lines.
  3. Don’t attempt to raise or move electric lines.
  4. Call 811 before digging where power lines are buried.
  5. Report potential power line hazards to Nodak immediately.

These dangerous accidents can be avoided by looking up or planning ahead when operating large farm machinery.

Thank you to all our local farmers for the essential work you do to feed our communities! 

Have a safe and bountiful harvest this season.

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Sounding The Alarm On Grid Reliability

North Dakota, Minnesota at risk of power outages this summer

America’s electric grid has become increasingly unstable – and it could begin impacting Minnkota Power Cooperative’s members this summer.

That’s why Minnkota is joining many of our nation’s grid operators and regulators in sounding the alarm on the vulnerabilities that are affecting power reliability. As the pace of change in the energy industry continues to accelerate, so does the risk of rotating power outages and other extended service interruptions. Minnkota’s eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota service area is no longer immune to the large-scale grid challenges that have been experienced in Texas and California in recent years.

Minnkota takes its responsibility to provide reliable, resilient and responsible electricity seriously. The cooperative has more than enough generating capacity to meet the demands of its members (including Nodak Electric) through its coal, wind and hydro resources. But Minnkota does not operate on the grid alone. Utilities across the Upper Midwest are connected through Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). Emergency events experienced in other parts of the MISO region can and do have impacts back into the Minnkota system.

One of the most significant industry issues is the retirement of baseload and dispatchable power plants – including coal, nuclear and natural gas – without adequate replacements. Wind and solar make up the majority of the new resources being added to the grid, but they are limited by the fact that they are only able to operate intermittently – when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. While Minnkota supports moving toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy future, it is not something that can happen with the flip of the switch. It will take decades of planning and unprecedented technology development to achieve significant carbon reduction.

MISO expresses concerns

Minnkota is not alone in coming to these conclusions. MISO issued a dire warning in April that it does not have enough reliable power plant capacity on its system to meet its projected peak demand this summer. The result is an increasing risk of power outage events. 

Minnkota both buys and sells surplus power in the MISO system, which estimates a 1,230-megawatt (MW) shortfall in power plant capacity to meet its reserve margin. For context, one megawatt-hour (MWh) is enough electricity to serve more than 800 homes with an hour’s worth of power.

“Due in large part to decarbonization goals set by our members and the states in our region, our resource fleet is increasingly reliant on intermittent and weather-dependent resources,” said Wayne Schug, vice president of strategy and business development at MISO. “As this trend continues in the future, MISO needs to evolve the grid, our markets, and our operational capabilities, which is just as complex as it sounds.”

In a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal, MISO CEO John Bear added to this point by saying, “As we move forward, we need to know that when you put a solar panel or a wind turbine up, it’s not the same as a thermal resource.” 

MISO’s peak demand for electricity typically occurs in the summer months during the hottest days of the year. The organization is conducting training and exercises to prepare for worst-case scenarios and is also implementing lessons learned and best practices. Likewise, Minnkota’s energy marketing team is working to ensure it’s ready to respond to volatile market and reliability conditions.

NERC issues grim report

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) – the federal regulatory entity responsible for the reliability of the nation’s electric grid – is also expressing concerns heading into the summer season. According to NERC, MISO is in the “high risk” category, and has the potential of “facing capacity shortfalls in its north and central areas during both normal and extreme conditions due to generator retirements and increased demand.”

NERC’s Summer Reliability Assessment notes that reliability challenges are being compounded by evolving demands on the power grid, which has grown increasingly complex as renewable energy assets are added.

“There’s clear, objective, inclusive data indicating that the pace of our grid transformation is a bit out of sync with the underlying realities and the physics of the system,” said John Moura, NERC’s director of reliability assessment.

Along with the changing power supply mix, NERC also identified extreme weather conditions, high seasonal demand for electricity, supply chain issues and cybersecurity threats as other risks impacting reliability.

What is Minnkota doing?

While there are challenges, Minnkota supports efforts to reimagine how electricity can be produced, delivered and consumed. But the implementation of these ideas must be met with caution and common sense. After all, there is a lot on the line. A resilient and reliable electric grid that affordably keeps the lights on is the cornerstone of the American economy and our national security. Any missteps in an energy transition of this magnitude can have irreversible consequences. 

So, what can be done? Minnkota is only one of thousands of utilities across the country, but it is taking its own steps to protect itself from power reliability challenges.

  • Training and education
    Minnkota’s employees are trained to respond to emergency grid events and continuously work to shield members from the volatility of the grid and markets. The cooperative also invests significant time in helping member-consumers, lawmakers, business interests and others in the general public understand the challenges the industry faces and the complexity in providing reliable power to the region.
  • Maintaining a diverse energy mix
    Minnkota’s energy portfolio consists of a diverse mix of coal, wind and hydro resources. Working together, these facilities help ensure 24/7 reliability on the Minnkota system. Coal-based facilities remain the workhorse of the system and are routinely available to produce power during the vast majority of each year.
  • Upgrading our power delivery systems
    Minnkota is building, upgrading and replacing the power delivery resources that connect its communities. New technologies are being added to Minnkota’s grid to provide enhanced data and communication capabilities – all in an effort to respond more quickly to issues and improve overall reliability.
  • Continuous cybersecurity evolution
    Minnkota continuously works to protect the electric grid from physical and cyber security threats. Energy experts in Minnkota’s Control Center monitor the grid 24 hours a day to ensure the safety of the cooperative’s employees, infrastructure and data.
  • Strategically utilizing demand response
    Minnkota has one of the most robust and effective demand response (also called off-peak) programs in the country. Through the program, Minnkota and its members can temporarily control electric heating, water heating and vehicle charging loads – shifting electrical demand when economical resources are not available.
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Nodak Helps Northern Thunder Air Show Take Flight

More than 13,000 visitors flooded the tarmac of the Grand Forks Air Force Base (GFAFB) on June 18, many toting camping chairs and rocking aviator sunglasses. Flight enthusiasts had traveled from across the region to experience the 2022 Northern Thunder Air Show, including Michael Auker and his family and friends from Devils Lake, N.D.

“We wanted to come look at a bunch of cool airplanes,” Auker said as he waited in line to see the inside of one of dozens of military planes staged on show grounds. “This really gets the kids involved and lets them see the stuff that they usually only see in the sky.”

The event, supported in part by Nodak Electric Cooperative and Minnkota Power Cooperative, was to feature food truck vendors, informational sponsor booths, and a full afternoon of physics-defying flights from airborne acts like the famous Thunderbirds. However, sustained high winds forced every set of wings to remain grounded. 

“Even though the windstorm was a challenge,” said Lea Greene, chief of public affairs for the 319th Reconnaissance Wing, “it was incredible to open the gates to our friends and neighbors to show off their Air Force base, tour aircraft and look at some of the technology we use every day.”

“The GFAFB and the personnel living and working there have been such a big part of our community and the state of North Dakota over the years,” said Nodak Electric CEO Mylo Einarson. “Anything we can do to support them so they can focus on their mission is the least we could do.”

Nodak’s support of the GFAFB doesn’t stop with event sponsorship. The co-op has been a proud partner of the base for decades and, in 2018, signed a utilities privatization (UP) agreement with GFAFB to make Nodak the owner and operator of all of the community’s electric infrastructure. This partnership allows faster, safer, and more thorough electric service to the base’s residents.

“Over the last several years since we’ve become the GFAFB’s utility privatization contractor, our already strong relationship has developed further on more of an individual level with the servicemen and women and their families,” Einarson said.

The base is hoping for better weather for their next air show event, which is tentatively planned for 2025. Until then (and beyond), Nodak will continue to be there to light up the lives of the folks who serve our country. “I’m excited about the future of the GFAFB, and am looking forward to Nodak being a part of it,” Einarson said.

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Electric Vehicles – More Savings, More Convenience, More Fun

Nodak Electric Cooperative members know the benefits of off-peak charging firsthand

First Published October 2021 – Editor’s Note: Nodak Electric Cooperative was saddened to learn of the sudden loss of Tony Telken in 2021 – our hearts are with his family and friends. He was a terrific member of the community and of our co-op. Tony had a passion for cars, and we, with the blessing of his wife Tracy, hope to honor him by sharing that passion with our readers.

It’s safe to say Tony Telken knows cars. He’s the service manager at a Grand Forks Ford dealership, so he understands what makes a well-oiled machine. He also understands some of the best machines don’t need oil. Or gas.

Tony and his wife Tracy with their all-electric 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Early in 2021, Tony and his wife Tracy became the owners of an all-electric 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. They were one of the first 5,000 in the country to reserve one, allowing them to acquire the coveted First Edition model. 

“Everything you read about it is true – it’s spunky, and Tracy is a spunky driver,” Tony said with a nod to his wife. “Just a smidge,” she replied, smiling.

By the time the electric vehicle (EV) rolled into their garage, these Nodak Electric Cooperative members were set up to plug in. Tony had called his cooperative after reading about their off-peak EV charging program and rebates, and Nodak sent a representative to the Telken home to see what they might need in their garage. The couple purchased a charger and an electrician stopped by to route the right wiring. It was a fast process, and the cooperative’s $500 rebate took care of the entire cost of the charging unit.

With a 250-mile range, the Telkens only have to charge the Mach-E once a week. They can do that overnight when electric demand is lower, earning them the reduced off-peak electric rate – approximately half of the standard rate. They barely even notice it on their bill.

“A tank of gas at today’s rate would cost us about $50. And we don’t have that anymore. We’ve probably paid that much in electricity the whole time we’ve had it,” Tony said. “It’s huge savings.”

The Telkens’ EV has already conquered the Grand Forks winter. Each wheel on the all-wheel-drive model has its own electric motor that determines how the car should react. “The traction has been fantastic in the snow. You don’t sit and spin. You GO,” Tracy said. “I had that fear before, and I love it.”

Tony knows auto manufacturers like Ford have spent a lot of time and investment perfecting EV technology for every kind of driver – from vehicle service managers to first-time drivers.

“It’s way easier than you think, and the investment is minimal,” he said. “It’s so nice to drive right by the gas pump.”

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Pole Top Rescue Training

Nodak Electric pole top rescue training was held in June. Training is facilitated through NDAREC (North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives).

Each year our lineworkers, along with the GFAFB airmen, review what to do in the case of an emergency that involves a fellow crew member. At this time, lineworkers re-certify their climbing skills and practice different emergency scenarios. If a lineworker was to have an emergency while climbing a pole, the training would ensure another lineworker would be able to rescue them, lower individuals safely to the ground, and begin first aid. Using different rigging combinations lets the lineworkers practice for a variety of situations. Nodak always puts safety first, and by performing safety training, the cooperative is assuring that our employees are properly trained to handle any situation. 

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