2020 In Review

Nodak installed a first-in-the-community electric vehicle (EV) fast charging station. The charger will make EV travel easier across the region.

A new online application process was initiated to help members start, stop or move service.

Nodak’s new system allows dispatch to quickly assess an outage and dispatch crews while providing up-to-date information about the outage situation.

Nodak offers rebates to encourage load development, load retention and wise use of energy.

Nodak and its members help the community with a variety of projects, programs and life-improving purchases.

Nodak is using a new aft er-hours call center to help maintain continual member service.

In 2020, Nodak returned $2 million in capital credits to its members.

Nodak teamed up with Minnkota Power Cooperative to deliver meals to health care workers at Altru as a thank you for their work and dedication during the pandemic.

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Message To Our Members

We cannot tell you how disappointing it is that we are announcing, for the second year in a row, we will be holding a business-only annual meeting, with only mail-in ballots and no in-person gathering. The days when we can comfortably bring you all together in one room to celebrate the business of the cooperative are on the horizon, but without knowing how long it will take to do so safely, your board of directors made the difficult decision to wait until next year to hold an in-person meeting. We all sincerely hope that the annual meeting we have next year will be back to business as usual, with a bigger and better meeting than ever.

2020 was a year most of us would like to move on from. Between the global health pandemic that has affected us in so many ways, and the social, cultural and economic challenges facing us right now, I think we can safely say we are all looking forward to better years in front of us. In many ways, 2020 was not a great year for your cooperative, but there are certainly some bright spots to reflect on and be thankful for. We fought our way through the obstacles and eventually ended up with kWh sales down 5.5% from the previous year, but were able to end the year within our targeted financial metrics and post a net margin of $5.03 million. We met all our financial goals and exceeded all our fiscal obligations. Most importantly, we were able to deliver the power you needed in a safe and reliable manner.

We are happy to say that for 2020, we were able to hold the line on retail rates for the fourth year in a row. The importance of keeping rates down for our member-owners cannot be overstated. Our team works diligently to keep expenses in check so more of your hard-earned dollars stay in your pockets where they belong.

In March 2020, like you, we had to adapt due to the changes brought on by the pandemic. At a time of uncertainty, our focus was clear: keep our group healthy so the lights stayed on. We quickly and safely established new working practices to limit the potential health risks to our employees. It was clear, even in altered times, we had to be there to provide service to our members. We are happy to report it was mission accomplished.

We made adjustments to protect our employees when the pandemic hit and to ensure we were here to provide for the needs of the membership. Some of those measures have been a big success and will continue to be part of our regular offering of services. Early last summer, we developed additional online resources to help members sign up for services or make adjustments to their services. Those inclusions will continue to be a regular mainstay. To better serve our members after hours, we changed our dispatching service to a 24-hour service staffed with multiple stations. Now, when you call after regular business hours to report a problem, you will know right away if we have a previously reported problem in your area, saving you time on the phone and providing more detailed information about the situation.

Continuing our commitment to stay up to date on the modern uses of electricity, we installed the first Level 3 fast charging station for electric vehicles in our service area. Because of a grant from the state of North Dakota, we were able to install the station for a fraction of the total cost. As we plan for the future, we will continue to make investments in technology and reliability. We currently have an adequate source of wholesale power to meet the needs of our growing membership and more. However, future state and federal policies could impact the ability to stay the course with the diverse mix of generation we currently enjoy. Because of this, we stay intimately involved in our wholesale power provider’s generation resource planning and support their approach to utilizing all of North Dakota’s abundant natural resources to provide the power we need.

In a cooperative like Nodak Electric, you are a member-owner of the business. One of the major differences between a cooperative and an investor-owned utility is that you earn an ownership stake in the business through purchasing power from us called capital credits. Those dollars are used by the cooperative to operate the business and are eventually retired and returned to you in the form of a bill credit. In keeping with your board’s commitment to this business model, in 2020 your board of directors approved the retirement of $2,000,000 in capital credits. In all, that totals $7.75 million your cooperative has returned to current and past members in the last five years.

While there were many changes in 2020 and in early 2021, our commitment to you, our members, has not and will not change. It is obvious that working together is key to our success as a cooperative and that is why you are an important part of the cooperative business model. Without your support, your feedback and your appreciation, Nodak’s success would not be possible. Thank you for your participation in the cooperative and thank you for the opportunity to serve our membership over the last year. It has truly been a privilege to serve you and on behalf of the entire board and management team at Nodak, I am happy to say your cooperative is in a good position for the future.

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Small Change Makes A Big Difference

Operation Round Up® is a program that rounds up members’ monthly electric bills to the next whole dollar amount. The resulting funds are put into a special account to assist others in need. The funds collected through Operation Round Up are used for a variety of projects, programs and items throughout the Nodak service area.

The Round Up board meets quarterly and considers each application that has been received since the previous meeting. It awards funds to the applicants based on how well the application fits the original funding guidelines: 1) Individuals or families in crisis; 2) Services – ambulance and fire; 3) Community youth needs with emphasis on permanent benefit; 4) Scholarships with emphasis on re-education of displaced agricultural people; 5) Senior needs with emphasis on permanent benefit; and 6) No requests for funding of utility and space heating energy will be accepted.

Operation Round Up is a voluntary program with roughly 60% of the 14,962 members participating. Since the program started, a total of $985,466 has been distributed to individuals and organizations throughout the Nodak Electric service area.

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Treasurer’s Report

As treasurer for Nodak Electric Cooperative, and on behalf of all the directors and employees of Nodak, thank you for your patronage in 2020. Aside from weather variables, electricity is a commodity that lends itself to stable usage amongst our rate classes on an annual basis. However, with the pandemic occurring in 2020, we noted a shift in the rate class usage pattern. The General Service rate category became even more important to our finances during the year, offsetting the notable decrease in our Commercial and Industrial sales. Despite the challenges beyond our control, we ended the financial year with the ability to meet our financial goals and on the next page, you will note some of the highlights. If you would like more detail for the numbers presented, please do not hesitate to contact our office for assistance.

Total revenue for the 1.069 billion kWh sold was $100.4 million. Other operating revenue added $1.7 million for a total reported revenue of $102.1 million. Total expenses were $99.1 million, the largest expense being wholesale power costs at $83.2 million. Additionally, nonoperating margins added $2.1 million, with a total reported margin of $5.03 million for 2020. Once again, a capital credit retirement of $2 million was completed in April 2020, continuing a consistent retirement pattern by Nodak. Thank you again for your patronage and for allowing us to serve your electricity needs during the past year.

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Rate Structure Change Effective April 1, 2021

Beginning April 1, the “Renewable Surcharge” rate component charge, as labeled on the monthly bills of $0.004/kWh, will be combined with the existing energy charge for General Service – Farm, Rural Residential, Small Commercial, Urban, High Density and Off-Peak rate classes and be discontinued as a separate rate component. The new combined energy rate will be $0.104/kWh, but does not represent an increase for said rates. A mailed rate change notification was sent to all commercial and industrial members in December.

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Are You Wasting Your Money On Dirt?

Dirty air filters cause a heating and cooling system to work harder and break down faster. That’s because unfiltered dust and grime works into parts, creating friction that causes unnecessary wear and eventually failure.

How much does a dirty air filter cost you?

  • Reduced air flow in the home, leading to up to 15% higher operating costs
  • Leads to costly duct cleaning or replacement
  • Lowers system efficiency

To avoid these expenses, change filters monthly when your heating and cooling system’s in regular use. Discuss cleaning the unit and ductwork with your heating and cooling service professional.

Source: High Performance HVAC, U.S. Department of Energy

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Program Offers Heating Assistance

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps eligible low-income families with home heating costs.

What the program covers

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been established to help qualifying low-income homeowners and renters pay for a portion of their primary heating costs for the winter heating season Oct. 1, 2020, through May 31, 2021.

The assistance is based on household income, household size, type of housing and type of fuel: natural gas, electricity, propane, fuel oil, coal, wood or other fuel sources.

The program also covers:

  • Weatherization services (insulation, weatherstripping around doors and windows, etc.)
  • Furnace cleaning, repair and replacement
  • Chimney cleaning and inspection
  • Emergency assistance

Who qualifies

Eligibility is based on a household’s income to ensure help goes to those most in need. Both homeowner and renter households are eligible for the program. Individual tribal LIHEAP programs serve tribal members living on reservations in the state.

How to apply

Contact your local human service zone office (formerly called county social services). Go to http://www.nd.gov/dhs/locations/countysocialserv/index.html.

To find more information on LIHEAP or to request an application, go to http://www.nd.gov/dhs/services/financialhelp/energyassist.html.

Ask your county worker about other financial opportunities.

Applications will be accepted until May 31, 2021.

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Operation Round Up Changes Lives

Operation Round Up® is a program that rounds up members’ monthly electric bills to the next whole dollar amount. The resulting funds are put into a special account to assist others in need. The funds collected through Operation Round Up are used for a variety of projects, programs and items throughout the Nodak service area. The Round Up board meets quarterly and considers each application that has been received since the previous meeting. It awards funds to the applicants based on how well the application fits the original funding guidelines: 1) Individuals or families in crisis; 2) Services – ambulance and fire; 3) Community youth needs with emphasis on permanent benefit; 4) Scholarships with emphasis on reeducation of displaced agricultural people; 5) Senior needs with emphasis on permanent benefit; and 6) No requests for funding of utility and space heating energy will be accepted.

Operation Round Up is a voluntary program with roughly 60% of the 14,961 members participating. Since the program started, a total of $985,446 has been distributed to individuals and organizations throughout the Nodak Electric service area.

2020 Recipient Summary of Operation Round Up

  • Briton Coppdege – funds will assist with the purchase of medical equipment.
  • Michael Dorsher – funds will assist with the purchase of a hospital-type bed.
  • Fayme Stringer Henry – funds will help create a community garden and orchard space where people can come together from all walks of life to socialize, garden and learn self-sufficiency skills.
  • Alverna LaPorte – funds will help offset the cost of handicap renovations to her home.
  • Pembina County Backpack program – funds will help supply hungry youths with easy-to-prepare meals and snacks for the weekend. The program is solely funded on monetary donations.
  • Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota – funds will help the program offer information/resources and gain community engagement and insight to address the needs of local community members who have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • Collin LaVallie – funds will assist with the cost of a handicap lift for his family vehicle.
  • Clara Beaton – funds will assist with the cost of an interactive whiteboard to help Clara interact virtually and participate in classroom group activities.
  • Farm Rescue – funds will support the Farm Rescue mission of helping family farms and ranches continue to operate after experiencing major injury, illness or natural disaster.
  • Kennedy Thorsgard – funds will assist with the cost of physical therapy sessions.
  • Valley Senior Living Foundation – funds will help purchase an Eversound group listening system.
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Syncing The Signals

Minnkota, your cooperative’s wholesale power supplier, works to enhance demand response system

There was a lot of buzz in 2020 around Minnkota Power Cooperative’s ripple injection system – the set of equipment that drives the demand response/off-peak program that Nodak Electric is a part of. Two ripple injectors were replaced with new equipment, custom communication technologies were deployed and a full 17-injector system sync was performed for the first time.

Ripple injectors send tens of thousands of electronic signals throughout the entire transmission system and into the distribution system. Receivers in homes and businesses can read the signals, and when the appropriate message is sent, the receivers interrupt the power flowing to an electric heating system, water heater or other controllable load. When control is no longer needed, a signal is sent to turn the electric system back on.

All injectors need to work together and fire at the same time to ensure the signal reaches across the entire 35,000-square-mile system. The process of tuning and syncing the injectors is a combination of art and science.

“Tuning an injector is like tightening the strings of a musical instrument to make sure it vibrates at a certain frequency,” said Nick Gellerman, Minnkota’s lead engineer on the project. “Syncing all the injectors together is like coordinating an orchestra.”

Since Minnkota’s ripple injection system was built in the 1970s, the program has become one of the most successful in the country with more than 55,000 consumers participating, including 5,568 Nodak member accounts. By reducing the demand for electricity during peak usage times, Minnkota and Nodak are able to avoid purchasing costly excess power from the wholesale market, saving money for the membership.

Minnkota has installed two-way ripple monitoring devices at 50 substation sites and, over the next few years, plans to have the devices at nearly all 255 substations. Having this consistent data from the field will help ensure the system is performing reliably. Over the last five years, Minnkota has replaced 10 of the 17 injectors with new equipment. Plans are to have all injectors replaced by the end of 2024.

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Kacie Tretter Joins Nodak Electric

The cooperative recently welcomed Kacie Tretter as the new receptionist. She will be greeting members, answering phones and assisting with billing questions. Kacie is excited about her role at the cooperative and is looking forward to working with and getting to know the members.

An East Grand Forks, Minn., native, Kacie and her husband, Troy, are busy with their two young boys, Hayes and Wesley. In her free time, she enjoys biking with her family on the Greenway bike path and spending time at the lake.

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Three Director Positions Open

Nominating committee members appointed

The board of directors has appointed the committee on nominations. At its meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, at the Nodak headquarters building, 4000 32nd Ave. S., Grand Forks, the committee shall prepare and post a list of nominations for the director positions slated for election.

Committee members are: Doug Mohr, Devils Lake; Daniel Flanagan, Edinburg; Richard Hanson, Grand Forks; Shannon Johnson,
Park River; Neal Klamm, Thompson; Jared Peterka, Forest River; Glenn Rethemeier, Larimore; Paul Retzlaff, Aneta; and Linda Stromstad, Hatton.

Three director positions open

Three director positions will be open at the annual meeting on April 6, 2021. The directors whose terms expire in 2021 are:

  • District 1 – Open
    * Due to Bylaw restriction, members residing in Walsh County may not be nominated for this election.
  • District 2 – David Hagert (incumbent seeking reelection)
  • District 3 – David Brag (incumbent seeking reelection)

Nomination by committee

If you are interested in being nominated or would like to nominate an individual, you may contact a committee on nominations member.

Nomination by petition

Nominations may also be made by petition signed by at least 15 cooperative members. The signed petition must be received at Nodak’s headquarters by Saturday, Feb. 20, to verify nominee qualifications and allow sufficient time for voting by mail.

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Open Director Position In District 1

Every co-op, whether it’s Nodak Electric Cooperative, your credit union or farm cooperative, follows the basic principle of democratic member control. Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members who actively participate in setting policy and making decisions. All these cooperatives work on the same system of one member, one vote. Most often, you are asked to vote and elect individuals who will represent you on the board of directors. These folks are your friends, neighbors and may even be you!

Any member in good standing of the co-op can run for the board. Of our nine board members, three are elected each year at our annual meeting, which means with – only a few exceptions – all members have the opportunity to run for the board each year. This year, we again have three director positions up for election; however, one of our incumbent directors has chosen not to seek reelection. That means we certainly will have at least one new board member when the election is finished. One of those few exceptions is that our bylaws restrict board positions in each district to no more than two from any county. Since we already have two board members in District 1 from Walsh County, members from Walsh County are not eligible to run for election in District 1 this time around. However, all other members in good standing are eligible to run for the board this year. Will it be you?

Being a member of the co-op’s board is an incredibly important position. A director’s decisions will impact issues such as service, rates, work plans and bylaws. These positions hold great responsibility and require men and women who understand our communities’ needs and serve the cooperative members’ best interests.

If you or someone you know are interested in hearing more about how to run for a seat on your cooperative’s board of directors, contact us at the headquarters in Grand Forks and we will help you through the process. Even if you choose not to have that level of participation, you should all feel empowered to reach out to current board members and candidates or encourage your friends and neighbors to participate. When our members are actively involved with the cooperative, we are all better off.

As a cooperative, we invite our members to take an active role. In fact, it is critically important to the survival of the cooperative business model that we use our voices to be heard on the issues that matter to us.

The cooperative business model is a great one – it fosters engagement and creates strong communities. More than 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt recognized this value when he said, “The cooperative is the best plan of organization. Under this plan, every business is governed by a board, every person has one vote and only one vote. Everyone gets profits based on their use of the cooperative. It develops individual responsibility and has a moral, as well as financial value.” Those words are more true today than ever. Let your voice be heard and take the time to participate in your cooperative’s election and your cooperative’s board of directors.

In closing, I would like to thank Paul Sigurdson for his 30 years of dedicated service to our cooperative. Over his tenure on our board, Paul has helped shepherd the merger with Sheyenne Valley Electric Cooperative, represented us on Square Butte’s board of directors, served in various leadership roles on our board and shaped policy that has helped Nodak continue to grow. Paul’s contributions will have lasting effects on Nodak in the years to come. We wish him luck in his next adventure and extend our heartfelt thank you for his years of service on our board.

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