50-year Contract With Air Base Good News For Member Owners

Each time we publish an edition of The Nodak Neighbor, I take that opportunity to utilize some of the space to share information with our member-owners. Those topics vary from some sort of safety-related topic like “Call Before You Dig,” or what to do if your vehicle hits a power pole, to subjects like regulation, voting or getting involved. With this edition, I’m happy to say I get to share some long-awaited good news. On July 1, 2018, Nodak was awarded a 50-year contract to take over the maintenance, repair and replacement of the electric infrastructure at Grand Forks Air Force Base and Cavalier Air Force Station.

The takeover, or privatization, of the Air Base distribution systems should be fairly transparent to the government and to the families that live on the installations. Nodak has been serving the electric needs of both facilities on a bulk basis for quite a long time, and the government or their contractors have been responsible for their systems from the substations to the end users. With this new arrangement, Nodak will be responsible to maintain an adequate distribution system so we can deliver the power all the way to the end user.

We began this process approximately six years ago when we received notice that Grand Forks Air Force Base and Cavalier Air Force Station would be accepting bids for a 50-year contract to privatize their electric, water, and wastewater systems. With the assistance of a consultant that specializes in helping small businesses procure federal contracts, we submitted our proposal and were ultimately awarded the contract.

Over the next five months, we will go through a transition process where we finalize contracts and pricing and prepare personnel and equipment for working on the Bases. Dec. 1, 2018, will be the official start date of the new agreement. From that point on, Nodak will receive a monthly payment for keeping the Base distribution systems working properly. In essence, that means we will go from serving bulk electricity to the installations to doing essentially what we do for all our other members. We will not only provide the power needed, but we will also care for the systems that bring the power to the end user.

Overall, we believe this will provide a safer and more reliable electric service to the government and the families who live and work on the Bases. For our membership, what this means is additional revenue to help take pressure off electric rates and lessen the effect of rising costs. This is a significant event for our member-owners, and we are excited to share this news with you.

Have a safe and enjoyable summer.

Mylo Einarson
President & CEO

Continue Reading »

Youth Tour Winner Visits Washington, D.C.

Sixteen North Dakota high school students returned June 14 from the 54th-annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. They joined more than 1,600 students from around the nation for a fast-paced, intensive week of learning about history and American government, visiting with their state’s congressional delegation, becoming more knowledgeable about the cooperative business model, and touring museums, national monuments and memorials. While on the tour, the students develop leadership skills and a national network of peers. Each year, high school students learn firsthand what it is like to be involved in politics, community development and today’s social issues.

Past participants have described this as “a once-in-a-lifetime” experience. The students are sponsored by their family’s electric distribution cooperative. This year’s participant, Lilly Bina, Park River, represented Nodak Electric Cooperative on the Youth Tour.

Coordination of the Youth Tour is handled by the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC). NDAREC serves as the liaison between the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and the state’s distribution cooperatives. Year after year, the Youth Tour has been followed up with glowing praise from participants; this year was no exception.

Why does Nodak Electric offer this experience to our area youth? Because we realize it is more vital than ever that today’s young people understand and support the rural electrification program, for they are tomorrow’s leaders and consumers.

Education is a fundamental principle of electric cooperatives. Boards of directors and co-op leaders believe it’s imperative to help students understand the democratic process and gain the skills necessary to become leaders. Through the Youth Tour, co-ops across the country have made unforgettable impacts on students for more than half a century.

Every fall, Nodak issues the Youth Tour essay contest to local sophomores and juniors. By early February, submissions are collected and judged, and the winners are contacted in preparation for the trip in June.

For more information, visit nodakelectric.com/youth-tour, ndyouthtour.com, or youthtour.coop.

Continue Reading »

Promotions

Derek Sondreal was promoted to foreman of the Grand Forks crew. He has been with Nodak for nine years.

 

 


Jared Stadstad was promoted to lead lineman with the Grand Forks crew. He has been with Nodak for seven years.

 

 


Ben Haarstad was promoted to journeyman lineman and interim crew foreman with the construction crew. He has been with Nodak for five years.

 

 


Travis Vatthauer was promoted to journeyman lineman with the Grand Forks crew. He has been with Nodak for three years.

 

Continue Reading »

Stay Safe On The Farm

Overhead power lines are necessary to deliver electricity to hardworking farmers and ranchers, but those same power lines can also be deadly if not treated with respect. While you need to focus on the field and your machinery, your local electric cooperative urges you to also watch for electrical hazards around the farm or ranch.

Be Aware

Farmers and their equipment should always be 10 feet away from power lines on all sides. Field cultivators and sprayers can often reach as high as 12 feet in the air. Practice extreme caution and use a spotter to make sure you stay far away from power lines when you use tall equipment.

If you have purchased new equipment, be aware of antennas or other attachments that may pose new hazards. A newer, bigger piece of equipment may no longer clear a line. In addition, shifting soil may also affect whether machinery avoids power lines from year to year.

Power lines also may sag over the years. If power lines on your property are sagging, contact your electric cooperative to repair the lines. Never try to move a power line on your own.

Overhead power lines are not the only electric hazard on the farm. Pole guy wires, used to stabilize utility poles, are grounded. However, when one of the guy wires is broken, it can become charged with electricity. If you break a guy wire, call the cooperative to fix it. Don’t do it yourself.

Follow These Other Tips:

  • Look over work areas carefully for overhead power lines and utility poles. Make sure you, your family and employees know the location of overhead power lines, and use routes to avoid the lines when moving equipment. Do this every year, as equipment sizes and soil conditions may change.
  • Be aware of increased heights of equipment, especially new equipment with higher antennas.
  • Avoid moving large equipment alone. Have someone watch as you move equipment to ensure you are clear of power lines.
  • Be extra careful when working around trees and brush; they often make it difficult to see power lines.

What If You Contact A Power Line?

Imagine that you are driving a tractor to the field when things come to a screeching halt. You look back to see what’s stopping you, only to discover that you’re tangled in an overhead power line! What do you do?

  • First, DON’T climb out. If your equipment does contact a power line, stay in the cab and call for help. Warn others to stay away and wait until the electric cooperative arrives. Most utility lines are uninsulated, bare wires. Do not let your body become a direct link between the power line and the ground.
  • If you must leave the tractor due to immediate danger, such as a fire, jump as far away as you can, making sure that no part of your body touches the tractor and the ground at the same time. Land with both feet together and hop or shuffle your feet a few inches at a time, making sure to never break contact with the ground or cause separation between your feet.
  • Once you’re off the tractor, do not go back until your local electric co-op disconnects the power line.
Continue Reading »

What Is That Thing?

While driving down a country road and checking out the scenery, people often look at power lines and wonder how they work.

Nodak utilizes many different pieces of equipment to get you the reliable power you need. The green box next to the pole is an underground junction box. The source of power is the overhead line. Nodak taps power off the overhead line, through a lightning arrester and connects to an underground riser. Power is run to the underground junction box we sometimes refer to as a sectionalizing pedestal. They have up to four connection points that can distribute underground lines. Also at the top of this pole is an Oil Circuit Recloser (OCR). These devices sense an Amperage value above their rating and trip open that section of power line. They operate much the same as a circuit breaker in your home except they can open and close automatically.

A high amperage value could be the results of a tree branch in the power line, contact with farming equipment, an animal contact or lightning. The recloser is set to three or four operations depending on the installation. If an object gets into the power line, the recloser will open and after a couple of seconds it will close back in. If the object is still present in the line, it will open again. After the three or four operations, if the object is still in the power line, the line will remain off and that section of line will have a power outage.If the object is no longer present in the line, the line will continue to deliver power. This is the reason members experience blink outages. Without the recloser, more members would be out of power for a longer period of time.

This only covers a few major pieces of equipment we use to keep your power on. Some other vital equipment we use includes highside and lowside breakers and voltage regulators. This process also does not cover the maintenance we must perform and personnel it takes to ensure the infrastructure we have put in place stays in top condition. This includes our vegetation management program, line and substation inspections and other critical programs.

Continue Reading »

New Hires

Matt Konze has been hired as an apprentice lineman with the construction crew. A lineman for seven years, Matt previously worked at Strata, AW Power as a foreman and at East Grand Forks Water and Light. An East Grand Forks native, Matt and wife, Danica, have a daughter, Amelia, and are expecting a baby boy in September. In his spare time, he enjoys being outdoors, going to the lake, hunting and fishing.


Jolene Landis has been hired as warehouse person. Joleen’s duties include receiving and distributing construction materials, assisting with work orders, maintenance of reclosers and maintenance of buildings and grounds. A Larimore, N.D., native, Joleen previously worked at Landis Enterprises, Inc., running heavy equipment and doing bookkeeping. She also co-owned the Larimore Flower and Gift Shop for nine years with her husband, Jay. Joleen and Jay have three kids and three grandkids. Her hobbies include going to the lake, fishing and hanging out with family and friends.

Continue Reading »

Director Lund Retires

Doug Lund became a member of the board of directors for Sheyenne Valley Electric Cooperative in 1990 and the board of Nodak Electric since the merger on Jan. 1, 2001. He earned a business education degree from Mayville State University and taught school in Richardton, N.D., and Prior Lake, Minn., before moving northwest of Sharon to farm.

In the past, he has served on the North Dakota Statewide board, the Finley-Sharon school board, the Trinity Lutheran Church board, the Sharon Elevator board, the Sharon Township board and the Steele County Crop Improvement Association.

Doug and his wife, Carol, farm wheat, barley, flax and soybeans. They have three grown children and three grandchildren. Retirement includes traveling, volunteering and spending time with family and spoiling the grandkids.

Continue Reading »

Annual Meeting Highlights

About 400 members and guests attended Nodak Electric Cooperative’s 78th annual meeting Thursday, April 12, 2018, at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Members enjoyed a roast beef dinner served by the Alerus staff.

During the meeting, the cooperative’s board of directors was seated for the upcoming year, including the selection of officers and three director elections. Paul Sigurdson was re-elected to represent District 1, David Hagert was re-elected to represent District 2 and new board member David Brag was elected to represent District 3. Following the meeting, Nodak’s board of directors elected Luther Meberg as its chairman. In addition, Les Windjue was named vice chairman and David Kent was named secretary-treasurer.

Continue Reading »

Youth Tour Winner To Visit Washington, D.C.

Lilly Bina was selected to represent Nodak Electric Cooperative at the 2018 Washington, D.C., Youth Tour. Bina is the daughter of Cameron and Estelle Bina of Park River, N.D., and attends Park River Area High School. She will join other North Dakota Youth Tour contestants and more than 1,600 other students from across the country in D.C. the week of June 9-15. The Youth Tour educates students about electric cooperatives, the cooperative business model and the legislative process. She will have an incredible experience visiting unforgettable historic monuments, museums and the U.S. Capitol.

Continue Reading »

It’s Always Time For Safety

Safety is an everyday thing, especially for line crews; however, spring and fall are times when we tend to talk about it more with our members. Farmers are back in the fields and homeowners are eager to get out of the house, and kids are outside riding bikes and playing in the parks. All of these things require additional vigilance on everyone’s part to ensure we all stay safe.

Our farmers will spend long hours using heavy equipment that can be inherently dangerous. Homeowners will bring out saws, mowers and ladders as spring cleanup begins, and our kids will be crossing busy streets riding bikes to school and play. With all this activity going on, we need to be reminded to follow safety instructions and to watch out for each other at the same time.

May is National Electric Safety month. As a member-owned electric cooperative, we are committed to keeping members and employees safe. Electrical safety is a common topic with the employees of Nodak Electric Cooperative, but May is a time when we make an extra effort to educate and inform our members about the dangers of electricity. While electricity is a necessity in modern-day life, the same electricity used to power our daily lives can be dangerous, even life-threatening if used improperly. We regularly print articles in this publication with tips on how to avoid being hurt by electricity. I would encourage you to take a few moments and read those short articles and ask yourself if you are following those potentially life-saving tips.

One recommendation we don’t stress often enough is to have a qualified electrician tackle all of your wiring projects. Not only will they ensure your project is done properly, they will notice if something is not up to current electrical code. The standards for safe electrical wiring can change from time to time. Even though your system may have been installed correctly according to the code in effect at the time it was put in, it may not adhere to today’s National Electric Code. For example, your wiring may have been done before GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets were required, but depending on their location they may be required for new construction today. A qualified professional would notice such a departure from current code requirements and suggest you change them out. Seemingly simple improvements like this can make a dramatic difference in securing your family’s safety. For their sake and yours, consider hiring a qualified electrician for your next project no matter how big or small.

For those who attended our annual meeting, thank you for taking the time to participate in your cooperative’s business. We had 2,400 members who participated in our Board of Directors’ election through mail-in ballots and at the meeting. Congratulations to Paul Sigurdson and David Hagert who were reelected to new three-year terms and welcome to our newest board member, Dave Brag, who is beginning his first three-year term. This meeting also marked the end of the long career for Director Doug Lund. Doug served our cooperative with distinction for more than 27 years. I would like to thank Doug for his strong commitment over the years and wish him well in his new endeavors.

Continue Reading »

Leading the Charge

Electric vehicles gaining traction in ND

In 2017, an electric vehicle (EV) charging program became available for the first time to Nodak Electric members. This program is designed to save electric vehicle owners money through a lower electricity rate for battery charging units that are hard-wired and off-peak controlled. Read on for more information.

While it may have seemed futuristic only a few years ago, electric vehicles are beginning to gain traction in North Dakota. Rapid advancements in battery technology now provide drivers with cost-effective vehicles that offer 100 to 300 miles of range per each charge.

The ability to save money is one of the major draws of electric vehicles. Charging with electricity is equivalent to less than $1 per gallon gasoline. If you participate in Nodak Electric’s off-peak charging program, the cost could be less than 65 cents per gallon. Electric vehicles also require significantly less maintenance. There are no oil changes, belts, air filters, spark plugs or other parts that need occasional replacement in a gasoline-powered vehicle.

One big question for many consumers in North Dakota is how electric vehicles perform in cold climates. Both gasoline and electric vehicles have lower efficiencies at colder temperatures. For EVs, cold weather can impact the distance you can travel per charge by 25 to 50 percent. Larger batteries, however, have less performance loss issues. Still, today’s EVs work well in cold climates. It is recommended that you store your EV in a garage during the winter and allow it to heat up while still plugged in. This will improve the battery range.

Nodak Electric members also get the satisfaction of knowing that they are charging with homegrown North Dakota energy. All of the electricity delivered to Nodak is generated by in-state resources, including coal, wind and hydro. By using electricity, you are supporting the cooperative that you own and the economy of your state.

Charging your EV

Charging times vary based on the vehicle and voltage of the charging station. Drivers can charge their electric vehicles through a standard 120-volt outlet, although it takes significantly longer (15-20 hours) than other charging options. Using 240-volt service, a dead battery can be fully charged in approximately two to four hours. Lastly, Direct Current (DC) quick charging is available at some gas stations and along major transportation corridors. On average, the DC charger can add 40 miles of range for every 10 minutes of charging.

Installing a home charger

You’ll charge your electric vehicle at home almost every day. Why not pay less every time you plug in?

The installation of a 240-volt charger qualifies you for a $50 per kilowatt (kW) rebate (maximum $500) and the money-saving off-peak charging rate. The off-peak program allows for the control of certain loads (most commonly heating and water heating) during periods of peak electrical demand. The financial savings realized by controlling loads are distributed back to the consumer through the off-peak electric rate, which is lower than the standard electric rate.

In exchange for the lower rate, electric vehicle charging times are limited to off-peak hours. During October through May, charging can be done from noon to 5 p.m., and from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. In the summer months, charging is available from midnight to 10 a.m. With only a few hours needed to completely charge an empty battery, most consumers are not inconvenienced by the limited charging times.

Public charging on the rise

Public charging options are increasingly becoming available in North Dakota and Minnesota lakes country. According to www.plugshare.com, a national online charging station locator, there are approximately 18 public charging options in North Dakota, with more planned for 2018. The Detroit Lakes and Bemidji areas also feature multiple public charging stations.

In Nodak’s service area, the new Minnkota Power Cooperative building features a free 240-volt charging station for public use.

Energy services is here to help

If you have questions about electric vehicles or are interested in installing a charging station in your home or business, contact Nodak Electric’s energy services team at 746-4461 or 800-732-4373. They will be able to assist with rebate questions and provide insight into technical requirements.

 

Continue Reading »

AMI

Advanced Metering Infrastructure marks 10 years

This year marks the tenth anniversary of a fully commissioned Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system at Nodak Electric Cooperative. More commonly referred to as Automated Meter Reading (AMR) System, AMI is an integrated system of smart meters, communication networks and data management systems enabling two-way communication between Nodak and its members. What started out as a means to obtain monthly meter readings now plays a vital role in serving the member and Nodak in many ways.

Nodak uses a power line carrier-based solution called Two-Way Automated Communication System, through ACLARA Technologies LLC (TWACS). Commands are sent from Nodak’s office in Grand Forks through the internet and radio systems to various substations within the service area. Substation equipment passes information back and forth with the member’s meter through the power line. The Cooperative’s meters do not use radio frequency to communicate information and only transmit information for up to 20 seconds upon request.

Expecting two years to complete, the first meter was installed in July 2007 and the system fully commissioned in December 2008 after 17 months, and enlisted the help of Nodak’s line workers, technicians, engineers and member and energy services personnel.

Each day, the electric meters are read at or near midnight and three or more additional times for hourly or 15-minute kilowatt-hour (kWh) energy interval data. A meter can also be read real-time when needed, at any given time to check a reading or on a day when service is being transferred. Before AMI, meters were read by Nodak members (self-read), contract meter readers and line workers. Sending an accurate bill was a challenge if meter readings were read on different days each month, not read for extended periods of time or estimated. Invoices sent to members with self-read meters were billed at a 30-day delay causing more confusion. Now, Nodak sends a current bill for one month of usage, which has greatly reduced member confusion and, consequently, call volume and office visits. In addition, Nodak is no longer required to access the member’s property or inconvenience them for monthly meter readings.

Five years ago, a meter data management system (MDMS) was added to store meter data and create reports. MDMS stores hourly or 15-minute energy usage (kWh) values depending on the meter in service. Collection of interval data is important to Nodak for engineering studies, to verify off-peak electric heating systems are shed during control events and in assisting members with usage concerns. Nodak makes MDMS information available to members via SmartHub to track and manage electrical energy usage.

AMI has been a big help during outage restoration. As calls come in from members without power and entered into the outage management system, meters are “pinged” or asked to respond back to verify where power is present in the circuit, directing line workers to begin their work. When a line segment has been repaired and put back into service, meters are pinged again to look for other individual outages. Members can log onto Nodak’s website, www.nodakelectric.com, and click on “Outages” at the top of the page to view areas out of power during extended outages. What AMI cannot do is determine if a member has lost power past the meter, or in the secondary wiring circuit. Since meters cannot report back to the office during a power outage, it is still important for members to call in their outage to Nodak as soon as possible.

The greatest benefit of AMI, from the member perspective has been access to their own meter usage data anytime and anywhere. By logging onto SmartHub through personal computer or mobile device, members can view energy usage data in either hourly or 15-minute intervals (depending on type of meter installed). Members can view daily, weekly or monthly usage to better manage their energy consumption or track performance of energy conservation measures. In addition, current billing period usage can be viewed and compared to past billing periods for members to view how their usage is trending.

 

Continue Reading »
Mobile Menu Toggle
Call Nodak Electric