Rural Development Finance Corporation Awards Grant In Nodak Electric Cooperative’s Service Area

Nodak Electric Cooperative is a member of the Rural Development Finance Corporation (RDFC). As a result, communities in our service area were eligible to apply for a grant of up to $2,000 for community-based projects. RDFC is making these funds available in order to make more people aware of their larger loan program that funds community-based projects and nonprofit entities with low interest loans.

RDFC has recently granted $2,000 to the City of Gilby, N.D. The shingles and underlayment of Gilby’s park shelter are deteriorating. The grant funds will be used to replace the materials and use steel for the roof to help with maintenance. The “Welcome to Gilby” sign located on the south edge of town will be updated and the plants in the planter will be refreshed as well.

The RDFC is a nonprofit corporation that encourages economic diversification and community vitality through the generation of funding that supports sustainable asset building. Funding for RDFC programs comes from fee income generated by Dakotas America LLC, a community development entity providing New Market Tax Credits in economically distressed census tracks across the U.S. 

The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives provides support to RDFC.

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How Much Are You Spending On Heating Each Month?

Consider Off-peak Electric Heating

Nodak Electric Cooperative member-owners can save money by allowing their electric heating system to be controlled during peak demand periods while using their backup heating system. The savings to Nodak during these control events is passed on to participating off-peak members through a lower electric heating rate. To qualify, an electric heating system must be coupled with an automatic, whole home backup heating system. A device is installed to control the electric heat remotely. The off-peak rate is offered during the heating season months of October through May. Contact us for more information at www.nodakelectric.com/off-peak-electric-heat or by calling Member Services at 800-732-4373.

If during the heating season you experience a control event that seems excessively long or have no hot water, please be sure to give us a call at 800-732-4373 first to determine if further help is needed.

How does Nodak’s $0.062/kWh off-peak heating rate compare to alternative fuel sources?

Fuel Type

Furnace Efficiency

Fuel Price

Unit of Measure

Propane 95%

$1.58

gallon
80%

$1.33

gallon

Natural Gas

95%

$1.73

ccf (for mcf x 10)

80%

$1.45

ccf (for mcf x 10)

Fuel Oil

70%

$1.78

gallon
60%

$1.53

gallon
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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 is 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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Construction Plans This Summer? Don’t Forget About Us.

If you are planning any kind of construction, grain handling upgrade or any other projects that require an electric service upgrade, don’t forget to contact us at 800-732-4373.

With many projects already scheduled for this construction season, advanced notice helps us plan to better serve you. Lead time for some materials has substantially increased. 

Line Patrol

Line crews will be conducting line inspections starting around January/February. You may see our crews driving around and inspecting overhead lines. Crews will be inspecting services and equipment on members’ properties. 

Please use caution when driving through work zones. You may encounter traffic restrictions, reduced speeds, lane closures, detours and/or delays. Above all, slow down and please drive carefully!

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Value Of Off-peak Electric Heating

We regularly try to point out that the electricity we sell is a good energy value. Our core mission is to provide our membership with safe, reliable and affordable electricity, but we also take pride in that our commodity remains a good energy value when compared to alternative sources. Natural gas and propane prices have risen dramatically over the last several months. Natural gas prices today are over double what they were at this same time last year, while propane prices are forecast to be about 75% higher than last winter. Fortunately, the cost of electricity from Nodak Electric Cooperative has stayed stable for the last several years and will do so for the balance of 2022. 

These high natural gas prices, coupled with a lingering drought that has reduced available hydroelectric resources, has caused tremendous volatility in the wholesale markets. Last winter, we saw a polar vortex upset the wholesale markets for about a week or so. Today’s high market prices have been occurring with more regularity. To avoid having to purchase high-priced wholesale electricity, our wholesale power provider, Minnkota Power Cooperative, utilizes their off-peak load control system. Over the past several years, the wholesale power market has been relatively low compared to where it is today, so the load control system has enjoyed a period of lesser use. The higher market prices and extreme volatility will certainly mean the value of this system will be realized with more robust use over this winter season.

Some of you may be enjoying the low rates that we offer as part of our off-peak heating program. What you probably didn’t realize is that by being a participant in this program, you are helping all of us enjoy lower rates. By being able to reduce electricity demand through the use of our load control system, Minnkota Power is able to avoid purchasing high-priced energy to meet the peak demand, or alternatively, adding additional generation resources that would only be necessary during the very highest use times of the year. Those cost savings play a large part in keeping our wholesale power costs down, which in turn impacts all our rates. 

On another note, I typically use this issue of the Nodak Neighbor to remind you of the upcoming annual meeting and board of directors election. After two years of virtual meetings, our goal is to finally get you all together in person at the Alerus Events Center in Grand Forks. Our meeting is set for Tuesday, April 12, beginning with supper at 5 p.m. with the meeting to follow at 6 p.m. We will again have three board positions up for election, so if you or anyone you know may be interested in running for a seat on your cooperative’s board of directors, contact us at the cooperative headquarters in Grand Forks and we will be happy to help you through the process. 

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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. 22, 2022, 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: John Aamodt, Arvilla, 218-779-5250; Daryl Evenson, Devils Lake, 701-739-9093; Richard Hanson, Grand Forks, 701-739-0950; Shannon Johnson, Park River, 701-331-2933; Neal Klamm, Thompson, 218-779-7378; Jared Peterka, Forest River, 701-520-2937; Glenn Rethemeier, Larimore, 218-779-3222; Paul Retzlaff, Aneta, 701-270-0181; and Linda Stromstad, Hatton, 701-335-3034.

Three Director Positions Open

Three director positions will be open at the annual meeting on April 12, 2022. The directors whose terms expire in 2022 are:

District 1 – Luther Meberg (incumbent seeking reelection)
District 2 – David Kent (incumbent seeking reelection)
District 3 – Les Windjue (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 close of business day Friday, Feb. 25, to verify nominee qualifications and allow sufficient time for voting by mail.

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Around The Co-op

Jeff Sloan Retires

Jeff Sloan, Nodak crew foreman for Finley, N.D., recently retired from the cooperative after 33 years of service. Jeff started in 1989 with the former Sheyenne Valley Electric Cooperative and continued his employment with Nodak following the merger in 2000. He was promoted from journeyman lineworker to lead lineworker and crew foreman, a position he held until his retirement.

Dwight Mosher Retires

Dwight Mosher, electrical equipment operator with the construction crew, has retired after 17 years with Nodak. Dwight started at the cooperative in 2005 with the underground crew, where he operated a trencher and removed electrical line equipment. He then transferred to the construction crew where he removed overhead lines, hauled cable and repaired transformers.

Thank you, Dwight and Jeff, for your service and commitment to the cooperative.  We wish you all the best in your retirement.


Graduating lineworker apprentices

The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) is proud to announce the graduation of 13 lineworkers from its apprenticeship program. Over the last 60 years, more than 725 people have completed the program. To graduate, apprentices must complete 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and more than 400 hours of study.

On Jan. 13, NDAREC hosted a graduation ceremony to formally recognize lineworkers who completed the apprenticeship program in 2021. Congratulations to Nodak’s graduates (below), who are now journeyman lineworkers for the cooperative!


Employee updates

Sawyer Smith has accepted the position of crew foreman in Finley, N.D., with the retirement of Jeff Sloan. Sawyer started with Nodak as a seasonal apprentice lineworker with the Michigan construction crew, and was later promoted to journeyman lineworker with Nodak’s Finley crew. A Larimore, N.D. native, Sawyer is a graduate of Bismarck State College’s lineworker program. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching NDSU football and hunting. Sawyer resides in Finley with his family.

Jake Lund, a Grand Forks native, started with Nodak as a seasonal lineworker with the Cavalier crew and recently accepted a full-time position. He went to lineworker school at Northwest Lineman College in Idaho. Jake enjoys all outdoor activities and DIY projects. He plans to live in Cavalier.

Jordan Johnson, a Cooperstown, N.D. native, started with Nodak as a seasonal apprentice lineworker with the Grand Forks crew. He is a graduate of Bismarck State College’s lineworker program. He has recently accepted a full-time apprentice lineworker position with Nodak’s Finley crew. Jordan will reside in the Finley area. 

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Focusing On Reliability

Nodak Electric Cooperative uses multiple methods such as annual maintenance programs, automated technologies and strategic initiatives to enhance reliability, reduce labor time for our crews and lessen outage times. 

Oil Circuit Reclosures (OCRs)

Oil circuit reclosers (OCRs) act like a circuit breaker, protecting distribution lines in the case of a temporary fault or short. The OCR opens to halt the fault and closes again immediately, causing a small “blink” in electricity. If the line anomaly continues, the OCR will shut off (remain open), resulting in an outage.

Winter Maintenance

In January, line crews will begin driving around our service territory to inspect overhead lines and look for potential hazards that could be dangerous or affect reliability. Some of these hazards include cracked, broken and leaning poles, trees hanging dangerously close to power lines, frayed wires and blown arrestors.

Summer Maintenance 

In the summer months, line crews and local contractors perform pole inspections, vegetation management and preventive right-of-way trimming.

Seven Service Centers

Nodak Electric Cooperative has seven local service centers. It was a deliberate decision to have these centers throughout our nine-county service territory in order to maintain a local presence in these communities, while also working to reduce the time it takes for our lineworkers to respond and restore electricity.

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

In addition to meter readings, Nodak Electric Cooperative’s AMI system provides real-time data that helps us detect faults and other potential problems on the electric grid. This system supports increased reliability for you, our member-owners.

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Pride Of Dakota Hosts Holiday Showcase

The 2021 Pride of Dakota holiday showcase was held recently at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. The showcase drew in over 110 vendors for the two-day event offering North Dakota-made products. 

Pride of Dakota was created in 1985 by former Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Jones who asked a small group of North Dakota businesses and the Department of Agriculture’s marketing staff to develop an identifiable state brand that would designate products as “made in North Dakota.” 

Pride of Dakota was officially launched the same year with a roster of about 20 companies. Today, more than 500 member companies – ranging in size from large companies with more than 100 employees to “mom-and-pop” operations – participate in the program. Members include food and beverage companies, manufacturers, publishers, artisans, gift manufacturers and service providers. 

Pride of Dakota hosts holiday showcases for manufacturers and service providers. Associate members, such as commodity groups, government agencies, educational institutions and retailers, also support the program. Pride of Dakota’s goal is to provide local business owners the business development resources and marketing opportunities they need to be successful.

Source: prideofdakota.nd.gov

 

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Grow The Company, Grow The Community

Business has been poppin’ this year for one of Nodak Electric Cooperative’s commercial members in Devils Lake. Farm-family-owned CoJACK Snack & Pack is one part bean processing and packaging company and one part Colorado Jack popcorn plant – but it’s 100% on the grow.

“Sales have been going great,” said Chace Austvold, head of CoJACK marketing and sales and daughter of CoJACK founder Brian Engstrom. 

Colorado Jack popcorn can be found regionally in stores like Hornbacher’s and Simonson Station Stores, but it has recently expanded to even more retailers across the country, including all Hy-Vee gas stations. Austvold is especially excited about a new partnership with the Fargodome, which is now selling their raw and packaged popcorn. “If you make it to a Bison game or Fargodome event, be on the lookout for a custom Colorado Jack popcorn cart!” she said.

Popcorn is just one piece of the multifaceted undertaking that is CoJACK Snack & Pack. The company also takes raw product from local farmers, cleans it, packages it and ships it out on their behalf. The process creates a value-added ag ecosystem right in the heart of the nation’s top state for dry edible beans.

“Almost 100% of the pinto beans are from local farmers,” Engstrom explained as he walked through a warehouse stacked high and far with raw black beans, peas, lentils and more. “Some things are coming from western North Dakota and Montana. But within a couple hundred miles of here – that’s where nearly all of our product comes from.”

Since purchasing the 120,000-square-foot CoJACK facility in March 2019, the family has continued to push forward in terms of efficiency and production. Engstrom is currently setting up equipment for an additional packaging and production line on the Colorado Jack side of the building that will allow them to produce their popular Caramel popcorn at the same time as their savory varieties (such as Sea Salt & Butter and White Cheddar & Jalapeño).

All that production takes power. Before the conveyors started rolling in 2019, Engstrom called on Nodak Electric Cooperative to help him get transformer capacity back to the operation days of the past, when the building was used as a pasta factory. With much of the packaging lines, heat lamps and even forklifts powered with electricity, CoJACK’s co-op had a role to play in the venture.

“Because we are in a very large agricultural-based area, I think it’s always great when our members
can take a product from the farm to the shelf,” said Nodak engineering manager Steve Breidenbach. “The entrepreneurial efforts of the family are spectacular.”

Companies like CoJACK are a growing necessity for North Dakota communities like Devils Lake. Not only is the business boosting the ag industry and supplying great jobs, but it’s diversifying the local economy and bringing in money from outside of the state. In 2020, CoJACK was given the Governor’s Choice Award for Economic Development. “The whole project embodies rural economic development. So many times it’s out-of-state projects coming to North Dakota, taking our local economic development dollars, failing and then two years later, they’re gone,” said Brad Barth, executive director of Forward Devils Lake Corporation. “Here you have local owners that risked significant dollars, found other partners, and in less than a year have nearly 30 employees in a highly automated packaging facility – that’s a pretty cool thing.”

It’s not only the local community benefiting from CoJACK. The company is using its Colorado Jack popcorn as the center of a program to help organizations fundraise, from school groups to sports teams. Austvold says over the course of 2021, they have doubled the amount of fundraisers supported compared to the previous year. She adds that the opportunity isn’t simply for students – any organization wanting to raise money can participate.

Throughout October, Colorado Jack offered a special popcorn pack to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month and support breast cancer research. Fifty percent of the proceeds of the POP into Action packs will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

“Our organization, as well as many others, have been affected by breast cancer in some way. We wanted to show support to our employees and others when creating this pack,” Austvold said. “Our company is built on the principles of giving back. We make it a priority in our day-to-day businesses. For me, it’s about creating awareness to the needs in the community and encouraging others to help give back in any way possible.”

CoJACK Snack & Pack also works closely with Lake Region Corporation (LRC), a nonprofit community-based organization dedicated to providing vocational, residential and support services for those with disabilities. CoJACK currently has three lucky LRC assistants who help keep the plant clean, and they soon plan to have LRC help with processing and packaging orders from the four online channels they use to sell Colorado Jack popcorn: the online store, Amazon, HSN and Feast and Field.

The family received the LRC Partner of the Year award this year, and they can’t wait to see that partnership grow along with the company.

“We are shipping 15-20 small orders a day, and that number does not include our small-case orders for customers that we drop ship to,” Austvold explained. “So we are busy and definitely need the help!”

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Heating And Energy Saving Tips

Small space heaters are meant to do exactly as their name says – heat a small space. But unfortunately, many people use portable space heaters to heat their entire home, which can really take a toll on your energy bills. The truth is, whether you should use space heaters really depends on your home’s efficiency and energy needs. 

If you’re using a space heater to compensate for problems in your home, like inadequate insulation, drafty windows and exterior doors, or an inefficient heating system, space heaters are not a practical solution. Your best bet is to improve the overall efficiency of your home. If you’re on a tight budget, caulking and weather stripping around windows and exterior doors is a low-cost, easy way to save energy. Depending on the size of your home, adding insulation can be a great next step. Taking these proactive energy-saving steps rather than relying on space heaters for supplemental heat can reduce your heating and cooling bills for years to come. 

Maybe your home is energy efficient, but you’re cold-natured and want a specific room to be cozier than the rest. In this case, a space heater may work for your needs. A good comparison is ceiling fans – we use ceiling fans in the summer to cool people, not rooms. A space heater can be used in a similar way during winter months. But, use a space heater in small spaces that you’re occupying and, if possible, try to shut off other rooms to contain the warmth provided by the space heater. If you decide to use a space heater to heat a small area in your home, make sure the heater is properly sized for the space. 

A word about safety: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates more than 25,000 residential fires are caused by the use of space heaters every year, resulting in more than 300 deaths. If you need to use a space heater, buy a newer model that includes the most current safety features and make sure it has the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label. Choose a thermostatically controlled heater to avoid energy waste and overheating and place the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic when in use. 

As an alternative, consider changing your furnace to an electric off-peak system. It’s one of the best energy values for home heating. The cost of electricity from Nodak Electric has been stable for a number of years and will remain stable this winter. With the cost of propane and natural gas rising, off-peak electric heating is an even better value today. 

In closing, this holiday season we want to say thank you to all our veterans and men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces. It’s said that we are all warmed by fires we did not build and drink from wells we did not dig. Many of our fires and wells have been in large part provided by our servicemen and women. The freedom we live under is due to the sacrifices of these brave men and women and we can’t thank them enough. 

Giving thanks is also an important part of this holiday season and we would be remiss if we didn’t express how thankful we are for our members. Because of your connection and involvement in your electric cooperative, we are able to make our communities better places and enhance the lives of those we serve. Thank you all for what you do for Nodak Electric. 

Finally, from all of us at Nodak, we want to wish you Happy Holidays. May they be merry and bright!

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Notice To Off-peak Members

The off-peak program is designed to reduce electric load during peak demand times and pass energy savings on to participating members by controlling electric home heating and water heating equipment.

If during the heating season you experience a control event that seems excessively long or have no hot water, please be sure to give us a call first to determine if further help is needed.

To know if load is being controlled, click on “Energy Information” from the homepage and then the link “Load Management Status.” When viewing the Last Switching Status graph, cells that are the color green indicating “on” means there is no load control activity, and red cells with “off’ indicate load is being controlled.

If you have any questions, please call 1-800-732-4373 or 701-746-4461.

How does Nodak’s $0.062/kWh off-peak heating rate compare to alternative fuel sources?

Fuel Type

Furnace Efficiency

Fuel Price

Unit of Measure

Propane

95%

$1.58

gallon

80%

$1.73

gallon

Natural Gas 95%

$1.33

ccf (for mcf x 10)

80%

$1.45

ccf (for mcf x 10)

Fuel Oil 70%

$1.78

gallon

60%

$1.53

gallon

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