Trip of a lifetime

It’s not often that writing a two-page essay leads to the trip of a lifetime. But for Britton Bina, the extra effort won him an all-expense-paid week in Washington, D.C. The junior at Park River Area High School was one of 1,700 students from around the country selected to participate in the 2016 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour held June 11-17. Bina had the opportunity to learn more about electric cooperatives, visit famous historical monuments and get to know fellow students from cooperatives across the country. Th e action-packed tour included visits to the Smithsonian, the National Archives, Arlington National Cemetery, the WW I, Vietnam and Korean War Veterans Memorials as well as the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials and the Washington Monuments.

In addition to sightseeing, Bina and other North Dakotans on the tour had the chance to meet and ask questions of the North Dakota delegation. Nodak Electric Cooperative sponsored Bina, whose parents, Cameron and Estelle, are Nodak members. Bina’s winning essay was in response to this topic: Pick one of the four Touchstone Energy® core values – innovation, integrity, accountability and commitment to community – and describe how you see this in action at Nodak Electric Cooperative. Bina wrote about Nodak’s commitment to serving its members no matter the circumstances. He highlighted the efforts to bring power out to farms in the 1940s and the significant work necessary to restore electric service during storms. “Through rough times, the merging of companies and the harshest of weather, Nodak has and will continue to give people electricity when they need it,” Bina wrote. He also highlighted when the lights came on for the first time for his great grandfather. “Since my great grandfather flipped that switch many years ago, many amazing lights have shone bright, all because Nodak has the commitment to keep them shining bright,” Bina’s essay concluded.

The Youth Tour program continues to foster the grassroots spirit of the rural electric cooperatives by demonstrating to our youth how our government works and what the electric cooperative business model is all about. Since 1964, the nation’s electric cooperatives have sponsored about 50,000 high school students on education sessions in Washington, D.C. Nodak will be looking to sponsor another deserving student for the 2017 Youth Tour to be held June 10-16. For more information, check our this page. The essay deadline is Jan. 31, 2017.

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2017 Director Elections

Nodak Electric Cooperative, Inc. will hold its 77th annual meeting Thursday, April 6, 2017, at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. Election for three positions will be held at the annual meeting. Members who desire to serve as a member of the Nodak Board of Directors may be nominated in one of two ways:

  1. By the Nominating Committee. The committee will meet Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017.
  2. By a petition signed by 15 members of Nodak in good standing. The petition must be submitted to Nodak’s office 45 days prior to the annual meeting (Monday, Feb. 20, 2017).

If you are interested, or would like to know which district you reside in, please contact Nodak’s office at 701-746-4461 or 1-800-732-4373 for more information

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Your cooperative purchases 100 percent of its wholesale power from Minnkota Power Cooperative, our generation and transmission cooperative. As you are probably aware, the power we purchase from Minnkota comes from several different resources. The lion’s share – about 60 percent – comes from coal and the other roughly 40 percent comes from renewable sources such as wind. Over the years, we’ve advocated an “all-of-the-above approach” when it comes to energy production and use, meaning that we believe we should use all of North Dakota’s bountiful resources to serve the energy needs of our membership. In part, that’s why today we have a generation mix that includes coal, wind, hydro and other small generation sources.

So, you could say that because of the generation mix we purchase, through the normal course of doing business with Nodak, you already receive roughly 40 percent of your power from renewable sources; however, that is a bit of an oversimplification. Actually, all of the energy produced by Minnkota is placed on the high-voltage transmission system and is essentially mixed together and sold to Minnkota’s 11 member cooperatives, with the balance being sold into the wholesale markets. Once the energy is placed on the grid and all blended together, you can’t really be sure where the renewable energy is delivered, or where the fossil fuel-based energy is delivered.

To address this issue, the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETs) was created and each kilowatt-hour of energy produced from a renewable source in the region is given a Renewable Energy Credit, or REC. An REC is a verification that electricity was generated from an eligible renewable resource before it was introduced into the electric grid. These RECs are then bought and sold or traded among those who want to be considered the end user of that renewable energy, and the REC is then retired when the energy is used. M-RETs tracks each of these RECs to ensure they are only used once.

Someone’s desire to have RECs retired on their behalf can come from a wide variety of interests. Some power companies have a mandate to sell a certain portion of their electricity from renewable sources, yet may not have enough of their own renewable generation to comply. Some companies are making products that they have a desire to market in a manner indicating they were produced with less environmental impacts. Federal government buildings are under a presidential direction to seek more renewable energy. And finally, some homeowners have a desire to utilize more renewable products due to their position on environmental impacts. Whatever the reason may be, through the purchase and retirement of RECs renewable energy goals can be attained.

To that end, we are introducing the Infinity Renewable Energy program. Nodak members who wish to purchase renewable energy for their home or business now have the option to do so by participating in our Infinity Renewable Energy program. Options to purchase 100 kilowatt-hour blocks of renewable energy, or 100 percent of your monthly energy needs, are available to those who wish to have RECs retired on their behalf. Participation in the program only takes a phone call and has no long-term commitments. On page 5, you’ll find a complete description of the program features and cost. If this is something you’re interested in, please call us and we will help ensure that the energy you use is recognized as coming from a renewable source.

In closing, I want to recognize that this publication will reach you during the holiday season, and I want to express our heartfelt thank you for your patronage and support this past year. We also want to remind all of you to think safety with your holiday lighting and decorating so we may all have a “merry and bright” holiday season. Happy holidays.

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Thank You, Roger; District 2 Director Needed

Cooperatives operate according to a set of seven core principles. One of those principles is Democratic member control. What that means is that we are governed by policy-driven initiatives set by a board of directors made up of member-owners. Member participation in electing that board of directors, as well as serving on the board of directors, are key factors in ensuring the cooperative is operated according to the expectations of our member-owners.

In the coming weeks, members of District 2 have a unique opportunity to help your cooperative by serving on its board of directors. Longtime director Roger Diehl has retired from the board after dedicating 40-plus years of service to Nodak, leaving a vacancy on our board. According to our bylaws, the remaining board members must appoint a replacement to serve in director Diehl’s position until the next election in April 2017. Accordingly, the board is asking interested parties to let their interest be known.

Your board of directors fulfills many vital roles for the cooperative that can be both challenging yet rewarding. Not only are they the ultimate decision-makers when it comes to setting the direction of the cooperative, they are also the local connection to the cooperative membership. Board members represent our eyes and ears throughout our service area. They bring back member concerns and suggestions, provide a local neighbor for you to discuss cooperative business with and represent your interests at the board table.

In the coming years, the co-op board and management will face many challenges working to provide reliable service at affordable rates while navigating the onslaught of new regulations and a push toward a carbon-constrained world. Your cooperative can only be as strong as the people who actively participate in it, so your board of directors is looking for someone with a strong commitment and a desire to help Nodak through the challenges that lie ahead.

If you are a Nodak member residing in District 2, meet the qualifications to be a director and want to help shape Nodak’s future, please let us know. Send us a letter expressing your interest and explaining your unique abilities for serving as a Nodak director. For more information regarding the requirements and process for submitting your letter of interest, refer to the notice on page 2 or go to our website at

And finally, I want to express our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to director Diehl for his many years of service on our board and his unwavering support to Nodak Electric and cooperatives in general. He has been a zealous advocate for the betterment of our cooperative and his contributions to making Nodak what it is today will be a lasting legacy. Thank you, Roger.

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Facility charge explained

Undoubtedly, the most unappreciated and misunderstood part of anyone’s electric bill is the facility charge, the monthly fee that is there no matter how much electricity we use. From a rate perspective, it’s one of the most frequent things we get questioned about, so I thought I would use my space here to shed some light on this part of your monthly bill.

There are two basic components to most power bills – the fixed monthly charges and the charges that vary with how much electricity you use. Facility charges are the fixed part of the rate that is there to help ensure equity among ratepayers. If you think about your own property – whether it is a house, farm or business – you will realize that for each of them Nodak has made a significant investment to bring power to that location.

In addition to these site-specific investments to bring power to your home or business, there are also investments needed to serve everyone and are shared by the entire system. All this initial infrastructure cost must be somehow recovered in our rates and be constantly maintained to provide safe, reliable power to our members.

In addition to the electric infrastructure investment, there are a whole host of expenses we incur that have nothing to do with how much electricity each member uses. One very simple example: at the end of each month, we read your meter, calculate and audit your bill, and have it printed and mailed to each consumer. This is a relatively small cost, but illustrates that with some expenses, regardless of how much electricity you use, it costs approximately the same to perform this function for all members in each rate class. Because of this, we include those expenses in the facility charge for each of those rate classes.

If we didn’t include these costs in the facility charge, they would have to be included in the cost of power so Nodak could bring in the proper amount of revenue each month. If we used that approach, the average energy user would pay about the same as they do now, while those who use very little electricity would pay significantly less than their share of the fixed costs of operating the business, and large users would end up paying many, many times more than their fair share of those costs.

I like to think of it in terms of billing you for the power cost in one part of your bill and billing you for what it costs us to deliver the power in another area. The facility charge is meant to cover what it costs to deliver the power to you, and the rest of the charges are meant to cover the cost of the electricity we purchase on your behalf.

Obviously, the cost to deliver power to members can vary significantly. In high-density urban areas, we typically have multiple accounts fed off the same transformer, and we use much less distribution line per metering point than we would for a rural account that has its own transformer and significantly more dedicated distribution facilities. Conversely, some of our largest accounts have an entire substation dedicated to a single account because they have such large power requirements. For this reason, we have different monthly facility charges for the various rate classes based on the cost we incur to deliver power to members of that rate class, independent of how much power is consumed.

Consequently, urban accounts pay a lower monthly fee than rural accounts do, while commercial accounts require a higher monthly fee due to the more expensive metering and large transformers required for those accounts. All this is done in an attempt to bill each rate class an amount closely resembling what it costs to serve that particular rate class.

Hopefully, you can see that a lot goes into designing rates that are both fair and equitable among our members and between different rate classes. Nobody really likes the facility charge, but it is necessary to ensure we have rate equity.

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Staying Connected

When we gather to celebrate the 76th annual meeting of Nodak Electric Cooperative, you’ll see the theme chosen for our event is “staying connected.” As members of an electric cooperative, staying connected is an important notion. Staying connected with your cooperative by attending the annual meeting, participating in cooperative governance and using the latest technology to do business with your co-op are all ways to assist in ensuring Nodak provides the level and quality of service you desire as an owner.

Staying connected with the other member-owners of your cooperative through meeting attendance, political action committee membership and social media engagement brings us all together as a grassroots advocacy group that has strong influence with lawmakers in Bismarck and Washington, D.C. This co-op connection is an important resource for us as we continue to advocate on behalf of our membership to state and federal leaders and regulators.

In 2015, the EPA issued what’s being considered its most far-reaching environmental regulation ever, the Clean Power Plan. Enacted at the direction of the Obama Administration, the Clean Power Plan calls for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants averaging 32 percent across the United States. Each state was given a target level of reduction to collectively achieve the President’s goal. North Dakota was saddled with one of the highest reductions across the entire country at 45 percent! In light of the fact that more than 30 percent of the power we serve to our members already comes from renewable wind and hydroelectric resources, we feel this federal push away from coal goes too far. Nodak has always supported a resource mix that uses all of North Dakota’s bountiful natural resources in a thoughtful, deliberate way. That is why we continue to fight on your behalf and support the 28 states and dozens of others who are litigating this overly burdensome rule.

Another way we work on your behalf is our efforts to keep rates affordable through sound planning for the future. At the end of 2014, we embarked on a long-range plan to help stabilize your electric rates by creating a revenue deferral plan. Through this plan, $4 million was placed in an account to be used in future years to ease the effects of wholesale power cost increases. In 2015, our wholesale power provider put in place a 5 percent rate increase that would ultimately raise the cost of our wholesale power by $3.1 million in 2015. Half of the revenue deferred from previous years was brought back onto our operating statement in 2015 to help delay the need to pass along that wholesale rate increase to our members. Wholesale power costs make up 85 percent of our total operating costs, so being able to soften the effects of wholesale power cost increases is only possible through this long-term planning. Your retail cost of power from Nodak did not increase in 2015.

Technology continues to play a key role in our efforts to provide information and interaction with our membership. In 2015, we added the pay-by-phone feature where members have 24-hour access to account information and payment options right over the phone. We also added our interactive outage map to our web pages so in the event of service disruption, members with Internet access are able to assess the extent of the problem. These new features are just a few examples of how we continually strive to make connections with your cooperative easy and informative. For quite some time now, members have been able to view and pay bills online, sign up for services, read The Nodak Neighbor and much, much more. Of course, you can always pick up the phone or stop into our office and we will be happy to serve you the old-fashioned way – face to face.

The future looks bright for your cooperative. Although weather created a small dip in sales for 2015, we grew by almost 500 new services and our crews installed more than 210 miles of new line. Steady growth in our membership is the key to keeping costs in check. As costs escalate over time, the ability to share those among a larger, more diverse group benefits everyone. On behalf of the board and the staff at Nodak, we want to thank you for the opportunity to serve the membership and manage our growing cooperative.

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New payment option available

New payment option available

On page seven of this month’s Nodak Neighbor you will see an article announcing the rollout of our newest option for paying your Nodak Electric bill, Pay-by-Phone. This is the newest of the many options members have for paying their bill. We brought this new service online for a number of reasons, but security and convenience top the list.

For those members who don’t have a computer with Internet access, or for those who do but prefer to transact their business over the phone, this option is for you. Once your account is set up, Pay-by-Phone allows you to make a payment to Nodak without giving any of your information to a live person. In this method, the entire transaction is done directly with computerized prompts, quickly and easily, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, totally secure.

Now, if paying by phone isn’t exactly your cup of tea, we have a host of options for you to choose from. Signing up for electronic billing will get you the opportunity to view your bill online, pay by credit card or electronic check, print a receipt, review previous months’ bills, etc., all online. Once a month, you will receive an email reminding you that your bill is ready, and you simply log on to our website and pay it over the Internet.

For those who prefer to have the entire process automated, as I do, Auto Pay Bank Draft is for you. When you sign up for this automatic payment plan, your payment is automatically drawn from your checking or savings account on a certain day each month. You still receive a paper “copy” of your bill for your review reminding you of when the payment will be taken out of your account, and for how much. The rest happens all by itself and you don’t have to worry about remembering to pay the bill, write a check or mail it in. It’s very simple.

Of course, you can always drop a check in the mail as folks have done for many years, pay in the drop box in our parking lot or stop into the front desk during business hours and take care of it face-to-face with one of our customer service representatives.

Offering multiple options to transact your business is important to us because we want to make it as convenient as possible for you, our member-owners. We also want to ensure the highest level of security and dependability in each of the options we provide. All of our payment methods employ the highest level of safeguards available, so rest assured your information is safe with us.

Of course, we are always happy to see our members who stop into the headquarters in Grand Forks. In fact, we look forward to it. So, if you are one of the folks who prefers to take care of business in person, stop in and say “hi” the next time you’re here. If you prefer one of the more high-tech options, check out one of the many alternative payment methods we have to offer. You’ll be glad you did.

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Seeing ‘the light’

Have you had a hard time finding incandescent light bulbs in your local store lately? Since 2007, the United States has been phasing out these inefficient bulbs in favor of more energy efficient models. As part of a move toward reduced energy usage, the Energy Independence and Securities Act of 2007 required approximately 25 percent greater efficiency for light bulbs, which effectively banned the manufacture and importation of the most common incandescent light bulbs. Higher wattage bulbs were phased out in 2012, and as of the end of 2014, 40- and 60-watt bulbs are no longer brought into the United States.

By regulating the incandescent bulb out of use, the government has forced consumers to move toward alternatives that are initially more expensive, but use less energy and are more economical to operate. Compact fluorescent lights, halogen lamps and light emitting diodes or LEDs use considerably less energy than the old workhorse incandescent, so they ultimately pay for themselves over time through reduced energy cost.

When these regulations were imposed, they caused quite a stir among folks who did not want the government dictating their choices in the local hardware store. Now that the phaseout is complete, the general consensus is that the regulators got this one right. Incandescent bulbs will go the way of leaded gasoline and high flow toilets and be looked upon as a low-tech product of a bygone era. Consumers, as a result, ended up with a product that works equally as well and is better for the environment.

As I said, regulators got that one right, but one place regulators got it wrong is with electric water heaters. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently implemented regulations that ban the manufacture of large capacity electric water heaters of 55 gallons or more in favor of a technology that does not work well in colder climates. What the DOE missed is that when used as part of a demand response program, these water heaters become an extremely valuable tool that helps consumers save money, promotes grid reliability, and helps integrate renewable energy. These large capacity water heaters become an energy storage device by heating the water during off-peak hours for use during peak usage times, thereby reducing the need for additional power plants. Grid enabled water heaters truly are an environmental benefit.

Across the Minnkota service territory, cooperative members have approximately 41,300 total electric water heaters in service. Of that number, approximately 8,300 are large capacity units that operate under a demand response or off-peak program. Thanks in part to the three members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation, on April 30 President Obama signed a new piece of legislation that allows us to continue to use these energy efficient tools in this win-win way. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., recently said in a statement “consumers save money, rural electric cooperatives optimize their energy management and, because the water heaters in the program are energy efficient, the environment benefits.”

Many thanks to our congressional delegation for all their hard work in helping the DOE see the “light” on this important piece of legislation.


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Message to our Members

With this annual report, we close the books on 75 years of member-owned energy delivery, and celebrate the growth and prosperity that our cooperative business model has afforded us over those many years. We’ve come a long way since our first meter was energized at the Percy Donnelly farm on Dec. 23, 1939. At the close of 2014, we had 18,646 metered locations spread across 8,040 miles of energized distribution line. That sort of success was again fueled by a good year in 2014.

While 2014 certainly was not ideal for those of us braving the long cold winter, or for our farmers who struggled through a short growing season, it was a good one for electric sales. The frigid winter held on long into spring and returned early in November. A wet start to the harvest also bolstered crop conditioning sales. Those two things, coupled with robust growth in industrial and general service sales, pushed kilowatt-hour deliveries up 5.9 percent over last year to create a new all-time high for energy sales of 1.16 billion kilowatt-hours.

The fiscal impact of this steady growth is reaping benefits in our rates. In November, our power supplier, Minnkota Power Cooperative, announced a 5 percent increase in its rates effective April 1, primarily due to the completion of a 250-mile long transmission line needed to serve the growing energy needs of the Minnkota system. At the cost of $354 million, this line is now officially part of our transmission system backbone and will serve our needs over the next 30-plus years.

The good news is that the strong financial performance of your cooperative has allowed us to establish a revenue deferral plan. By deferring revenue from 2014 into 2015, we are able to absorb, or at least delay, passing along Minnkota’s rate increase through 2015.

Setting aside dollars from 2014 to help mitigate and flatten out rate adjustments is one way your cooperative works to keep dollars in the pockets of our ratepayers. The year 2014 marked a continuation of stable retail rates. We had no general rate increase last year beyond the addition of a one mill pass-through of Minnkota’s renewable energy market adjustment. That’s three years without a rate increase. At some point that will change, but our goal is to make them as small and predictable as possible.

The year 2014 was a nonlegislative year in North Dakota, so our focus was trained more on the national and regional political arenas. In June, the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlined a plan to restrict CO2 emissions from existing power plants over the next decade. That draft rule came under heavy scrutiny during its comment period, and many of you were part of the 1.2 million people who filed formal comments on our behalf at the cooperative action network, We are hopeful our grassroots army sent a message loud and clear that we want a common sense solution to energy regulation across America. EPA’s final rule is due in summer 2015.

Closer to home, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission delayed the construction of a crude oil pipeline through its regulatory siting process. This proposed project would carry Bakken crude oil from western North Dakota through our service area into Superior, Wis. When constructed, this pipeline will add to the growing number of pumping stations we have on our system that already comprise 22.8 percent of our total annual sales. With a projected in-service date of 2017, we look forward to this project getting off the drawing board and pumping oil soon.

At various points throughout last year, we migrated all of our members to calendar month billing. As of now, all member bills begin on the first of each month and end on the last day of each month. We understand that for some members this required a period of adjustment, but this small alteration in our billing cycle has helped tremendously in areas of member communication, accuracy and cash flow. We want to say thank you for your patience and cooperation on this matter.

In keeping with our longstanding philosophy of returning member equity as soon as we can, those of you who were members in 1996 received your share of $1.5 million in capital credit retirements last year. Each year, your share of the cooperative’s margin is allocated to your member account. Those dollars are kept at Nodak and used for financing and operational needs. When your board of directors deems it appropriate, those dollars are deducted from your equity account and sent back to you. In 2014, capital credit retirements averaged $153.07 per member.

Something introduced in 2014 I want to point out is our Electric Heating Rebate Program. In 2014, Nodak teamed with our power supplier, Minnkota Power Cooperative, to provide rebates for new or replaced off-peak electric heating systems. In the short time between May and December, we provided our members with more than $35,000 in rebates as part of this program. This successful program continues into 2015, so if you’re planning a new heating system, make sure you call our Energy Services Department for details.

We encourage you to review the accompanying financial statements, along with the report from secretary-treasurer Luther Meberg. I’m sure you’ll agree that Nodak ended 2014 in sound financial position. We will provide you with more detail about our year during our annual meeting Tuesday, March 31, 2015, at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Until then, I hope you enjoy the walk down memory lane provided in the following pages. The last 75 years of Nodak’s history are chronicled in those pages from the time Franklin Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Administration and our first meter was energized through the major events of the past eight decades.

On behalf of your board of directors and the employees of Nodak Electric Cooperative, we want to thank you for your patronage in 2014 and for the opportunity to serve you. We hope to see you at our annual meeting on March 31.

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Reinvesting in your cooperative

From time to time, I’ve used this space to tout the cooperative business model – the one where the dollars left after paying our expenses are allocated back to our members and eventually returned as capital credits. That cooperative business model has served Nodak and its members well over the last 75 years and again shows a bright spot in 2014 and 2015.

The year 2014 was a good year for your cooperative in terms of net margin, those dollars left over after we pay all of our expenses. In fact, we believe it to be the best ever in that regard. In the world of investor-owned power companies, those margins become part of the stockholders’ value and potentially paid out in dividends or higher stock prices. In the cooperative world, we put those dollars to work for our consumers who also happen to be our owners. That is exactly what we are going to do in 2015.

In April of this year, our wholesale power provider, Minnkota Power Cooperative, will have a fairly modest 5 percent rate increase. The good news is because of the successful year we had in 2014, Nodak will not pass along that rate increase to our members, at least for a while. At our January board meeting, your Board of Directors approved a plan to defer approximately $4 million from 2014 revenues into 2015 to offset much of the wholesale rate increase.

What that means is although Nodak has one of the lowest markups on wholesale power cost of any cooperative across the country, at least for part of 2015 it will be even lower.

Eventually, we will have to pass along the rate increase to our members, but that will depend on factors like the weather, member growth and load growth. When our margins fall below target levels, we will then have to raise our rates to cover this increase. That could happen later in 2015 or even into 2016 or later, depending on how things go. For now, we will put our members’ equity to work in holding the line on our retail rates.

Look for the notice to our 75th annual meeting in this publication and save the date. We’d love to have you join us to celebrate and be our guest for supper.

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Save the date: March 31, 2015


Save the date: March 31, 2015

I hope you all had a chance to read the save the date notice on the previous page for our annual meeting March 31, 2015. Every annual meeting is a special day for us at Nodak as that’s when we get the opportunity to get reacquainted with old friends and meet our new neighbors. Our next annual meeting brings the excitement of marking our 75th year of existence. Seventy-five years ago, when electricity was only available to residents and businesses in urbanized areas, local farmers and landowners banded together, took matters into their own hands and brought the power of electricity to northeastern North Dakota.

Today, few of us know what it was like to live without electricity. We can only imagine the profound impact electricity had on North Dakotans’ way of life, on our economy and on our health. Seventy-five years ago a group of forward-thinking, ambitious, rural residents brought change and shined a light on the need to turn the lights on in rural America.

Now we have a new generation of electric cooperative members. We are owners of the cooperative just like the farmers and ranchers who answered the call to light our area 75 years ago. Much like our founders, today’s co-op members embody the democratic ideals of the cooperative business model of neighbors helping neighbors with the purpose of improving the lives of our members and the communities in which we work and live.

Seventy-five years ago, for-profit electric utilities had determined the urban boundaries they wished to serve, and decided against extending their lines into the rural areas of North Dakota. These profit-minded utilities considered our low population density a poor investment and concluded it was not in the best interest of their investors. Because of the bold initiative of our founders, today Nodak members not only have the power of electricity in our homes, we enjoy the benefits of the cooperative business model. Because the cooperative is democratic, every member has one vote. Our members control and direct Nodak, not money, not politics and not profits. Any revenue left over after paying our expenses and debt service is returned to our members who purchased electricity, not to a stockholder/investor whose sole motivation is a return on their investment.

Over the past 75 years, this business model has served us well. During that time, Nodak has grown from what was initially considered a poor investment by these profit-minded utilities, to one of the larger electric cooperatives in the United States. Today, we provide our members with more than one billion kilowatt-hours annually. We serve members stretching out over almost 9,000 square miles of service area, and do so on 8,000 miles of power lines – all owned by our member-owners.

There’s a lot of history behind that growth, and although the future will not be without challenges, there are bright times ahead. On March 31, 2015, we all will celebrate accomplishments of our forefathers and unite to overcome the challenges ahead. I’d like to encourage you all to save the date and join us for a historical perspective of Nodak Electric Cooperative and commemorate the milestone birthday of Nodak’s 75 years. We hope to see you all then. Until then, I hope you have a happy and safe holiday season.


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Win a trip to Washington, D.C.

Win a trip to Washington, D.C.

I’d like to draw your attention to the advertisement on page 8 announcing Nodak’s participation in the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. In June 2015, one well-deserving high school student from our service area will join youth from around the state and across the country on a weeklong, expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.


To apply for this unforgettable experience, students from this year’s 10th and 11th grade classes will submit essays on the subject, “If you were asked to influence other students your age to become more actively involved in their electric cooperative, including attendance at the electric cooperative annual meeting, what would you tell them and why.” One worthy essay will be chosen and its author will represent Nodak in our national capitol next summer.


Fifty years ago, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association began coordinating youth tours in Washington, D.C. While still a senator from Texas, Lyndon Baines Johnson inspired the idea of the youth tour by suggesting that youngsters be sent to the national capitol “where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.” The first years of the tour included approximately 400 young people from 12 states. Today, more than 1,500 students and more than 250 chaperones participate in the youth tour annually.


Youth tour directors from each state will arrange visits with their state’s U.S. representatives and senators’ offices, federal agencies and other educational and sightseeing activities. Student delegates get a chance to see their national capitol up close, learn about the political process and interact with their elected officials, while gaining an understanding of American history and their role as a citizen. They may even have some fun while participating in this valuable leadership experience.


During the youth tour, one student from each state is selected for the prestigious opportunity to serve on NRECA’s Youth Leadership Council. That individual will join the other members of the Youth Leadership Council back in Washington, D.C., again in July to gain a broader understanding of electric cooperatives and the energy industry. During this trip, leadership council members meet with NRECA leaders and youth tour alumni who work on Capitol Hill. One final time, the Youth Leadership Council will gather for about four days at NRECA’s annual meeting the following spring in New Orleans, La.


Since its inception, nearly 50,000 high-achieving students from electric cooperative service areas across America have participated in this program. Many youth tour alumni have gone on to lead companies, serve our country in the highest ranks of government, and to other promising careers.


If you meet the eligibility requirements and are interested in applying to become a part of this prestigious group of young people, send us a submission following the guidelines found on page 8, or call Gretchen Schmaltz at our office with any questions you may have.


Good luck and we look forward to reading your essays.


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