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.