March 2019 CEO Message

Daniel Carlisle
President/CEO

There is a lot happening in the electric business right now. From Washington, D.C. to St. Paul to the TWEC service territory, it seems that a witch’s brew of issues are being vetted. I had the opportunity to attend the Minnesota Rural Electric Association’s (MREA) Annual Meeting in St. Paul in February and, together with several board members, visited with numerous elected officials. Three main issues were brought to the attention of our senators and representatives. 

First, we emphasized the need to update our State Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) requirements to more accurately reflect the current status of our industry. The existing CIP requirements have not changed in over 10 years. They do not adequately consider efficient electrification, electric vehicles, and the fact that current ways to spend our mandated CIP funds are saturated and no longer present viable options to achieve the desired objective. 

Second, we expressed our concern with mandated Renewable Energy Standards (RES) and the stated objective to be 100% carbon free in Minnesota by the year 2050. Our generation supplier, Great River Energy, has already surpassed the renewable standard of having a portfolio consisting of 25% renewables by year 2025. This was achieved by listening to members and allowing market forces to create smart, efficient opportunities to add renewable energy sources to GRE’s portfolio. Mandating renewables, we believe, will alter natural market forces and result in higher electric costs for all of our members. 

Finally, we discussed the concept of third-party sales, which is tantamount to creating an exception to the exclusive service territory law that we have operated under in Minnesota since the early 1970’s. With low population density on rural electric cooperative distribution lines, the possibility of losing members to third party “cherry picking” would result in higher costs to the members who remain.

Closer to home, we are preparing for our Annual Meeting on April 16th. We will be holding an information session before the Annual Meeting begins. We are calling this a “Deep Dive” session. Our inaugural Deep Dive session will feature electric vehicles (EVs). We will explain our EV charging rate, discuss strengths, weaknesses and practical applications for EVs, and will even have several EVs brought in for the event by Tesla and Chevrolet. Plan to join us to learn more about EVs.

Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative staff works hard to stay informed in this fast-paced industry. If you have questions about any of the issues facing our cooperative, please give us a call or stop by to visit. We’d love to see you.

Back Row: Dan Carlisle, Gene Kern, Tom Brichacek, Michael Thorson, Miles Kuschel

Front Row: Kristine Spadgenske, Marie Katterhagen, Abby Rogge, Representative John Poston

Business Spotlight: AgReliant Genetics

As the third largest corn seed company in the United States, AgReliant Genetics has established itself as a leader in seed research, production, and quality, becoming one of the fastest growing independent seed companies in the agriculture industry. The company’s three seed brands (LG, AgriGold, and Pride) bring some of the market’s most competitive products to farmers in the United States and Canada. 

AgReliant’s LG Seeds Western Division sales and distribution offices are located in Wadena. This local production facility conditions approximately 160,000 units of corn and 450,000 units of soybeans each year, employing 60-70 full and part-time people. 

Jon Wensman

“Here in Wadena, our employees have an average of around 18 years of experience per person,” explains Jon Wensman, NW production supervisor at AgReliant. “The people who work here are extremely valuable. We are so fortunate to have such a quality workforce.”

To support AgReliant’s efforts to run as efficiently as possible, Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative helped the company secure several power grants for LED retrofits. This change resulted in better lighting around the machinery and throughout the warehouse. Wensman estimates the company now saves approximately 40 percent on its lighting costs because of the switch to LED lights.

Once a year, Todd-Wadena also assists AgReliant by using thermal imaging to detect potential wiring and mechanical issues. The thermal imaging highlights heat levels. This technology is useful for determining if equipment is over the heat threshold it should be at. As a result of this annual inspection, the company has replaced bearings, wires, and other components that could potentially become a fire hazard or could shut the operation down for a period of time.

“We really value what Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative does for us and for the community,” Wensman says. “We are very grateful for the important relationship with Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative.”

The Cooperative Difference — CEO Message

Daniel Carlisle
President/CEO

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members. As a member of Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative, this means you have the ability to actively participate in how the cooperative is operated – setting policies and making decisions.

Todd-Wadena is both owned and democratically controlled by its membership. If you receive power from TWEC, you are a cooperative member. Governing the cooperative is a seven-member board of directors, elected by the membership at TWEC’s Annual Meeting. These seven directors are accountable to and serve as representatives of the members of our cooperative.

I would like to encourage all of our members to attend TWEC’s Annual Meeting coming up on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019 at the Maslowski Wellness & Research Center in Wadena. Members attending the meeting will have an opportunity to actively participate in the governance of our cooperative. By taking part in the democratic election process, you help determine the future of the cooperative.

Another way rural electric cooperatives differ from other types of businesses is that we operate as not-for-profit entities. Here at TWEC, we’ve built out the necessary infrastructure and continue to bring electricity to people in primarily rural areas. In many cases, we are delivering electricity to areas that municipal and investor-owned utilities have determined are not cost-effective to serve. As a result, our revenue per mile of line is substantially lower. Despite this challenge, we are committed to serving our rural population, providing people with both affordable and reliable power.

The cooperative’s rates are set to bring in enough money to pay operating costs, make payments on any loans, provide reserves, and pay back capital credits. At the end of each calendar year, operating expenses are subtracted from total revenue. Net margin is then allocated to each member as capital credits, paid out over time.

I am thankful to be a part of Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative, bringing electricity to our community. The way we operate our business is different, and that difference allows us to best serve you – our member-owners.

Director Candidates Selected

The 2019 Nominating Committee met on January 15th to select candidates for the 2019 director elections. 

The terms of office of two directors expire at the Annual Meeting on April 16th, 2019 and the following persons were selected as candidates for such offices in terms expiring in 2022:

Mike Thorson (I)
Brad Swenson
Marie Katterhagen (I)
Steve Meech

 

The office of Norman Krause’s term will expire in 2020 (due to his retirement). The following persons were selected as candidates for such office in the term expiring in 2020:

Kristine Spadgenske (I)
Steve Riewer

 

Profiles of each of the candidates will be printed in the March issue of Pine to Prairie. They will also be enclosed in ballot packets that will be sent to all members. Ballot packets with voting instructions will be mailed to members in March from Survey and Ballot Systems based out of Eden Prairie. Survey and Ballot Systems will also receive, scan, and tabulate ballots that members complete and return using the pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes provided. Alternative options will include electronic voting and on-site voting at the Annual Meeting on April 16th.


How to Vote Online

Using SmartHub

  • You will need a SmartHub account.
  • Log in to your SmartHub account.
  • Look for a button in the upper right corner labeled  “Vote Now.”

Using Directvote

  • There will be a link to the DirectVote site on the paper ballot and passcodes to access the voting website directly.