Looking to the Future with Electric Vehicles

If you are considering purchasing a new car and are looking at an electric vehicle (EV) as a serious option, it is important to understand how an electric vehicle can lead to different sources of spending and saving when compared to conventional gas engines.

The decision is getting easier to make every year. Between operational cost savings and the fact you can install a personal, at-home charging station, owning an EV means no more trips to the mechanic or gas station. Government rebates on the purchase of a new EV can help sweeten the deal.

Choosing to go elecric-powered instead of gas-powered can lead to significant long-term savings. A 2018 study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that electric vehicles cost less than half as much to operate as gas-powered cars. The average cost to operate an EV in the United States is $485 per year, while the average for a gasoline-powered vehicle is $1,117. The exact price difference would depend on current gas and electric rates, as well as the type of car you drive.

TWEC has two different rates available to members. Our storage rate is a very low cost per kWh, but charging can only take place in a limited window. While our time-of-use rate allows charging at any time, certain times of day are more expensive than others. See the chart below and the example usage patterns for a year of driving.


TWEC Electric Vehicle Rates Compared

The average driver puts on approximately 15,000 miles a year, which would require approximately 4,500 kWh’s of charging. Using our Storage Rate, which only allows charging from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. for 4.3¢/kWh, you would spend an estimated amount of  $193 annually. On our Time-of-Use Rate, assuming 10% charging on-peak at 30¢/kWh, with the remainder charging off-peak at 6.95¢/kWh, you would spend an estimated amount of $416 annually. 


 

Staying Safe Around Electricity

Daniel Carlisle
President/CEO

Here at Todd-Wadena, electrical safety is a top priority year-round. We are committed to keeping our employees, members, and the public safe. To recognize this ongoing commitment to safety and to bring additional awareness about safety-related issues, we celebrate Electrical Safety Month each May.

Heading into storm season this spring, it is important to remember to stay safe around downed electric lines. If you see a line on the ground, always assume the line is energized and dangerous. Please contact us immediately if you come across a downed line or notice any other electrical safety hazard.

Working around electricity can be dangerous, which is why we prioritize a culture of safety here at the cooperative. We follow national safety best practices for the utility industry. Our lineworkers are required to wear specialized equipment to keep them safe when working next to or with power lines. Delivering affordable and reliable electricity to our members is important, but even more important is making sure our workers return home safely at the end of the day. To do this requires ongoing training and vigilance.

You can do your part by helping to keep our crews safe when they are out working near roadways. Please slow down and, if possible, move over when you see our crews on the side of the road. Minnesota legislation requires that drivers slow down, maintain a safe speed for traffic conditions, and operate the vehicle at a reduced speed until safely past parked utility or emergency vehicles.

Have a safe and enjoyable spring!

 

79th Annual Meeting a Success

With over 350 members and guests in attendance, Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative celebrated its 79th Annual Meeting at Wadena’s Maslowski Wellness and Research Center on Tuesday, April 16th.

In the board of director elections, Nominating Committee Chair Virginia Noska announced that incumbents Marie Katterhagen and Michael Thorson were re-elected for a three-year term. Noska also announced that incumbent Kristine Spadgenske was elected for a one-year term. Spadgenske was appointed to the board in January 2019 to fill a vacancy. An organizational meeting, held immediately following the Annual Meeting, resulted in the following officers re-elected: Tom Brichacek as Vice Chair and Marie Katterhagen as Secretary. Miles Kuschel was selected as Chair and Dale Adams was selected as Treasurer.

In his chairman’s message, Michael Thorson spoke to the members about the change in management as Robin Doege submitted his resignation and how the Board came to offer the position of CEO to Dan Carlisle. Thorson also explained how the polar vortex that came through Minnesota in January 2019 affected not only TWEC, but also Great River Energy (GRE) and the MISO market.

Members watched a video from 2018 Youth Tour Representative Kaija Weishalla, a junior at Bertha-Hewitt, about her trip to Washington, D.C. Weishalla was unable to attend the meeting in person, but she did thank the members in her video and shared some of her experiences from the trip.

David Ranallo, manager of marketing and member services at Great River Energy, attended the meeting to share information about beneficial electrification and different power sources. He presented a $1,000 check to be donated from GRE to the cooperative’s Community Trust Fund (Operation Round Up program), which benefits local organizations.

The Member Services report was given by Allison Uselman. She shared facts about rebates, and gave a recap of the top events which were held in 2018. Uselman also released the new Electric Vehicle Charging Rate which is now available to members. Lisa Graba-Meech reported on the cooperative’s stable financial status.

Dan Carlisle, TWEC President/CEO, spoke about change within the cooperative and around the state. Carlisle will continue to manage change to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to members.

Following the meeting, members and guests were treated to a dinner catered by Maasconi’s in Verndale. Many gift card door prizes were given away, including three cash prizes.

New Wave Agriculture Opportunities – April 2019 CEO Message

Daniel Carlisle
President/CEO

Our Member Services team has been busy pursuing an interesting opportunity this month. Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative’s power supplier, Great River Energy (GRE), and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) have teamed up to solicit applications for a two-year indoor agriculture growing experiment. The project will utilize a modified shipping container pod that will be fully equipped with heat growing lights and a hydroponic system. The successful rural electric cooperative that is awarded the project will need a local partner to pay for a portion of the project costs and to provide labor to monitor and harvest the produce that is grown. TWEC is interested in the project not only because it will provide a nice additional electric load for our system, but also because it will help us to better understand how our electric distribution system could function if this type of load becomes accepted and is more common in the future.

Central Lakes College (CLC) has agreed to be involved in the project and to provide a site for the self-contained agricultural pod to be located. The site must have water and electricity available. The college has a pod-ready site available that meets this requirement. Lakewood Health System of Staples has also joined in as a partner in this application. Lakewood has an established outreach program for food nutrition in the area and its cafeteria facility will provide an end-use consumption point.

Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative’s Member Services staff has devoted numerous hours to refining the application submission to GRE. The final product will include a written application, video testimonials from our project partners, and many sound reasons why our cooperative should be selected to host this exciting project. We expect the winning cooperative to be announced in early April. We are hopeful that you will be seeing a new wave, high-tech, agriculture produce-growing pod in our service territory by mid-summer. Wish us luck!

Daniel Carlisle
President/CEO

Right-of-Way and Spraying

When you become a member of Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative (TWEC), you are agreeing to abide by all co-op policies. TWEC’s tree trimming policy is: primary lines (other than those in yards) will be maintained a minimum of 20 feet horizontal clearance on each side of the pole line from the ground up. Overhead primary lines located in members’ yards are maintained 10 feet minimum horizontal right-of-way on each side of the pole line. On three-phase power lines located in members’ yards, the right-of-way must be maintained 10 feet from outside lines and 10 feet below the neutral line.

With this policy, TWEC can responsibly provide safe and reliable energy to our members. Outside of the right-of-way we also look for “danger trees”. These are dead or leaning trees that will touch the line if they fall, causing an outage or blinking lights.

This year, TWEC plans on mowing and spraying three substations: Compton, Aldrich, and Leaf River. TWEC has contracted this service out to Central Applicators. Central Applicators will notify the members in those areas on the timeline of the spraying via mail.

TWEC Arborist, Joe Sworski, is responsible for lining up work for both TWEC crews and Carr’s Tree Service, which consists of side trimming, removals, and mowing.

Our goal is to reach all areas of our system once every 10 years, without going from spot to spot. With this schedule, we are able to keep the lights on and the blink count minimal.

Thanks for your cooperation in the ongoing quest for a clear right-of-way.

Todd Miller
Operations Manager

Right-of-way Clearances

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.