Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 20 NO. 11  -  November 2017

CEO Report


I’ve been down to GRE a few times for manager meetings since taking the helm at NIECI. The big discussion lately has been about batteries. I’m not talking about running a clock, or firing up a flashlight.

One of the members of GRE is researching a substation battery to the tune of 20 MWh. That is roughly twice the size of our heaviest loaded substation, Bigfork. This battery is like installing a few hundred load control devices all at once, not on the member side of the meter. This battery will be hooked to the substation and during a billing peak event they could switch to battery power. In turn, this is a buy low and sell high event.

This technology sounds good, but it could cost NIECI roughly $19,625 because this one member is trying to shave their peak, in turn the other 19 members of GRE will have a large amount of money to cover. I have been working with the other 19 members and our board to prevent us from absorbing these costs. I will keep you informed as information develops on this unique situation.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit with several of our member-owners across our service territory. I’m having the chance to hear the concerns you have. I’m listening and we are working to keep costs in check. I heard the best explanation of a Co-op only a couple months ago. One gentleman explained it like this; electrons flowing down the line are a choice of yours on how much to buy. You can turn lights off, you can turn the heat down, you could even turn your breaker off and not use any electricity.

What we don’t have a choice about is the fixed costs. We must clear right-of-way, we still must do all the accounting in the office, we still repair and replace lines, and there always seem to be outages. These are fixed costs that are spread between roughly 5,300 member-owners. Lake Country Power to our south has roughly 48,542 members, Dakota Electric way down south has roughly 104,380 members. We have similar tasks, reports, and requirements to both those Co-ops. North Itasca Electric Cooperative has fewer member-owners to spread these costs between, this is where we need to be diligent, saving costs where we can, we are working hard on this. One thing I wish to make clear; out of the 5,327 member-owners we have on the system at NIECI, 2,609 are “residential,” 2401 are “seasonal,” one “irrigation,” 307 are “light commercial/business,” nine are “street lighting.” Each of these accounts are members, everyone on the system has an equal vote, and with that, equal responsibility for the well-being of our electric Co-op.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I feel like I have plenty of reasons to be thankful! I have enjoyed my time in the community, my friends and family are coming to visit this weekend. We’re going to explore the area and hopefully find one or two of those elusive partridge. One of my favorite holidays will be here before I know it, deer season! Deer season to me is a time to catch up with friends and family. We get to play a few rounds of cards, listen to stories about the good old days, and just relax. I wish you all the best of luck hunting, be safe, aim small/miss small.

By your side,
Brad Dolinski

Return to the November 2017 Issue