What is North Star Electric Cooperative?
North Star is a non-profit cooperative that was formed in 1940 for the sole purpose of providing electricity to rural north central Minnesota, including areas of Lake of the Woods, Koochiching, Roseau and St. Louis counties — areas that no power company would serve. Today this cooperative serves over 5,400 members (more than 6,500 accounts) with over 1,444 miles of power lines between Warroad and Orr, and employs 21 people. Everyone who purchases electricity from the cooperative is a member.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Annual meetings are held every fall, usually the first Friday in October. At the annual meeting, members elect their representatives on the board of directors. Each summer, the members are reminded in the newsletter about the election process and how to become a candidate. Petitions are due at the co-op at least 60 days before the annual meeting, as required in the cooperative’s bylaws.
The board generally meets the first Wednesday of each month. Detailed minutes are available at the cooperative for member review. Board meeting summaries are printed in the Enlightener, our monthly newsletter. If you wish to speak with the board or have an item that you would like placed on the agenda, please contact the General Manager at least two weeks in advance to be included on the agenda.
District Map – Click here to view our district map.
All members have the right to vote for their board representative. The current board members are Steve Arnesen (Roosevelt), Randy Bergan (Williams), Mike Hanson (Birchdale), Lorraine Nygaard (Big Falls), Bruce Sampson (Ray), Tom Smith (International Falls), and Shelley Spears (Baudette). Each director serves approximately 775 members. If you would like to contact your board member, please call 888-634-2202.
The board is a democratically elected body nominated and voted into position by members of the cooperative. There are seven districts within our service area. Any co-op member (in good standing) is welcome to run for an open board position within the district the member’s primary residence is located.
Board meetings are generally held the first Wednesday of each month beginning at 9:30 am, and meetings typically last between three and four hours. There are several educational opportunities for directors throughout the year, and obtaining an NRECA (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association) Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate within a director’s first term is required as qualification for a subsequent term. Directors are encouraged to become educated on topics that will serve the membership, including legislative issues, finance, capital credits, governance, and more. Directors are expected to be available to the members and communicate with them on cooperative issues. Directors receive up to $300 per meeting day, plus expense reimbursement, for their service.
The board hired Ann Ellis in 2015 as the Cooperative’s General Manager. She is assisted by her staff: Robyn Sonstegard (Finance Manager), Kevin Holen (Member Services Manager), and Marty Mollberg (Operations Manager).
The cooperative publishes the Enlightener every month. It is mailed to every member and posted on this website. Members signed up for email bill notifications every month also receive an electronic link to the monthly newsletter. The September issue is the Annual Report. Each publication focuses on issues impacting the cooperative. Board meeting summaries, staff reports, electrical safety awareness, energy conservation suggestions, and opportunities to deliver the best energy value are among the highlights.
Where Your Power Comes From
North Star and 10 other rural electric cooperatives in northwest Minnesota and eastern North Dakota own Minnkota Power Cooperative, a G&T (Generation & Transmission cooperative), headquartered in Grand Forks, ND. Minnkota’s electric generation portfolio includes a diverse mix of coal, wind, and hydro resources. (See www.minnkota.com) In terms of nameplate electric generation capacity, about 55% is derived from coal, 34% from wind, 8% from hydro, and 3% from other resources. Minnkota participates in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) wholesale energy market to both buy and sell surplus power. MISO is a not-for-profit, member-based organization.