2024 Member Appreciation Open House

Mark your calendar with our Littlefork and Baudette member appreciation open house dates! They will be held on Thursday, June 6, in Littlefork, and Friday, June 7, in Baudette, each day from 11 am to 2 pm. The linemen will be grilling brats for lunch, and we will have door prizes for both kids and adults! Hope to see you there!

2024 Knowledge Scholarship Winners

The 2024 Knowledge Scholarship competition has been completed!  Thank you to all who participated and congratulations to these winners!

  • $500 scholarship – Marie Hanley – Littlefork-Big Falls High School
  • $500 scholarship – Megan Hanley – Littlefork-Big Falls High School
  • $500 scholarship – Taylar Fish – Lake of the Woods High School
  • $500 scholarship – Daniel Sopkowiak – Lake of the Woods High School
  • $500 scholarship – Kayman Sonstegard – Lake of the Woods High School
  • $500 scholarship – Ashley Splett – Littlefork-Big Falls High School
  • $500 scholarship – Samuel Decker – New Prague High School

Rollout of EPA rules threatens electric reliability, affordability

Final power plant rules create concerns for North Star Electric Cooperative

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a series of final power plant rules on April 25 that threaten to impact the reliability and affordability of electricity for North Star Electric Cooperative members and many others across the United States.

Minnkota Power Cooperative, North Star’s wholesale power provider, has major concerns with the unworkable timelines and requirements included in rules targeting greenhouse gas emissions, mercury emissions and coal combustion residuals. These rules have the potential to push the nation’s fleet of reliable power plants toward retirement at a time when the electric grid is already facing reliability challenges.

“While we are in the process of evaluating these final EPA power plant rules, it is clear they will have significant impacts on electric grid reliability and affordability,” said Mac McLennan, Minnkota president and CEO. “These rules set our nation on a dangerous path forward that will likely result in more blackouts, rising costs and greater uncertainty at a time when dependable electricity is needed more than ever.”

Minnkota has a longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship. From 2007 to 2011, approximately $425 million was invested in emissions control technology at the coal-based Milton R. Young Station, which serves as the backbone of the cooperative’s power supply portfolio. Additionally, more than 40% of Minnkota’s power generation capacity is already derived from carbon-free resources, including wind and hydropower.

In its greenhouse gas rule, EPA has mandated power plant operators choose between installing carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technology or selecting a path toward facility closure. For the past nine years, Minnkota has been proactively developing Project Tundra – an initiative to build one of the world’s largest CO2 capture facilities at the Young Station. Up to 4 million metric tons of CO2 would be captured annually before being safely and permanently stored approximately one mile underground – the equivalent of taking 800,000 gasoline-fueled vehicles off the road.

“Despite the progress made on Project Tundra and our optimism about its future, these rules create a significant amount of uncertainty that will need to be navigated and better understood prior to a final decision,” McLennan said. “Minnkota will need to closely examine whether the final rule is achievable, even with Project Tundra.”

The EPA rules are being developed at a critical time. America’s leading grid operators and regulators have been sounding the alarm recently on their growing concerns around the reliability of electricity supply. In its Minnesota and North Dakota service area, Minnkota faces challenges in how it provides resilient electricity in extreme cold conditions. Both wind and solar have historically faced major operational challenges in harsh winter conditions. During these times, the cooperative’s coal-based resources have been essential in maintaining grid stability at a time when member-consumers would face life-threatening conditions without electricity.

“We should not have to choose between grid reliability and decarbonization,” McLennan said. “We can address these priorities at the same time, but we need to approach them with caution and common sense. We will need both technology and time well beyond what EPA is mandating. Unfortunately, these rules will likely serve to stifle innovation and take environmental solutions off the table.”

Check out the SmartHub® redesign!

North Star Electric Cooperative is excited to announce the launch of its revamped online account management tool, SmartHub®. The new and improved SmartHub introduces a fresh look and enhanced functionality while maintaining the reliability members have come to expect.

The SmartHub web application recently underwent a comprehensive redesign, focusing on a more user-friendly design to elevate the overall experience. The most noticeable change is the streamlined and intuitive user interface, offering easy navigation and immediate access to essential features. The home screen has undergone a transformation, now presenting a cleaner appearance that gives end-users immediate access to payment processing, issue reporting, and usage history.

The technological foundation of SmartHub has also undergone significant improvements, enhancing security and adaptability for future integrations and enhancements. Users will also observe improved consistency between the SmartHub app and its web counterpart, ensuring a uniform experience across platforms.

Access SmartHub by visiting northstarelectric.smarthub.coop or by downloading the app on your mobile device through the Apple App Store (iOS devices) or Google Play Marketplace (Android devices). Managing your North Star account has never been easier!

Project Tundra Selected for US Department of Energy Funding

Project Tundra reached major milestones in the fourth quarter of 2023 that help position the project for a final decision in the upcoming year. The U.S. Department of Energy announced on Dec. 14 that it has selected Project Tundra as a recipient of funding through the Carbon Capture Demonstration
Projects Program. The funding award is under negotiation for up to $350 million.

“We’re grateful that the Department of Energy recognizes the importance of developing carbon capture systems and is positioning the United States to be a leader in the advancement of this critical clean energy technology,” said Mac McLennan, Minnkota president and CEO. “Innovation is our path forward through the energy transition. Project Tundra has the potential to help pave the way toward a future where electric grid reliability and environmental stewardship go hand in hand.”

The project also received approval of a permit on Oct. 4 that will provide additional space to safely and permanently store carbon dioxide (CO2) near Center, N.D. The Dakota Carbon Center West storage facility has the capacity to store 122 million metric tons of CO2 over a 20-year period. Combined with the already permitted Dakota Carbon Center East storage facility, Project Tundra has the capability to store 222 million metric tons of CO2 over two decades in Oliver County.

The vision for Project Tundra is to advance next generation carbon capture and storage technologies at the Milton R. Young Station, a power generation facility located near Center, N.D. The project is being developed by Minnkota Power Cooperative, TC Energy, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kiewit and its affiliates. Through Project Tundra, up to 4 million metric tons of CO2 are planned to be captured annually from the Young Station and stored in geologic formations approximately one mile underground near the plant site. If Project Tundra moves forward into construction, it will be the largest post-combustion CO2 capture project in the world.

“We remain grateful for the strong support we’ve received from area landowners, the city of Center and Oliver County,” McLennan said. “The science has shown that we have ideal geology to store CO2 in the region, but none of that matters if we don’t build and maintain relationships with the people in the area. We look forward to continued engagement with these stakeholders as Project Tundra moves ahead.”

Project Tundra is currently in its final development phase. The completion of advanced engineering and design work on the carbon capture facility is scheduled for the spring of 2024. A final decision on whether to move forward with the project is expected in mid-2024.

2023 Annual Meeting and Report

Our 2023 Annual Meeting will be held on October 6, 2023, at the Lake of the Woods School in Baudette.  The Annual Report to be presented at the meeting may be viewed here.

This year, our annual meeting will be drive-in style! Registration begins at 4 pm, when you can also pick up your free gift and hot dinner provided by West of Border. Enjoy your dinner in your car, while you wait for the 4:45 pm meeting to begin, which we anticipate to be short. We will draw names for prizes, including a 55″ TV, an Apple iPad, and Apple Watch, and a $100 coloring random winner for kids birth through age 18. We hope to see you there!

Director Candidate Materials Available for District 7

Would you like to serve as a director on the North Star Electric Cooperative Board for your district? North Star Electric is governed by a seven-member board of directors elected by our membership. There are seven districts located within our service area, and any co-op member is welcome to run for an open board position within the district that the member’s primary residence is located. Directors elected will serve a four-year term. This year we will have a director election in District 7…

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2023 Member Appreciation Open House

Mark your calendar with our Littlefork and Baudette member appreciation open house dates! They will be held on Tuesday, June 13, in Littlefork, and Wednesday, June 14, in Baudette, each day from 11 am to 2 pm.  The linemen will be grilling brats for lunch, and we will have door prizes for both kids and adults! Prize drawings at each location will include drawings for $50 Ronnings gift certificates, a Dewalt electric chainsaw, a YETI cooler, and a kids’ electric scooter.  Hope to see you there!

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Inflation Reduction Act

Details of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are being determined, but will include benefits for new construction, remodeling, updating equipment, transportation, and more.  You may benefit through tax incentives and upfront discounts available over the 10-year life of this legislation.  More will be known as the year 2023 progresses.  Here are links with information we know now:

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