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…Continue reading
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!Continue reading
The 2023 Knowledge Scholarship competition has been completed! Thank you to all who participated and congratulations to these winners!Continue reading
It’s that time of year for our Knowledge Scholarship program! Representatives from North Star will soon be visiting schools in Indus, Littlefork, International Falls, Warroad, and Baudette to provide information to students about this scholarship opportunity!Continue reading
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:Continue reading
Nation’s electric grid could face winter challenges
The increasing demand for electricity and the retirement of reliable power plants are contributing to an “unprecedented” risk of power shortages across the United States this winter, according to a report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).Continue reading
North Star members should prepare for increased demand response hours this season
If you’re a member enrolled in your co-op’s off-peak (or demand response) program, knowing the “why” behind the moments your dual fuel heating is temporarily switched is likely important to you – especially during the long, cold months of winter. Our power supplier, Minnkota Power Cooperative, makes the decision of when to shift off-peak members to their backup heat source for a variety of reasons, but it all comes down to affordability and reliability.
In a typical winter season, Minnkota tries to keep its demand response hours managed to 250 hours. This year, the goal is the same, but there will be unique obstacles to overcome in order to meet it. One of those challenges is a three-month planned maintenance outage on Unit 2 of the Young Station, one of the largest sources of power for Minnkota’s members.
“The outage is at beginning of the season, September into December, which is generally a light demand response period for us. The outage has the potential to increase our hours at the beginning of the season,” said Dan Trebil, Minnkota’s energy supply manager. “That, combined with the volatile energy market that we’re seeing, is going to play a part in how close we are able to manage to that 250-hour level.”
When Minnkota needs additional energy to meet the needs of its members (perhaps when there’s no wind for the turbines and demand is extremely high), it looks to purchase energy from a regional market. Over the past few months, that market has seen dramatic spikes in price – something Minnkota tries to avoid to protect its membership.
“The biggest things that are playing into the volatility are transmission constraints in our area, as well as the price of natural gas,” Trebil explained. “Right now, the price of natural gas is actually the lowest it’s been in the past few months. That was somewhat anticipated, but it’s also anticipated that it will go back up come December or January.”
It’s important for members to prepare now for increased demand response this winter. Individuals with off-peak dual fuel heating systems should check that they have adequate fuel for their backup source (propane, fuel oil, etc.). Off-peak members are sometimes caught by surprise when demand response kicks in for the first time, especially when it’s early in the season.
Remember that your co-op’s demand response program is a win-win-win for all involved. Enrolled members are thanked with a reduced electric rate (and no interruption in comfort), the co-op can navigate high-demand days while avoiding expensive market purchases, and the entire regional grid benefits from reduced demand.
“We’re in an interconnected system,” Trebil said. “When the grid gets into a potentially unstable situation, it’s because of tight conditions between generation and demand. So we’re able to respond in those situations with our demand response to not only help us and our members, but the grid as a whole. Lowering our demand helps balance the entire footprint.”
Recently signed Inflation Reduction Act will help accelerate energy projects such as Minnkota’s Project Tundra carbon capture initiative.
Minnkota Power Cooperative and its cooperative partners across the country will have access to important new tools to navigate the energy transition following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill, signed into law on Aug. 16, includes provisions to accelerate the development of technologies needed to meet ambitious environmental goals.
“The electric cooperative-focused provisions in this bill have the potential to drive energy innovation forward at a pace we’ve never seen before,” said Mac McLennan, Minnkota president and CEO. “Now the real work begins to ensure that the industry is carefully planning for a responsible energy transition that includes the continued operation of baseload and dispatchable resources. As we enter one of the most transformational periods in our industry’s history, we continue to support an all-of-the-above energy strategy that preserves reliable, affordable and resilient electricity for our membership, while also answering the call to significantly lower CO2 emissions.”
One of the most substantial provisions is the creation of a “direct payment” option for electric cooperatives to utilize energy tax credits. Historically, co-ops have not had direct access to those credits because of their not-for-profit status. With passage of this legislation, co-ops will have a level playing field with for-profit utilities, which have long enjoyed tax credits to develop wind, solar and other renewable energy projects. The bill contains investment tax credits and production tax credits for solar, wind, carbon capture, nuclear, manufacturing of clean energy components and other energy technologies.
In addition to the direct-pay incentives, the 45Q tax credit for carbon capture and sequestration was increased from $50 per ton to $85 per ton. This increase provides a significant boost to the economics of the Minnkota-led Project Tundra carbon capture initiative. The project is currently in the advanced engineering phase and is being designed to capture and store 4 million metric tons of CO2 annually. A decision on whether to move forward with the project is anticipated in 2023.
“The carbon capture provisions included in this bill will be a game changer for the development and deployment of this much-needed technology,” McLennan said.
Electric cooperatives will also benefit from a $9.7 billion grant and loan program through the USDA to develop clean energy systems. The program is specifically designed for co-ops to advance renewable energy, storage, carbon capture, nuclear and other projects that will lower greenhouse gas emissions and otherwise aid disadvantaged rural communities.
For McLennan, the passage of this bill represents decades of work by electric cooperatives across the country. In fact, he recalls advocating for similar direct-pay provisions during the early 2000s while working at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
As this massive bill moved through Congress, McLennan said he is grateful that electric cooperative priorities made it to the finish line.
“On behalf of Minnkota, I would like to express our appreciation for Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar for their leadership and commitment to helping rural America participate in a responsible transition to a lower-carbon future,” McLennan said.
Recently, we have received many calls from members that have had phone calls from someone claiming to be from North Star, telling them their bill is past due and they need to make payment immediately or their power will be turned off. THIS IS A SCAM! Scammers typically stress the need for members to act quickly. We strongly urge members to protect themselves and just hang up. If you receive such a call, do not give out any personal or financial information!