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 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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2023 Knowledge Scholarships

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!

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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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A solid energy plan for a volatile winter

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.”