Capital Credit Retirement

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We paid just more than $600,000 of capital credits this month. If you have an active account, there was a credit on your September bill. Inactive accounts will still receive a check, but to save money, active members are getting a bill credit.

The difference between a cooperative, like North Star Electric Cooperative, and other utilities is that we are nonprofit, meaning any money left after the bills are paid is returned to the member. These “margins” are assigned to members based on their usage and are retained for a period of time to help fund system improvements and provide equity needed to secure long-term debt. North Star has returned about $10.6 million of capital credits over the years, which is about half of the total capital credits. We are committed to demonstrating the advantages of being a cooperative member. Thank you for your patronage and support.


International Falls Area Pole Testing

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Our pole tester, Scott Cooper, is in the International Falls service area this month. He will be testing poles in the area on this map, which includes the Rainy Lake area, as well as areas south, east, and west of International Falls.  He frequently travels on 4-wheeler, but also has North Star signage on his vehicle.  Just keeping you in the loop…

pole testing map

Interest High in EPA’s Proposed Carbon Rule

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Comments are flooding in on the heels of the Obama administration’s June announcement of the United States’ first proposed rule to cut carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed that existing plants reduce carbon dioxide by an average of 30 percent – compared to 2005 levels – by 2030. North Dakota’s reduction goal is to cut CO2 emissions by 10.6 percent.

North Star Electric’s wholesale energy provider, Minnkota Power Cooperative, is concerned about the proposed rule. 

“This is obviously an important issue for Minnkota and other electric cooperatives in this country,” said Mac McLennan, Minnkota president & CEO. “We hope the consumers in our system will go to to learn more and submit official comments on the proposed rule to the EPA.”

The EPA is accepting comments on the proposal until Oct 16.

Two-day public hearings were held in Denver, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh the week of July 28. Interest in the meetings was strong, with speaker slots for Denver, Atlanta and Washington filling up well in advance.

Minnkota Environmental Manager John Graves was one of 388 speakers at the Denver location. An EPA spokesperson said a combined 1,322 people spoke at the four regional meeting locations. All hearings were two days.

“The first concern is that the EPA has based the required CO2 reductions upon the reductions potentially available by the states utilizing four building blocks,” Graves told the EPA. “Of those four building blocks, three of them are ‘outside the fence,’ which we do not believe is permissible under Section 111(d).”

 Graves also said Minnkota is concerned about the length of time before states must submit their State Implementation Plans (SIPs).

 “The guidelines require states to submit their SIPs to the EPA by June of 2016, although a one-year extension is possible,” he said. “Even with the extension, this time frame is too short. Most states took three years to prepare an SIP for the regional haze program, which is a relatively straightforward program compared to this program. States need more time.”

 Minnkota and North Star Electric continue to analyze the proposal, dubbed the “Clean Power Plan,” for its possible effects on the reliability and affordability of electricity for cooperative members and the region at large. Minnkota, like all utilities, interacts with the larger energy market to ensure its members have a dependable and low-cost supply of energy.

Minnkota and North Star Electric have invested more than $425 million into environmental upgrades at the Milton R. Young Station near Center, N.D. Total investment in the clean coal technology at North Dakota’s eight coal-based power plants is more than $2 billion.