News

Arrowhead Cooperative updates members

Brian Larsen


Not all of the gang from Arrowhead Electric could make the annual meeting, but this hardy crew showed up to work and answer questions for members. (L-R, front) Kari Carter, Arrowhead Board Member Sharon Bloomquist, CTC Communications representative Don Carlson, Sara McManus, Rose Thoreson, Arrowhead Board Member Scott Harrison, Lynne Wiitala, Derek Seidel, new Arrowhead Board Member Rollie Adkins. (L-R, back) outgoing Arrowhead Board Member Les Edinger, Aaron Sjogren, Great River Energy guest speaker Gary Connett, John Twiest, Jenny Kartes, Arrowhead Board Member Mike Littfin, Brian Schroeder. 
Staff photo/Brian Larsen Not all of the gang from Arrowhead Electric could make the annual meeting, but this hardy crew showed up to work and answer questions for members. (L-R, front) Kari Carter, Arrowhead Board Member Sharon Bloomquist, CTC Communications representative Don Carlson, Sara McManus, Rose Thoreson, Arrowhead Board Member Scott Harrison, Lynne Wiitala, Derek Seidel, new Arrowhead Board Member Rollie Adkins. (L-R, back) outgoing Arrowhead Board Member Les Edinger, Aaron Sjogren, Great River Energy guest speaker Gary Connett, John Twiest, Jenny Kartes, Arrowhead Board Member Mike Littfin, Brian Schroeder. Staff photo/Brian Larsen With 3,485 members, 4,148 accounts and 2,151 subscribers in its telephone and Internet service, business is good and growing at Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AEC), said Finance and Administration Manager Jenny Kartes.

Kartes and Operations Manager John Twiest gave an upbeat message to the AEC members who attended the June 11 annual membership meeting at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.

Giving a little history, Kartes said the first official meeting of the cooperative took place in 1950, and by 1954 there were 508 customers.

“Over the past 60 years we have grown to serve over 3,500 members located mostly throughout Cook County, with a few in Lake County,” said Kartes.

The day’s featured guest speaker was Gary Connett, director of demand-side management and member services at Great River Energy. Connett said with 28 member co-ops and 910 employees, the mission of GRE was to generate and transmit affordable and sustainable power that met customer needs and didn’t have a negative impact on the environment.

To make electricity said Connett, GRE uses a mix of natural gas, oil, coal, and renewable energy such as wind, water and solar to generate electricity across 4,699 miles of power lines it owns and through its 100 transmission substations. Arrowhead Electric is one of GRE’s 28 members.

Election results

Three board of director seats were open for election. Scott Harrison was re-elected to represent District 6, the Lutsen area. William Huggins will replace District 7 representative Tom Spence who did not run for re-election. Huggins will serve the Tofte- Schroeder area. Rollie Adkins takes over for retiring Les Edinger to represent District 3, the Gunflint Trail area.

Board seats run for three-year terms.

Operation Round Up

Sarah McManus, Operation Round-Up secretary, said members “rounding up” their bills had raised $27,000.

“We received $40,000 in requests. It wasn’t easy to decide who to give awards to,” said McManus, who then presented checks to: Boreal Community Media for $4,200 to use for their website update; Care Partners of Cook County received $3,500 to use to recruit and retain senior ride volunteers; Cook County Community YMCA was given $4,150 to use to build a toddler play yard; Cooperation Station Daycare was awarded $650 to update its outdoor play space; Good Harbor Hill Players received $2,300 to help put on the 2016 Summer Solstice puppet pageant; Sawtooth Mountain Preschool was granted $4,700 to help with tuition assistance for income qualified families; Superior Cycling Association received $2,500 for Britton Peak trail construction; WTIP Community Radio was awarded $5,000 for its WTIP Youth Mentoring project.

The Cook County High School softball team served a free breakfast to members in the high school cafeteria before the meeting, and for their work AEC made a donation of $700 to the team.

Solar Garden

Last October AEC installed a 40kW solar community garden along with Great River Energy’s 20kW solar array behind the Lutsen headquarters. The solar garden was built, in part, to reduce the cooperative’s carbon footprint and to allow renters or homeowners who couldn’t put solar panels on their roofs the option to purchase a panel and utilize solar power.

To date 44 solar panels have been sold to members, said Kartes, with about 100 left to sell. Kartes said the panels have generated approximately 49,500 kilowatt hours so far.

Caring for Broadband and electrical system

With 800 miles of fiber to take care of, John Twiest said his seven-member Arrowhead Cooperative True North Broadband Service crew was busy. The workers that come to homes and businesses to hook-up broadband, “average 6-7 installs per day,” he said.

Currently, said Twiest, AEC has 5,329 meters that are tracked through an automatic meter reading system nicknamed “Turtles.” When it was installed in the early 2000s it was considered state-of-the-art, taking readings every 27 hours and feeding those back to the headquarters in three days, but after 15 years the system is antiquated and will be replaced with one that gives readings every 15 minutes and can be monitored by customers through AEC’s SmartHub, Twiest said.

Kilowatt sales were down 10 percent in 2015 from 2014, but Kartes said based on projections, AEC was only off 1 percent in its 2015 electrical sales predictions. Kartes noted that 2014 was a record cold winter and that was likely the cause of increased electrical usage.

After three years of not raising rates, Kartes said AEC could not continue to absorb rising costs in purchased power and operations, which led to a decision to raise rates 2 percent for 2016.


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