Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 17 NO. 1  -  January 2014

Cold Weather Rule Notification   |   Energy Assistance Programs

Budget approved...no rate increase for 2014 

by Jared Echternach, CEO

I’d like to pass along some good news. Your board of directors has approved a 2014 budget that calls for a zero percent rate increase to our members. We received notice late this fall that Great River Energy would not increase rates in 2014 and that our other power supplier, Minnkota Power, projects a one percent rate increase. The good news is that we can absorb the wholesale rate increase at our present rate structure and maintain our financial targets as required by our lenders. I’d like to compliment our employees and directors for holding down costs and approving a budget that includes roughly $1.3 million in work plan projects to improve your distribution system, while holding rates steady.


Update: Great Northern Transmission Line 

by Sally Sedgwick

At its Dec. 19 meeting, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission accepted the Minnesota Power Certificate of Need application for the Great Northern Transmission Line as substantially complete and moved it to a contested case hearing procedure before an administrative law judge.

As part of that process, public hearings will be held. Newspapers within Itasca and southern Koochiching counties that will receive notices on the time and location of hearings include the Herald Review, Western Itasca Review, Scenic Range NewsForum and Northome Area News.

According to PUC staff briefing papers, about 25 public comments including one petition were received during the initial comment period from mid-October to mid-November, 2013. Public comments generally dealt with routing issues including environmental impacts. A group of retail customers were concerned about cost, reliability, industrial load growth and demand for renewable generation. A group of regional utilities including Great River Energy discussed a 500 kV alternative transmission line as part of a MISO (Midwest Independent System Operator) planning process called the Western Option that would meet Minnesota Power’s needs and might have other benefits.


Roxanne's Sales Talk 

by Roxanne Prather, sales assistant

I want to thank everyone for taking the time out of your busy schedules to come out and see us during our very wintery Christmas Open House! It wasn't very nice weather outside, but it was warm inside with good company and the hot coffee, cider and rolls.

It was so nice to see everyone and since some of you only make it in once a year, I enjoyed catching up. So, thanks again for braving the slippery snow-covered roads to come in and make it a great Open House.

We would like to also give a big Thank You to Santa Claus for making the cold trip on the fire truck Friday night to come and see everyone. It was much appreciated. It is always fun to see the looks on the kid's faces when he is talking to them. I'm sure he has his work cut out trying to fill everyone's orders.


World Café discussion in Bigfork 

by Dr. Ed Anderson

The first ever Edge of the Wilderness World Café was well attended and a great success. World Café is a small group discussion format around a common theme which invites and encourages ideas from all participants. Over 30 people attended the event at the Bigfork Fire Hall on Monday, Dec. 9 and discussed ideas around the theme of “Continuing the Story of the Edge of the Wilderness.”

Dr. Ed Anderson opened the meeting with a description of how the idea evolved. A group of area leaders who attended a Blandin Community Leadership Program (BCLP) in 2013 felt that there was a need for a format in which local issues and ideas can be discussed in a way that invites participation from a wide variety of people and which embraces both opportunities and challenges in our community.


Family Fun Ski Days 

Skinny skis – those are the cross country skis that allow you and your family to enjoy the winterscape from outside the window.

And there’s a group of enthusiasts hoping to help you get started.

Family Fun Ski days have been scheduled at the Turtle Lake Trails – groomed private trails through the woods north of Marcell on Saturdays, Jan. 11, 25 and Feb. 8 from 1-3 p.m. The trails are located at 40742 Turtle Lake Rd (Co. Rd 43).

Skiers of all skill levels are welcome. No skills? No skis? A desire to learn is all that is required. If you need equipment, contact Catherine McLynn at (218) 326-1313 or email cat@mclynn.net with foot size, age and height.

Fun days will include skills drills, relays, games, word scramble and treasure hunts. There will be level terrain for beginners and hills for the more adventuresome. Cocoa and cookies will be in the warming house - free will offering.

Voyageurs Classic Sled Dog Race Jan.10, 11 

Plans are finalized for this year’s Voyageur Classic Sled Dog Race to be held January 10 and 11. Race activities will be held at the Northome School.

"We are excited to have the race in a new format this year with all races starting at Northome, said Race Marshal Dan Bergerson. “Since safety of the mushers and dogs is our primary concern, the early snow helped make good trail conditions."

8-Dog Pro Race

Running for a combined prize purse of $6,000, the 8-Dog Pro mushers will leave at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11. They will go 70 miles and have one required rest. Racers will finish at Northome on Saturday between 5 and 8:30 p.m. That race can be viewed at Northome or at Barney’s Resort on Sand Lake between 1 and 3 p.m. Barney's is located on County Highway 4 west of Spring Lake and is the turn-around point and required rest stop.


February 2014 Calendar of Events 

4 Statewide caucus day. Caucuses start at 7 p.m. Want to know where your precinct caucus is? Visit the Minnesota Secretary of State page at sos.state.mn.us
6 Storytelling at the Marcell Town Hall 6:30 p.m. Subject is "pets you have had or a trip you always wanted to take"
8 Annual Meeting of the North Woods Craft Store in the Northome Senior Apartments Community Room, 10 a.m. All members and guests welcome, refreshments served.
8 Family Fun Ski Day at Turtle Lake Trails, 40742 Turtle Lake Rd Co 43, 1-3 p.m. Need equipment? Call Catherine McLynn, 326-1314 or email to cat@mclynn.net.
10 Women of the Woods meet at 10 a.m. at Sand Lake Community Center. Call Pat Sievertson at 659-2157 or Marlys Maki at 659-2901
10 Deer River School Board meets, 6 p.m., public forum before meeting.
10 Blackduck School Board meets, 7 p.m.
11 Stop and Stitch at Marcell Family Center. Bring sack lunch, project and $1, come and go. 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Contact Rhonda 259-9220 or Judy at 832-3237.
11 Evergreen Friendship Club meets at noon at a local restaurant. For more info, call 659-2683