Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 17 NO. 2  -  February 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.


Coming... Co-op Connections® Card 

Coming in 2014, North Itasca Electric Co-op members will be receiving a Co-op Connections® card along with their electric bill. What are Co-op Connections® cards? These cards offer residential members valuable discounts at participating local businesses and retailers, as well as discounts at many national and online businesses.

Co-op Connections Card

Some of its advantages are:

  • Save members money.
  • Builds member loyalty.
  • Creates a greater sense of membership for local cooperative members.
  • Improves relationships with businesses by recruiting them to participant in promoting their own businesses.
  • Build your local co-op brand.
  • Be a part of a national program.
  • Increases the value members get from participating in Touchstone Energy.

Local PUC hearings on Great Northern line 

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has announced public hearings in February for the Great Northern Transmission Line. The GNTL is planned to travel from the Canadian border to Blackberry Substation, bringing Canadian hydropower into the Minnesota Power system. The high voltage line would require a 200 foot easement and several of the current routes under consideration pass by Northome, Effie and the Scenic area east of Highway 7 near Bigfork.

Hearings are scheduled:

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 6 p.m.
The Sanford Center, Bemidji
1111 Event Center Drive

Thursday Feb. 20, 6 p.m.
The Sawmill, Grand Rapids
2301 S. Highway 169


Cow Calf Days 

The Minnesota Beef Team is coming to Grand Rapids in its annual winter tour of the state presenting the annual Cow/Calf Days in 10 locations. It’s an opportunity to hear about the latest practical research results in cattle production from U of M experts.

The Grand Rapids seminar will be held on Friday, Feb. 21 at the North Central Research and Outreach Center, just east of Itasca Community College at 1861 Highway 169 E. The program runs from 5:30 – 9 p.m. and costs $20 per person, which includes a meal and a proceedings booklet or CD.


Native Plant Sale 

by Matthew Johnson, SWCD

The Itasca County Soil and Water Conservation District is happy to announce the return of the annual native tree and plant sale. Believe it or not, now is the time to be planning and placing orders for planting in the spring. Whether you are replanting after a timber harvest, attracting wildlife, starting a berry patch, or simply adding some color to the back meadow or yard the SWCD has something just for you.

New this year is the addition of mountain ash - a small tree or shrub that produces fruit that attracts grouse - and a hot new deer repellent called Repellex – a systemic repellent absorbed through the plant’s roots. This year’s buy is a compost bin which is perfect for the beginner getting started in composting.


Fuel Cost Comparison 

Energy source to Btu

Electricity - 1 kW 3,412 Btu
Propane - 1 gallon 91,500 Btu
Fuel Oil - 1 gallon 138,500 Btu

Cost per gallon equivalent

NIEC Electric rates /kWh$0.047$0.052$0.119
Propane Equivalent /gallon$1.26$1.39$3.19
Fuel Oil Equivalent /gallon$1.90$2.11$4.83

The above comparison reflects North Itasca Electric's storage, dual fuel and general service rates as they compare to propane and fuel oil. For example, one would need to purchase propane at $1.26 per gallon or fuel oil at $1.90 per gallon to achieve the equivalent of North Itasca Electric's storage heating rate. For a free economic analysis of your heating options, please contact North Itasca Electric at (218) 743-3131 or (800) 762-4048.

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