Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 18 NO. 4  -  April 2015

Cold Weather Rule Notification   |   Energy Assistance Programs

Co-op Connections Business Profile 

Polar Insulating

by Sally Sedgwick

When Tom Kallio discovered how scarce foam insulation contractors were, he thought it might be a good weekend business to supplement working in the woods. In 2003, he bought a used machine in Sioux Falls and brought it home to Squaw Lake to do his first job.

He lost $800 and came home with aches and pains, thinking he would never do another.

That was in 2003. Today Kallio has four employees, two trucks, the largest spray urethane foam insulation machine in northern Minnesota and a thriving, full-time business.

But it wasn’t easy.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Volunteer for GreenTouch 

Minnesota’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives will once again join together to help spruce up our state park system this spring for project GreenTouch. This year, GreenTouch day is set for Saturday, May 2, 2015, when electric cooperative employees and members will volunteer in various parks throughout the state.

Locally, North Itasca Electric Cooperative employees and members will work together at Scenic State Park cleaning trails, capping pine buds and general maintenance.

Touchstone Energy is a co-brand used by cooperatives all over the nation to market what local electric cooperatives stand for; Integrity, Accountability, Community Involvement and Innovation. The state park sponsorship fits well with the Touchstone Energy commitment.

You need not be a member to volunteer. Volunteers need to RSVP by calling North Itasca Electric Cooperative at (218) 743-3131 or 1(800) 762-4048.

What a difference a year makes 

by Jared Echternach, CEO

What a difference a year makes. While last winter was one for the record books, this winter was much warmer, with ice out nearly a month earlier than last year. That tells me two things. First, we’re actually going to be able to fish on opener this year and second, electric bills were more manageable than last year. To give you a little perspective, we track both heating degree days and cooling degree days on a monthly and annual basis. In March of this year there were 25.6 percent fewer heating degree days than March of last year. As a result, furnace fans ran less and members on average consumed much less electricity and other forms of energy used to heat their homes. It certainly resulted in a welcome reprieve on the pocketbook compared to last year.

Degree days are a measure of how warm or cold a location is over a period of time relative to a base temperature, most commonly specified as 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The measure is computed for each day by subtracting the average of the day’s high and low temperatures from the base temperature (65 degrees), with negative values set equal to zero. Each day's heating degree-days are summed to create a heating degree-day measure for a specified reference period. Heating degree-days are used in energy analysis as an indicator of space heating energy requirements. Cooling degree days are simply calculated in reverse from the same baseline temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. As you can imagine, we have relatively few cooling degree days in our neck of the woods, and roughly 10,000 heating degree days.


Spring Round-Up® grant awards 

The North Itasca Electric Trust Board has announced its 2015 spring grants. Listed on the continuing page are 54 grant awards totaling over $10,000. North Itasca Electric Co-op would like to thank those members who round up their monthly bills making these projects possible and the members of the Trust Board who donate their time to make the difficult yet rewarding decisions on the grant requests. The next application deadline for Round-Up grants will occur in October.


Area greenhouse openings 


  • Bigfork Hardware is located just north of the river on Highway 38. Adjacent greenhouse open by Mothers’ Day (depending on weather) with baskets, planters and patio vegetables. Phone: (218) 743-3231.

  • Country Gardens Greenhouse is located in the parking lot of Kocian’s featuring flowers, heirloom vegetables and hanging baskets. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon. – Sat. Phone: Carol at (218) 743-3343

Nominations open for Director positions 

The Board of Directors has appointed a nominating committee whose duty is to select, propose and post a list of candidates for director for Districts 1, 2 and 3. The nominating committee will meet in the office of the cooperative, Bigfork, Minn. on May 7, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

Members of the cooperative are urged to contact a nominating committee person or alternate and let them know if you have a candidate for the Board of Directors. All candidates selected should be qualified by the nominating committee person prior to the meeting to ensure that if elected, he or she could serve in the capacity of director for a period of three years in Districts 1, 2 or 3. Each candidate must be a Member of the cooperative and a bona fide resident of the district having director elections.


May 2015 Calendar of Events 

2 Project GreenTouch. North Itasca Electric Cooperative staff and Member volunteers meet at Scenic State Park at 8 a.m. for a morning of sprucing up the park. Lunch served, no sticker required for volunteers. Call (218) 743-3131 to join the crew!
2 Marcell Family Center Spring Fling, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Snacks, beverages, crafts, tree & seed planting, fun activities, and more.
2 Spring Salad Luncheon at St. Catherine's, Squaw Lake, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $8, under 12, $3. Bake sale and white elephant sale.
4 North Woods Craft Store, Northome, opens for the season 10 a.m. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday
4 ISD 318 School Board meets in board room, Admin. Bldg., 7 p.m. (6:30 p.m. public forum)
6 North Woods Craft Store board members meeting, Northome Library, 3 p.m.