Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 18 NO. 9  -  September 2015

Coal Creek Station Tour 2015 

by Jerry Loney

On August 17, 32 members struck out for Bismarck, North Dakota to tour one of the most efficient power plants in the nation. 26 members from Bigfork and 6 from Northome arrived in Bismarck at 4:15 p.m. We were met by the hotel manager who had our room keys ready along with refreshments (as if we really needed more food). The bus was stocked with a variety of juices, apples, oranges, bananas, health bars (and not so heathy nuts and candy) along with coffee, water and pop.

We departed Bigfork at 7 a.m. sharp, and after picking up a few fellow cooperative members at the senior center in Northome, we were on the road again by 7:55 with expectations of a fun filled trip. Once all were aboard, introductions were made and the fun began with questions, quizzes and prizes. Videos were played informing the tourist of what to expect to see along with information about North Itasca Electric Cooperative and its programs.


Ortman Substation energized 

by Jared Echternach, CEO

The new Ortman substation and transmission line is now energized and providing electric service to our Bigfork substation. The transmission substation and 20-mile transmission line owned by Great River Energy was completed on budget and several months ahead of schedule.

The substation and transmission line will provide a valuable loop feed to our distribution system. We are the last of the 28 Great River Energy member cooperatives to achieve a loop feed.

We’d like to thank Great River Energy for making the commitment to improving service reliability in our area. We’d also like to thank the many regional and local contractors who worked on this project. Not only did this project improve service reliability, it provided some local jobs during construction, helping our local economy. Finally, I’d like to thank our board of directors and former CEO Jeff Ortman who worked many years on this project. It’s truly a testament to their dedication to serve North Itasca Electric’s member-owners.


The heating season is fast approaching 

by Jerry Loney, Energy Management Specialist

It is September already! The month leaves start to change and the warm summer nights are taken over by cool chilly breezes. This is nature’s gentle way of telling us winter is approaching, and we should start think about getting ready for it. If you’re like me, you don’t want to think about preparing for the cold, but rather continue enjoying summer as if winter was still far off. But we‘ve lived in the northland long enough to know better, and know that the seasons do not wait for anyone.

Those many outdoor projects needing completion are important, but the comfort of your home will be as well two months from now. Those fossil fuel furnaces will rumble with life again after a six-month slumber, ramping up for the winter's two coldest months, December and January. It is not only important to keep our home heated, but also comfortable. The heating system may be running and warm air delivered to each room, but are you comfortable? Oversized heating systems will deliver heat too fast; undersized systems will run continuously not reaching the desired temperature you would like. Thermostats with large temperature swings start too late then shut down after it gets too warm, making your home uncomfortable. The human body can sense temperature changes as little as 1.5 degrees. With thermostat swings of 3-4 degrees and systems not keeping up, it can make for an uncomfortable home.

But is it entirely your heating system that’s causing your discomfort? The home's comfort is also important. The system can be secondary when it comes to the home's efficiency. If your home is not retaining the heat the system places in it, one cannot blame the heating system. Even with a top of the line system, if the home cannot hold the heat within its walls and it leaks out, that new efficient system will still need to run more to replace the escaping heated air. Not only does energy costs increase, but your level of comfort suffers as well. Blower fans run more, increasing energy use, and moisture levels drop causing those discomforts of dry air, etc.


RoundUp® applications due Friday, Oct. 2 

Friday, October 2 is the deadline for community organizations to apply for fall RoundUp® grants. RoundUp is a program that rounds up participating member bills to the next dollar, providing an opportunity for community organizations to apply for funding for worthwhile projects. About $10,000 is distributed by the community trust board twice a year.

Applications are due in the headquarters office by Friday, October 2 at 4:30 p.m.

Application forms along with instructions can be obtained by calling the office at (218) 743-3131 or toll free 1(800) 762-4048, by e-mail to joelk@nieci.com or online at www.NorthItascaElectric.com.


Ortman Substation dedicated 

by Sally Sedgwick

“It’s only in a co-op that you can do this,” said Sandra Ortman, wife of former North Itasca Electric CEO Jeff Ortman.

She was speaking at the dedication of the new Ortman Substation and transmission line on August 20. The 22 mile line, now energized, provides North Itasca Electric a loop feed and second power source.

It was a $10 million project, too much for a small business to develop, but in a cooperative setting like Great River Energy a small member receives equal attention. Even though the project did not result in electricity sales, pointed out CEO Jared Echternach, the members of GRE supported the project expense for its benefits to North Itasca Electric.


September 2015 Calendar of Events 

1 First day of school, Blackduck School
1 Annual meeting of Northern Itasca Hospital District, 11 a.m. at Bigfork Valley
3 Opening of The Long Journey: paintings by Georgi Tsenov at the Edge Center in Bigfork. Meet the artist at the opening reception on Sept. 4, 5-7 p.m. Gallery open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Exhibit continues through Sept. 26. Free admission.
3 Bigfork School Open House for student families, 4-6 p.m. Elementary backpack distribution while supplies last.
3 Storytelling, Marcell Town Hall, 6:30 p.m. Everyone welcome, treats and coffee served.
7 Labor Day - North Itasca Electric headquarters CLOSED.
8 First day of school, Bigfork, Deer River, Northome schools
8 ISD 317 (Deer River) $10.59 million general obligation bond issue referendum. In North Itasca Electric service area polling places at King Elementary, Jesse Lake Lutheran Church and Inger Community Center. Polls open noon - 8 p.m. Absentee ballots available at the school.
8 ISD 318 School Board meets in board room, Admin. Bldg., 7 p.m. (6:30 p.m. public forum). Attend via telepresence at Bigfork School.
8 Stop and Stitch at Marcell Family Center, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Bring $1, project to work on and a sack lunch. Come and go. Contact Rhonda 259-9220 or Judy at 832-3237