Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 20 NO. 2  -  February 2017

Cold Weather Rule Notification   |   Energy Assistance Programs

Bigfork School Garden Project underway  

by Tom Renquist

In October 2015, a Bigfork Valley Community Health Needs Assessment determined that obesity was the most serious physical health concern for the community. Since that time a group of Bigfork citizens has been meeting under the banner of Healthy Community Conversations, proposing various ideas to tackle that problem.

One proposal was to acquaint children with good gardening practices and eating healthy foods grown locally. Thus was born the idea of a school garden at the Bigfork School! Jeanette Pangburn and Tom Renquist agreed to lead the effort.


CEO Report: Budget approved for 2017  

by Chris Corradi, CEO

After much discussion over the last three months, your board of directors has approved a 2017 budget that calls for a zero percent rate increase to our members.

There were numerous factors that played into this decision. Our primary power supplier, Great River Energy, projects a 0.9 percent increase for 2017 while our other power supplier, Minnkota Power, projects a 3% increase. Though we will see our cost of power increase in 2017, we believe we’ll be able to absorb it within our present rate structure and still meet our financial requirements set forth by our lenders.

Over the last year, we’ve worked to decrease internal expenses. We expect operational expenses to decrease in 2017 compared to 2016 which weighed heavily in the decision. I’d like to commend our employees for their commitment in this area as they work to keep costs as low as possible. The approved budget includes $1.2 million in work plan projects that will increase reliability to the distribution system. We are looking at many projects over the course of 2017 which I’ll touch on in later articles.


Storing heat energy  

What is “stored heat energy"? Heat produced by electrical current which can be transferred to a medium that is able to retain it for future use.

When we talk about heating our homes or businesses with storage heat, electricity is used to produce heat and then tranferred to a medium such as sand, water or bricks.

Unlike fossil fuel where liquid remains as a liquid until it is needed, electricity needs to be produced first before it is available for use. Fossil fuels sit in a tank, idle, until the thermostat is turned up and the furnace starts. Electricity cannot be stored unless transferred to a medium which can retain it. Electricity does not have a tank to access when needed, but needs to be produced simultaneously with use.


The basics of purchasing an electric car  

As electric vehicles (EVs) continue gaining popularity even among conventional car drivers, most everyone leasing or purchasing one is doing so for the first time. So, how do you know if an EV will suit your lifestyle? And what information do you need to know when heading to the dealership to find out which kind is best for you?


One of the biggest roadblocks for people to overcome when considering a transition from gasoline to all-electric is “range anxiety,” or the belief that the car’s charge won’t be able to get them to where they need to go for an entire day. But according to a 2013 study conducted by Consumer Reports and the Union of Concerned Scientists, 69 percent of U.S. drivers travel less than 60 miles on weekdays – well within the range of many EVs available today and newer models to be released in the next year or two.


February 2017 Calendar of Events 

4 First Annual Sweetheart Craft/Bake Sale at the Marcell Family Center, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. More information, Kathy Britain, (218) 910-5488.
6-10 Snow Week at Blackduck School
Mizpah City Council meets in Mizpah Community Center, 7 p.m.
8 ISD 363 South Koochiching-Rainy River School Board, 7 p.m. at Northome ITV studio.
8 Bigfork Lions Club meets second Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Golf on the Edge.
9 Evergreen Friendship Club meets at noon at a local restaurant.
9 Classic movie at the Edge Center in Bigfork: A Place in the Sun (1951), starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelly Winter, 6:30 p.m. Free.