CEO Column // January 2022

I sure hope we aren’t experiencing the calm before the storm today. It’s December 15th today as I’m writing to you. We are expecting rain tonight followed by strong winds and snow tomorrow.

Whatever Mother Nature brings us, you can rest assured we will do everything to get the system restored as quick as safely possible. As a reminder to all of us, if you see downed powerlines, please stay away from them. Snow can sometimes act as an insulator and the lines can be energized. This is a very dangerous situation, please let our skilled linemen handle the job. Our crews are trained and have the equipment necessary to work on our system safely.

By the time I sit down to write my next article we should have our 2022 budget approved. I have included information about this in my past two articles. Most rates should remain the same for 2022. The only change I expect is on the long-term storage rates. We will experience an increase on that rate from Great River Energy; I expect we will pass this same amount into North Itasca Electric’s rate. We have been able to keep rates stable since 2018. This is becoming difficult with the rising costs all of us are experiencing.

Mr. Chris Larson handles our purchasing and warehouse needs. He is in a constant battle these days with rising costs and difficulty getting materials. Transformers have risen 25-50 percent over the past year underground cable is up 17 percent, copper conductor is up over 100 percent. These are just a few examples of the materials we use all the time. Chris does a great job of securing the materials we need to serve our vast system. I absolutely want to recognize his hard work in these stressful times. Thank you, Chris!

If you have not heard, Minnesota Power was approved for a 7 percent interim rate increase; they have applied for an 18 percent overall increase. Xcel Power proposed a rate increase of 21.2 percent over three years. Your cooperative works hard on your behalf to keep rates stable and reasonable. We will continue to look for ways to keep costs competitive. I have heard from colleagues of mine; they are looking at rate increases for 2022. I am pleased to report once again, we are not planning a rate adjustment for 2022 other than to the storage heat off-peak rate.

Eventually the price of everything goes up. This may be a good time to talk to Jerry about changes you can make at home to save electricity. One of the proposed budget items for 2022 is installing Air Source Heat Pumps at the office in Bigfork. Making this investment will save over $9,000 per year on heating costs at our headquarters. Adding in the demand savings, I expect to pay for the installation in savings in less than five years. We can use CIP credits to help pay for the project also. This will capitalize on the improved technology available to all of us. We will be sure to report on the project and savings as they are realized over the course of the next year.

I am looking forward to 2022. I believe we will unite and overcome the difficulties we faced together over the past couple of years. I’m looking forward to spending time with friends and family over the holidays. I might even make a little time to do some ice fishing. It continues to be my honor to serve the members of North Itasca Electric, thank you for your support.

By your side! Miigwech,

Brad Dolinski, CEO