CEO Column // September 2022

Good morning NIECI!

I’m gearing up to share the next couple of weekends with friends. 

I met one couple shortly after starting my career with North Itasca Electric.  They are soon to be newlyweds!  Congratulations Eric and Kelly, I’m sure you’ll share many happy years as North Itasca Member-Owners!  Don’t forget to add Kelly to your account, Eric, our office will be happy to help you with that.  My two daughters have been practicing dance moves to prepare for the big wedding dance.  Looking forward to a couple of great weekends.

The Board of Directors and I just got back from Energy Issues Summit put on by Minnesota Rural Electric Association.  Forty-four cooperatives from Minnesota attended the summit to learn together and discuss the issues we are facing.  I’ve heard it many times and again down at the summit, the rate of change happening in our industry is faster today than it has ever been.  You mean to tell me this isn’t normal?  I have discussed with you many changes faced over the past five years.  I’m proud to say, we made it through those, and we will make it through the ones to come.

I want to touch on a few local energy issues with you.  My friend Christine Fox from Itasca Mantrap talked about frauds in her most recent article.  This prompted me to bring this up, we must be very cautious today. 

The bad guys have shifted their tactics over the years and for good reason; it’s working.  Please know if it doesn’t feel right call us in the office.  Frauds are popping up where someone will pose as a North Itasca Electric employee and demand you give your payment immediately or be cut off from service.  That is not the approach your cooperative uses.  If you have questions if this seems legitimate, hang up and call the office back at 218-743-3131.  We will be able to confirm if the request was legitimate. 

The phone isn’t the only way these jokers are attacking people.  They are using texts to your cell demanding information or using emails to trick you.  There are technologies out there to spoof caller ID systems.  They might use a technology or an email account to make the messaging look very real.  You need to be cautious before you click on links.  This can infect computers with viruses, or they will tempt you to share information you don’t want to give them. 

One fraud Chris talked about is when they tell you that you have been overcharged and are owed a refund.  All you need to do is give your bank account or credit card information and we will refund your account.  The fraud is they then drain your account rather than issue you the “refund.”  If North Itasca Electric owes you money, we apply it to your account with us in the form of a bill credit.  I need to be careful because we do call and communicate with our members.  We will always understand if you would like to end the call and call us back to ensure you’re talking to the real North Itasca Electric.

The next thing I want to talk about isn’t as much of an issue as a celebration!  Kim and our web designer Jonathan were able to release our new website.  If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I would encourage you to take a peek.  Kim wrote an informational article about the website, so I won’t double up on her efforts.  I do want to thank Kim for tackling this project!  Outstanding job and very much appreciated.

We are starting to work on the 2023 budget.  I wish I had a more accurate crystal ball, seems like it can’t predict storms at all.  This budget work will determine our recommendation of rates to the Board of Directors.  I have been experiencing pricing pressures all year.  We are fighting to keep rates stable but with rising costs everywhere I feel this might be the first time in five years we may need to adjust rates.  I will keep you informed along the way what we are seeing. 

By your side! Miigwech