The Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Annual Meeting will be held Saturday, June 8th. Breakfast and registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Cook County High School in Grand Marais. Meeting begins at 10 a.m. in the Arrowhead Center for the Arts connected to the High School.
The annual report in it’s entirety can be downloaded here.
A year of change
The past 12 months have been a time of innovation and excitement for Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Inc. To encompass our new endeavors, the name that you have known since 1953 is changing, just slightly. Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Inc. will soon become Arrowhead Cooperative. Yes, we are still primarily your reliable electric cooperative, but also much more. With the ability to soon offer fiber optic services, our vision of “Connecting the tip of the Arrowhead” has taken on a whole new meaning. Whether it is through energy, internet, community, or people, our focus is on connections. Being able to connect homes with light, individuals with information, neighbors with each other, and our employees with the community is what keeps us going. We build on our solid foundation as an electric cooperative to bring you broadband services as we look to our future in times of change.
Tried and True
“Providing safe, reliable, and environmentally friendly utility services” remains the mission of your cooperative. Safe and reliable have always been top priorities, and our members increasingly call for environmentally conscientious practices. We are proud of our employees who take great care in building, maintaining, restoring, and administering our distribution system. They answer the phone and ensure the lights turn back on when the snow is blowing and the rain is pouring, leaving their evening meals and holidays so others can enjoy theirs. Our services are reliable because our employees are reliable and our system is safe because our employees uphold rigorous safety requirements. We continue to improve our system for reliability, evaluate our safety standards, and revise our operations to benefit our members.
Our efforts are reflected in our financial statements. In 2012 we cut costs and improved efficiency. Through our efforts, for the first time in many years, we were able to hold our rates steady without an increase for the year 2013. Although this will not be the case every year, we are always working to limit energy rate increases as much as possible for our members. The majority of our operating expense is the purchase of wholesale power. Rising costs of wholesale energy is the most significant factor in determining the rates for our members.
Currently, we have a forty year contract with Great River Energy (GRE) to purchase 100% of our energy. Through that contract we look to GRE to lead us on the third part of our mission, providing “environmentally friendly” utility services. Our focus, and GRE’s is on achieving balance between providing as much renewable energy as possible and making sure all our members can afford electricity. Meeting our ethical environmental responsibilities, state and federal mandates, and the goals of our members to distribute environmentally friendly energy at a cost that everyone can afford is an ongoing process. In 2012, GRE supplied Arrowhead Electric with 12% renewable energy, an additional 12% came from hydroelectric generators located in Canada. We are doing all we can to work with GRE and support their efforts. As members you can help through our Wellspring Program. At an incremental cost, members can purchase blocks of 100kwhs of renewable energy. This provides GRE with the resources to fund additional renewable energy generation facilities. Although it is changing rapidly, electric distribution is still the core of our cooperative.
Keeping up with the Times
Technology is changing how we live our lives. This will be the third annual meeting since the announcement of our broadband project. Certainly we understand a lot of members are asking when we will have broadband services available. Without high-speed internet, we continue to be challenged in how we use technology to improve our lives and our local economy. Recently, much progress has been made and we anticipate completing the connection necessary in Lake County by early to mid-summer. One hurdle after another, we are conquering the barriers to make that first connection to the information superhighway as fast as we can. We put the first shovel in the ground in August of 2011 and the Rural Utility Service (RUS) requires that we provide service by 2015. We intend to have you connected to our phone, internet, and TV services before then. The outside infrastructure system is currently 40% built with the remaining areas of the Gunflint Trail, Colvill, Hovland and Grand Portage to be nearly, if not completely, finished in 2013. With the offering of new services, we will continue to provide the same high quality level of customer care and service that we have been providing for the past sixty years. It is important to us that if you have a general, billing, or technical question you are able to ask someone locally who understands your needs. You can talk to the same person you’ve spoken to before who knows your history as a member. We value our member relationships and strive to provide the best service to our members. This project will connect our beautiful, serene and remote community in a way that has not been possible before.
Looking to the Future
What is next for Arrowhead Cooperative? As we transition into technology services via our broadband project or through electric distribution improvements, the door is open to a host of solutions to increase the value the cooperative can provide for our members and subscribers. We are researching value added services aimed at helping reduce energy consumption, implement renewable generation choices and increasing the security and efficiency of your homes and businesses. There are meters that tell you the cost of your current electric usage so you can adjust in real time depending on your budget instead of waiting for the bill. Imagine the ability to prepay in small increments for just the energy usage you currently have the funds for, to install smart thermostats that turn down the heat when you are a certain distance away from your home and turn it up when you are on your way back, and remotely lock the back door that you forgot from the airport on your way to warmer weather; these are all possibilities of the near and far future, to be carefully evaluated on their benefit to our members. The sky is the limit when you integrate energy with information technology. The possibility is there to provide not just energy solutions, but whole home solutions. Arrowhead Cooperative is looking to the future to ensure that our members and subscribers are receiving the best, most innovative services available.
Our members are where Arrowhead Cooperative’s focus lies. We would like to say thank you for the cooperative you have built in the past, for patiently supporting us as we bring you new opportunities now, and the openness to solutions that are possible in our future.
Your Management Team,
Joe Buttweiler, Jenny Kartes, John Twiest