A community of cooperative members gathered at Lake Country Power’s service center in Cohasset for the annual membership meeting on Wednesday evening, April 20. More than 300 members and guests heard about the lingering effects of the COVID pandemic on material costs, supply chain issues, historic inflation and the impacts all of it has on providing safe and reliable electric service.
Co-op officials also noted there was no choice but to implement the first rate increase in six years after thorough analysis.
“Material costs and supply chain issues are creating very real problems for us,” said Lake Country Power General Manager Mark Bakk. “The cost for materials we use for the distribution system has skyrocketed more than 30 percent from pre-pandemic levels. What you feel at the gas pump, is what we also feel, which is mostly diesel fuel in our case.”
Bakk shared that the supply chain for materials is delayed by months, or even years and that vendors are sometimes unable to quote a price for necessary materials upon request.
While external factors are beyond what the co-op can control, there is some good news. Bakk said Lake Country Power achieved its best-ever score for the average number of minutes of outage time each member experienced over a 12-month period. The co-op also scored well in the average amount of time it takes for line crews to restore an outage.
Lake Country Power’s internal tree and construction crews are helping the co-op save money that used to be paid to contractors. In 2021, the cooperative’s tree crews saved LCP nearly $250,000 while the construction crews pushed the one-year savings for their projects age-related line replacements and outage restoration assistance to over $1 million.
Bakk expressed his gratitude to members for ranking Lake Country Power with its highest-ever member satisfaction American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score of 77 in 2021. He said, “Thanks for your support, and rest assured that I will always lead this cooperative with your best interests in mind.”
Four employees from the Cohasset line crew were recognized before the membership for their act of heroism in rescuing a trapped woman from a flipped vehicle in a ditch filled with icy water last fall. Tim Rasmusson, Cody Vredenburg, Matt Bade and Tyler McClellan were honored with the Great River Energy Award of Excellence and the St. Louis County 911 Life Saver Award.
Additional reports were given by LCP Board President Craig Olson, Holding Company President Daniel Kingsley, and Mark Fagan, Great River Energy’s vice president and chief corporate and member services officer.
Director election results were announced to fill three-year terms. District 2 candidate, Michael Forsman of Ely, ran unopposed and received 624 votes.
Members in District 4 and District 8 did not receive a director ballot because no members petitioned to run for the board of directors by the filing deadline on February 9.
“We did not feel it proper or in the best interest of the cooperative to appoint any members to those two districts,” said Craig Olson, board president. “The seven active directors will oversee any cooperative business that may occur in those open districts and then we’ll hold a special election next spring to fill the remaining two-year terms for District 4 and District 8.”
Immediately following the adjournment of the annual meeting, the board of directors held a re-organizational meeting. Board officers are: Craig Olson from District 7, President; Daniel Kingsley from District 6, Vice President; Mike Forsman from District 2, Secretary; and Jason Long from District 1, Treasurer.
Pictured above (from left to right): Jennifer Heitkamp, White Bear Lake; Gloria O’Hern, Grand Rapids; Jo A Pommier, Brevik; Dennis Partika, Hill City; and Paul Daigle, Cohasset won the grand prize drawings at the 2022 LCP Annual Meeting on Wednesday, April 20.