A community of cooperative members gathered at the Cromwell-Wright School in Cromwell, Minn., for the annual membership meeting on Thursday evening, April 20. More than 145 members and guests gathered to hear how soaring material and labor costs are driving recent rate increases, and the challenges of supply and lead time issues for essential equipment needed to provide reliable and affordable electric service.
A presentation by Lake Country Power’s wholesale energy provider, Great River Energy, highlighted the ever-changing landscape for the future of power generation and transmission in Minnesota as current legislation moves electric service providers away from fossil fuels toward renewable power sources.
Members learned of the steady climb in cost increases for line materials since the 2020 pandemic, including supply chain issues. In 2022, the average increase was 30% more for materials but was surpassed at the beginning of 2023 with an average price increase of nearly 70% for those same materials. Lengthy lead times to receive necessary materials and equipment is also concerning.
As a result of multiple inflationary factors, Lake Country Power had no choice but to adjust load management rates on January 1 and general service rates starting March 1, 2023, including an increase in the service availability charge from $42 to $48 per month.
A special presentation during the annual meeting recognized 11 school districts within Lake Country Power’s service area with funding through the cooperative’s new Education Improvement Program. The program is funded through abandoned and unclaimed capital from previous members who can no longer be located. The State of Minnesota allows cooperatives to distribute these funds to tax-exempt organizations and cannot be used for internal operations at the co-op.
Reports were given by LCP Board President Craig Olson, General Manager Mark Bakk, Chief Financial Officer Tracy Peterson Wirtanen, Holding Company President Daniel Kingsley, and Mark Fagan, Great River Energy’s vice president and chief corporate and member services officer.
Annual meeting videos can be found on Lake Country Power’s website, www.lakecountrypower.coop, or the co-op’s You Tube channel at www.youtube.com/lakecountrypower, starting the week of April 24.
Director election results were announced. Districts 4 and 8 held a special election to fill a two-year vacancy. The other three districts will fill three-year terms. Candidates ran unopposed in Districts 3 and 7.
Steve Raukar, Hibbing, 483 votes
Ernie Braunschweig, Cohasset, 169 votes
Carter Pettersen, Grand Rapids, 165 votes
Jeff Sheldon, Cohasset, 238 votes
Lee Thole, Cohasset, 39 votes
Dan Kingsley, Hill City, 500 votes
Don Simons, Grand Rapids, 241 votes
Craig Olson, Culver, 422 votes
Marvin Ketola, McGregor, 182 votes
Brian Napstad, McGregor, 283 votes
Daniel Reed, Kettle River, 203 votes
Danny Smith, Tamarack, 183 votes
Paul Vernon, Tamarack, 56 votes
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.