Cohasset, Minn. – A community of cooperative members “plugged in” – literally – to Lake Country Power for a virtual annual meeting held via Zoom video conference on Thursday evening, April 15. More than 125 members and guests heard about working through the pandemic, favorable achievements in 2020, and the co-op’s commitment to manage member resources wisely.
“As an electric cooperative, we provide an essential service,” said Lake Country Power General Manager Mark Bakk. “When the COVID-19 pandemic was picking up steam last March, shutdown was not an option. To-date, we’ve been following the ever-evolving guidance from the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. Through it all, providing service to our members remains at the forefront of what we do.”
Bakk emphasized some of the cooperative’s achievements and milestones during the past year. In 2020, Lake Country Power completed all planned work on time and under budget during the pandemic. The co-op also achieved its best-ever reliability score and completed its first full seven-year cycle of integrated vegetation management.
“The biggest contributor to our reliability scores is our right-of-way management plan,” said Bakk. “It is critical that we clear and maintain these corridors on a rotating basis. If we waited longer than seven years to revisit a section of line, the vegetation growth gets more difficult and more costly to maintain.”
Bakk added that Lake Country Power finished deploying the final stretch of nearly 70,000 new meters with advanced metering infrastructure for members.
“The new metering system has many benefits including better outage reporting through fault detection technology,” said Bakk. “These new meters are also able to provide better energy usage information, allowing members to monitor their electric usage even by the hour and help members see the reflection on their electric bills.”
Bakk reported about the new lineworkers who were recently hired to focus on large-scale construction projects and age-related line replacements. These line crews will save the cooperative money that was normally paid to contractors and will enable Lake Country Power to replace 75 miles of aged line every year to maintain reliable service.
Bakk concluded with an overview of when the service center lobbies would reopen. The anticipation is late summer, pending any health restrictions.
In the meantime, Lake Country Power will continue to provide safe and reliable electric service, work with members on payment arrangements and continue working to help make the region stronger and better for the co-op community.
“I’d like to thank our members for their understanding and support during this most challenging year,” said Bakk. “Rest assured that I will always lead this cooperative with your best interests in mind.”
Additional reports were given by LCP Board President Craig Olson, LCP Chief Finance Officer Tracy Peterson, 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. District 3 was a special election to fill a two-year vacancy. The other three districts will fill three-year terms. Candidates ran unopposed in Districts 1 and 5.
District 1: Jason Long, Cook ,723 votes
District 3: LaTisha Gietzen, Mountain Iron, 351 votes; Steve Raukar, Hibbing, 494 votes
District 5: Robert Bruckbauer, Remer, 468 votes
District 9: Larry Anderson, Esko, 423 votes; Paul Horgen, Sturgeon Lake, 246 votes; Kevin Maki, Saginaw, 313 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.