Members visit Coal Creek Station

Plant tour offers insight into the value of electricity

It’s hard to argue against the important role that coal has played in world-wide energy production. Without coal, the lights would not be on; especially on the grand scale that our everyday needs depend on electricity.

And, its role will continue to provide power right here in northern Minnesota. That’s’ one reason why Lake Country Power offers a chance for members to get a first-hand look at what goes into the generation of electricity on a trip called the Coal Creek Tour.

Where are we going?

Coal Creek Station is a coal-fired generation plant near Bismarck, ND, maintained by Lake Country Power’s electrical provider, Great River Energy.

Each fall since 2002, LCP has provided its members an opportunity to see where it all starts, where most of the energy that powers their lives originates.

In September, 32 members embarked on a seven-hour custom bus trip to Coal Creek Station. Among those attending were Ken and Barb Belchak. The Belchaks have been co-op members for 28 years at their rural home east of Remer, Minn.

Ken made his living as a builder, so he could appreciate the magnitude of such an elaborate operation. “When I walk into a place, I look at things because that's what I do,” he explains. “It impressed me, the construction of the plant. I think about what goes into this stuff. It just amazes me that somebody engineered all this and that somebody put this together, and it works.”

Not just a man thing

Barb wasn’t sure if a power plant tour would be interesting, but she came home with a whole new perspective. “Being a woman, I just thought, ‘a power plant tour?’”, she laughed. “I actually would go tour more plants now, learn more. There's a lot to our electricity that we don't understand and value.

“I would highly recommend it,” she says. “Electricity. It all goes back to that. I don't know if the common ordinary person thinks about that so much. I would say it is, maybe, one of the greatest inventions there is.”

Dollars and cents

Ken says he looks at the value of energy in a new light after visiting the plant. “As far as the actual getting it (electricity) to our house and using it, I understand there is a price and it takes money.

“I've always had the idea and impression of what was involved in it. And I did question it. You always question when you get a bill, why is it $220, but I can understand why it would be.”

It’s the Cooperative Way

Barb said that being part of the cooperative is very important to them both, and that this trip increased their value in membership. “We felt like after taking this trip, we were important to the co-op … not only by how we were treated, but that they wanted to learn more about us, and that they really care about us as members.”

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