MECA News

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Alger Delta’s Power Supply to Include Electricity from Wisconsin’s Largest Solar Energy Center

By | February 23rd, 2017|MECA News|

Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association will meet more of its customers’ electricity needs with power harnessed from the sun thanks to a recently announced agreement between Alger Delta’s not-for-profit power supplier, WPPI Energy, and NextEra Energy Resources.

WPPI Energy and NextEra Energy Resources recently announced plans to build a 100 megawatt solar energy center – Wisconsin’s largest – with a capacity to serve more than 23,000 people with affordable, clean energy.

“This solar energy center adds diversity to help us meet WPPI Energy member utilities’ long-term needs in a way that’s more cost-effective than other opportunities currently available to us,” said Mike Peters, president and CEO of WPPI Energy. “In addition, our membership has achieved significant emission reductions over the past 10 years, and the clean, renewable energy generated by this project will help us continue that effort.”

NextEra Energy Resources plans to build and operate the Point Beach Solar Energy Center on land adjacent to its existing Point Beach Nuclear Plant in Two Rivers, Wis. The project is scheduled to come online in 2021.

WPPI Energy has entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy the electricity from the solar energy center to serve its 51 member utilities across Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Iowa, including Alger Delta.

“We are pleased that the addition of this major power supply resource complements Alger Delta’s commitment to serving our community as cost-effectively as possible and will help us continue reducing our emissions,” said Tom Harrell, Alger Delta’s CEO. “The timing of this deal could not be better for Alger Delta and its members.  The energy bills passed at the end of the last legislative session call for increased reliance on renewables, among other things.  Securing 100 megawatts of solar energy through WPPI helps us meet those goals while keeping energy clean, reliable, and affordable.  What a great thing for our members and for the UP” Harrell added.

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Adventures For Rural Veterans – Apply By Jan. 1

By | December 8th, 2016|MECA News|

As far as Michigan’s electric cooperatives are concerned, there should be “No Barriers” to veterans with disabilities.

That’s the name—and the idea—behind Co-Bank’s No Barriers initiative.

Designed to help veterans with disabilities transform their lives through curriculum-based experience in challenging environments (think: climbing, rafting and hiking), the program takes place over a five-day expedition in Colorado.

As the program sponsor, CoBank will cover the full cost, including travel expenses, for each veteran.

Michigan’s cooperatives, along with other eligible CoBank borrowers, are invited to nominate veterans from our local community to participate in the No Barriers program.

So we are reaching out to you!

If you are a veteran, or you know of a veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, please complete this form to express interest.

The first round of applications will be turned into CoBank on January 1, and only 50 spots are available for the program.

Enter today!

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MMEA and MECA Run Storm Exercise

By | December 7th, 2016|MECA News|

The Michigan Municipal Electric Association (MMEA) and MECA recently ran a storm response exercise, in which a major ice storm hit south central Michigan. In the simulation, damage from the storm was widespread and impacted multiple municipal and cooperative utilities across the State.

The exercise dictated that more than 60 crews were requested by seven different utilities. It was the task of the MMEA and MECA mutual aid coordinators to put out the call for help to the other utilities across the state and to ensure coordination among the various requests for crews and the offers to help.

michigan-map

During the exercise, MMEA, MECA and member utilities were able to utilize emerging technologies that are changing the way utilities prepare for and respond to storms, including CommPower’s iNOTiFY alerting and notification tool, as well as Veracity Connect for storm event communication and coordination.

“If this had been an actual emergency,” customers in the affected areas can rest assured that MMEA, MECA and their member utilities are prepared to respond.

Memories of the 2013 ice storm are still fresh and provide reinforcement of the need to ensure that utilities are prepared to respond in a timely fashion. Jim Weeks, MMEA executive director explains “Our member utilities are eager to provide assistance to their neighbors in their time of need. In the event of a localized or large-scale disaster, the network of requesting and responding resources can expand exponentially.”

“While we don’t wish for significant weather events that result in widespread damage and outages, when they do occur, cooperatives utilities consistently demonstrate their preparedness by calling upon our mutual aid networks to restore power to our members,” said Joe McElroy, director of safety for MECA. “The manner in which utilities rally as a larger community to support one another during times of need is one of the strongest attributes of cooperatives — and it’s something we all should be proud of.”

McElroy is very pleased with how successful mutual aid efforts have been between the electric co-ops and municipals, and credited much of it to the use of mutual aid coordinators. “Communication between the MMEA mutual aid coordinators and MECA was very strong,” McElroy reports. “In many cases, we have used cooperative crews on municipal properties and vice versa, during the same mutual aid event.”

“Communicating closely about when the co-ops and munis could help others was key,” he said. It can save time and money getting crews in since they are not being paid to drive to an area only to find that help wasn’t needed after all. “‘Call early and call often’ to let us know what you need is our motto for both the co-ops and munis,” he adds.

The collaborative efforts of MMEA and MECA are a great example of an industry leading, proactive approach to Mutual Aid planning and preparation. By working together, MMEA and MECA  create value for their utility members.

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Spartan’s New Journey

By | December 7th, 2016|MECA News|

Spartan Renewable Energy (Spartan) is one of seven member-owners of Wolverine Power Cooperative (Wolverine). It was created in 2006 with the goal of selling power at retail under Michigan’s Electric Choice Program.

The long-term vision for Spartan has always been the development of renewable energy projects. For this reason, it was set-up as a for-profit corporation. As a for-profit entity, it can use the Investment Tax Credit to help reduce the overall cost of renewables for the cooperative family.

In 2016, Spartan began the journey to bring that long-term vision to life. Construction of the SpartanSolar-Wolverine array began early this fall and it will be commercially operational before the end of this year. Located across from Wolverine’s headquarters on M-55 between Cadillac and Lake City, this project will be the largest solar array in northern Michigan.

“With the increased desire for solar power in Michigan, including in the distribution cooperative’s service territories, third party vendors began knocking on the cooperatives’ doors. It simply made sense to the Wolverine family that one of its own members would be the partner to bring solar to the cooperatives,” said Kim Molitor, CEO of Spartan.

“Building a larger-scale solar array allows Wolverine’s member-owners to offer energy to their retail members at a competitive cost because Spartan can leverage economies of scale and take advantage of the tax credit,” says Molitor.

“We’re a close family and communication has been key to making this a successful project,” says Molitor.

For more information about Spartan go to spartanrenewable.com. For more information regarding the solar array, visit spartansolar.com.

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Midwest Donates to Veterans

By | November 18th, 2016|Uncategorized|

On Veterans Day, Midwest Energy Cooperative donated more than $2000 to two programs that provide services and supports for local veterans. The member-owned cooperative encouraged the community to recognize veterans by lighting up homes and neighborhoods with energy efficient green LED bulbs. Midwest purchased bulbs and made them available for a minimum $5 donation. All proceeds, plus an additional $250 Midwest donation, went to support designated local programs. In southwest Michigan, the effort generated $1,360 to support the Post Relief Fund administered through the Decatur VFW Post 6248. Housing Help of Lenawee was beneficiary of the southeast Michigan efforts, and received a total of $750 for veteran support.

Midwest Energy Cooperative is a member-owned electric utility providing electric distribution and an assortment of energy and telecommunications programs and services to more than 35,000 customers in 11 counties in southern Michigan and northern Indiana and Ohio.

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MECA Welcomes Ulatowski as Safety and Loss Control Instructor

By | November 15th, 2016|MECA News|

The Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA) is pleased to announce the addition of Tom Ulatowski as Safety and Loss Control Instructor starting November 23, 2016. Ulatowski’s primary responsibility will be to deliver safety program training in order to enhance safety awareness and to minimize injury, lost-time accidents and property damages.

“The goal is for all of our safety program participants to return home safe to their families each night,” said Joe McElroy, MECA’s director of safety. “The skills, background and industry knowledge that Tom brings with him will play a key role in helping us deliver upon that goal.”

A seasoned lineman, Ulatowski has over 17 years experience in the industry. His career began with Davis Electric as a telephone technician in 1999, and he built his industry acumen by working for companies such as Hydaker-Wheatlake and C.C. Power. Prior to joining MECA, he spent nine years as a Journeyman Lineman at Cherryland Electric Cooperative.

Throughout his career, Tom has always believed in using his skills to help a bigger cause. When hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, he assisted with reconstruction efforts.  Last year, he traveled to Guatemala as part of the Michigan electric cooperatives’ Partners for Power project and brought electricity to 54 families in rural Guatemala.

Outside of his professional responsibilities, Tom enjoys spending time with his wife, Ronda, and his three kids; Max, Mally and Mason. He coaches the kids’ swim team, the YMCA Breakers, and is an avid hunter and fisherman in his free time.

Please join us in wishing Tom the best in his new position.

If you need to reach Tom, you may contact him at his new email address, tulatowski@meca.coop, or by phone at (517) 599-4871.

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GLE Directors Reap NRECA Recognition

By | October 17th, 2016|MECA News|

In a presentation ceremony at the National Rural Electric Cooperative (NRECA) Region 4 meetings in Grand Rapids Sept. 8, NRECA’s new CEO Jim Matheson recognized recently retired GLE Director Dick Walsworth and Director Bob Kran.

Walsworth was recognized as a member of Wolverine Power Cooperative’s board of directors. A letter in July from NRECA’s Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor credited Walsworth with leadership that contributed to “the financial and operational resurgence of Wolverine Power Cooperative over the past 25 years.

“You engaged the board and CEOs to get involved on a national level. As a result the Michigan cooperatives’ ACRE contributions rose to one of the top 10 in the country and you leave the Wolverine Board with the cooperative in extraordinarily good financial condition,” stated Connor.

Kran accepted his Board Leadership Certificate from Matheson, the second director certification of three possible through NRECA. This certification built on Kran’s knowledge in electric co-op industry, governance, risk management, communication, rate making, and policy development. Kran was recently re-elected as a director for GLE’s Region 6 (Mason and Lake counties).

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Wolverine to Add Largest Solar Array in Northern Michigan

By | October 17th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Wolverine Power Cooperative (Wolverine) announced on Sept. 27 that one of its member-owners, Spartan Renewable Energy, Inc. (Spartan) will commence construction this fall on a 1.2 megawatt solar array in Cadillac (SpartanSolar – Wolverine), across from Wolverine’s headquarters facility. Wolverine will purchase 100% of the output from the project – the largest in Northern Michigan, for the benefit of its member-owners.

“SpartanSolar represents our ongoing commitment to Michigan renewable generation – built in Michigan, with Michigan labor, and Michigan panels and equipment,” said Eric Baker, Wolverine’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Wolverine continues to add clean energy resources to power our members’ future. We will take our first step into solar with SpartanSolar and intend to add more solar power in the months ahead,” said Baker.

“Wolverine’s members committed to far exceed Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and, in the past few years, have become Michigan’s renewable energy leaders – we will nearly double the statutory requirement this year,” said Joseph Baumann, a Wolverine Vice President. “Much of this excess has been achieved through large-scale wind projects and solar power will now play a key role in further diversifying Wolverine’s environmentally friendly power supply mix,” concluded Baumann.

Baker encouraged anyone interested in further information on the SpartanSolar – Wolverine project to visit www.spartansolar.com and sign up for updates as they become available.

Wolverine is a generation and transmission cooperative serving the wholesale power supply and transmission needs of seven member-owners: Cherryland Electric Cooperative (Grawn); Great Lakes Energy (Boyne City); HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative (Portland); Midwest Energy Cooperative (Cassopolis); Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op (Onaway); Spartan Renewable Energy (Cadillac); and Wolverine Power Marketing Cooperative (Cadillac).

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Co-ops Explore Bringing Fiber Internet To Rural Michigan

By | October 7th, 2016|MECA News|

High-speed internet is no longer a luxury; it is becoming a necessity. As reliable high-speed options have become the norm across significant portions of America and the world, much of rural America has remained unserved and underserved.

Wolverine Power Cooperative has partnered with Michigan co-ops to explore the possibility of working together to provide broadband internet to their members. The first step is a feasibility study. Wolverine has contracted Conexcon to conduct a study with eight of Michigan’s electric distribution cooperatives. The study will gauge interest in this service for the future as well as look at the potential financial implications of providing such a service in rural Michigan.

“It made sense to work together on the study,” said Joseph Baumann, Wolverine’s vice president. “Doing so provides economies of scale, demonstrates greater average density per mile, and brings excitement to the cooperative community as a whole.”

Although the study is only in its third month of gathering the data needed to determine feasibility, Baumann knows the next step in the process.

“Each cooperative will receive the data specific to their footprint and their member-owners with which to make their own decisions,” said Baumann.

As for a timeline, Baumann says that it’s still in the works.

“Before moving forward, we must first determine whether Michigan’s electric cooperative systems are the appropriate vehicle (and their member-owners are sufficiently interested) to implement such a project,” he stated.

Eighty years ago electric cooperatives brought power and light to rural America when nobody else would. Perhaps broadband internet will be next?

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Director Gardner-Platt Steps Down From Alger Delta Board

By | September 16th, 2016|MECA News|

At the last Alger Delta board meeting, Director Nancy Gardner-Platt announced she was stepping down from her position on the board. She and her husband are moving down state to be closer to family, which makes her no longer eligible to serve on the board.

Gardner-Platt served as a director for seven years representing Alger Delta’s District 3, which includes Grand Marais and Burt Township. She was elected to the Alger Delta board in 2009. Gardner-Platt also served on the board of directors of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA).

“Nancy has been a great board member,” said Tom Harrell Alger Delta’s CEO. “She’s done a great job representing the members in District 3. She would call me at any hour of the day or night if a member had a problem, just to make sure I knew about it. She has always been loyal to the cooperative and supportive of its goals, objectives, projects, and everything we ever tried to accomplish. Nancy will definitely be missed by me, the Alger Delta board and the MECA board, too,” Harrell added.

During her tenure, Gardner-Platt achieved Credentialed Cooperative Director (CCD) status through training offered by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). She was appointed to the MECA Board of Directors in July 2013.

“We were fortunate to have Nancy serve on our board,” said Craig Borr, MECA President and CEO. “She was engaged in the issues and passionate about serving the membership,” Borr continued. “She’s leaving big shoes to fill.”

Gardner-Platt championed several important initiatives while on the board, including the extension of Alger Delta’s power supply contract with WPPI. “I’m proud of that effort because I know it will help the members have reliable and affordable energy for a long time. WPPI is a good company that has been doing good things for Alger Delta,” she said. “It was fun to work on such things, and I’m going to miss it a great deal.”

The board is reviewing its options to fill the vacancy. According to the cooperative’s bylaws, the board may hold a special election in the district or the board may select a replacement. In recent years, each time there has been a vacancy, the board has selected a replacement from a slate of qualified applicants. Information about filling the vacancy will be communicated to members in District 3 via the co-op’s website, in the local paper, and through other methods which may include direct mail and Michigan Country Lines magazine.

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