MECA Releases Updated Mobile App

By |2019-02-05T10:00:23+00:00February 5th, 2019|Uncategorized|

MECA recently released an updated version of its mobile app for Apple and Android devices. The app is designed to keep Michigan’s electric co-ops connected with its searchable database of co-op directors, managers and employees, a listing of MECA sponsors, events calendar and co-op news from around the state.

“Users probably won’t notice much change in the overall look or functionality of the app” says Doug Snitgen, Executive Vice President at MECA. “But it’s a big update that really improves performance, data security and administrative back-end.”

Several co-op associations use their own state-specific version of the app, which is licensed through a partnership with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association (TECA).

“We really focused on performance improvements in this new release,” says Trent Scott, Vice President of Corporate Strategy at TECA. “We now time-stamp each individual piece of data, so when information is updated in the portal (such as names, phone numbers and photos), the user’s device will only download these individual pieces of information instead of the entire dataset. This makes load times much faster whenever the app is launched on a device.”

The new app also uses an improved, password-based access system. However, this means every user will need to complete an automated registration process the first time they use it.

“We know that registering is a small inconvenience, especially for those who have already been using the app,” says Snitgen, “but it will keep our co-op information more secure.”

A highly-anticipated back-end feature has also been included in the new release: co-op level administrative access. This addition allows an authorized individual at each co-op the ability to log into the admin portal and update the director and employee information for their co-op in real time.

The Tennessee statewide worked with a small agency on co-op lines to develop the app, which had its benefits, but also came with some challenges. One of these challenges included illness on the development team that significantly impacted the production schedule. This put all co-op content updates on hold for a while.

“We’ll hustle to help the co-ops get their director and employee information on the app up-to-date in the coming weeks,” concluded Snitgen. “But, overall, I think the new features were worth the wait.”

Click HERE to get the MECA mobile app, or search “Michigan Electric Cooperatives” in your app store.

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Journey Lineworker Job Opening (Alger Delta)

By |2018-01-22T11:13:52+00:00January 22nd, 2018|Uncategorized|

Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association in Gladstone, MI is seeking a Journey Lineworker. Alger Delta is a non-profit, member-owned electric utility serving about 10,000 consumers in the central Upper Peninsula. We are an employer of choice offering competitive compensation and benefits, good vehicles and equipment and up-to-date technology for a modern and mobile work force. Our culture is focused on leadership, safety, service to our members and commitment to the people and communities we serve.

Lineworkers are responsible for maintenance, operations, outage response, new services and related activities on the cooperative’s distribution system and all must be done safely and efficiently. This position involves climbing poles, working from an aerial lift, operating a digger derrick, driving considerable distances, exposure to all kinds of weather including sometimes extreme weather conditions, and working at any time of the day or night.

To qualify, you must document that you have successfully completed a Department of Labor approved apprenticeship training program; have a good work history; hold a Class A CDL and medical card, and have a clean driving record. If hired, you must live within 10 miles or 30 minutes of the cooperative headquarters, be on call on a regular basis and respond to system outages after normal work hours. Also, you must be proficient with a computer / iPad; must be a good decision maker of the highest integrity; and be dependable, patient and have very good interpersonal / customer relations skills.

To be considered, send a resume and cover letter to Alger Delta. By email: admin@algerdelta.com – write “Lineworker App” in the Subject line. By mail: Lineworker App c/o Alger Delta – 426 N. 9th St. – Gladstone, MI 49837.

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Energy Optimization Program Participants Selected as Finalists for Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards

By |2017-08-09T14:25:27+00:00August 9th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Lansing, Mich. (June 28, 2017) – Four Michigan businesses that completed large-scale energy efficiency improvements with the help of the Energy Optimization program are finalists for the coveted 2017 Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards.

The four finalists include: Ewen-Trout Creek School District (Ewen), Friske Orchards (Charlevoix), Don Earl Heating & A/C (Sault Ste. Marie), and Sklarczyk Seed Farm (Johannesburg).

Now in its third year, the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards honors Michigan organizations and individuals for outstanding achievement in reducing energy waste. Nominations were spread across eight different categories to showcase exceptional commitment to responsible energy production and consumption across a variety of project types.

Ewen-Trout Creek School District

Constructed 20 years ago, the outdated K-12 Ewen-Trout Creek School building boasted unreliable heating and cooling equipment, a leaky and poorly-insulated roof, and an array of other failing systems—all of which began to negatively impact the student learning experience. In 2016, the District worked with the Energy Optimization program to install new, energy-efficient boilers, water heaters, and fan coil units; an entirely new roof; and energy-saving indoor and outdoor LED fixtures. The upgrades are projected to save the district more than $27,000 per year in utility costs. The Ewen-Trout Creek School District, served by Ontonagon County REA, was named a finalist in the “Best Project—Public” category.

Friske Orchards

Friske Orchards, a family farm founded in 1962 in Charlevoix, grows a variety of fruits and vegetables—but is particularly known for the fresh apple cider they produce throughout the winter months. Friske Orchards invested in the construction of a highly-efficient and low-maintenance labor housing building in 2016, which features a sizeable solar photovoltaic system which generates renewable energy for the housing unit. A combination of mini-split air-source heat pumps, LED fixtures, ENERGY STAR®   appliances, and more in the new labor housing unit is expected to save the Friskes nearly $4,000 per year in electricity costs. Friske Orchards, served by Great Lake Energy Cooperative, was named a finalist in the “Best Project—Agriculture” category.

Don Earl Heating & A/C

Don Earl Heating & A/C of Sault St. Marie, which operates in the Cloverland Electric Cooperative service territory, earned a finalist nomination in the “Contractor of the Year” category. Don Earl Heating & A/C contributes valuable savings to Cloverland members in the eastern Upper Peninsula  by installing high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. The business is committed to increasing awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency, and was the Energy Optimization program’s second-largest submitter of electric energy savings in 2016. Additionally, Don Earl Heating & A/C helped its customers save a combined $14,737 on their utility bills last year.

Sklarczyk Seed Farm

Sklarczyk Seed Farm, a family farm in Johannesburg, is a national leader in the seed potato industry. Manager Don Sklarczyk has invested heavily in making farm operations as energy efficient as possible. In 2016, Mr. Sklarczyk installed 90 LED grow lights, resulting in annual electricity savings of $21,000. The installation of the LEDs allowed the farm to meet growing demand without the need for costly new facilities. In 2016, Sklarczyk Seed Farm harvested over six million high-quality, disease-free seed potatoes. Sklarczyk Seed Farm, served by Great Lakes Energy Cooperative, was named a finalist in the “Best Project – Agriculture” category.

“We are incredibly proud of the energy-saving projects completed by these four participating businesses and institutions,” said Art Thayer, Director of Energy Efficiency Programs for the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA). “The Energy Optimization program exists to improve Michigan homes, farms, and businesses by providing cash incentives toward the purchase of energy-efficient products and equipment. We’re happy to see these businesses reap the rewards of these smart investments now and into the future.”

For more information about the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, visit mienergyexcellence.org.

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Ontonagon Annual Meeting Highlights

By |2017-06-26T13:20:17+00:00June 21st, 2017|MECA News, Uncategorized|

Chassell High School was the setting for the 2017 Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association’s (OCREA’s) Annual Meeting held on Saturday, June 17. Approximately 150 members from the co-op’s five county service area attended the event which featured food, prize drawings, reports from the co-op manager and the board of directors and seating of new directors.

According to General Manager Debbie Miles, “This is the first meeting since 2014 that we have had a quorum and this provided a lot of input from the membership.” During the business portion of the meeting three resolutions were presented regarding bylaws, redistricting and transparency. After a spirited open discussion between members and staff these resolutions were voted on and passed.

Reports regarding overviews of the 2016 co-op operations, finances and highlights from the past year were presented by both President Koski and General Manager Miles. Board of Directors ballots were opened and counted by a committee chaired by Peggy Macko. James Moore ran unopposed for the vacancy in District 7 Boston/Lake linden and incumbent Paul Koski defeated Jerry Kitzman to win District 3 Ewen/Trout Creek. Both directors were seated at the meeting.

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Thumb Electric Cooperative Holds 80th Annual Meeting At New Venue

By |2017-06-15T09:25:29+00:00June 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Louis Wenzlaff, president of the board of directors, opened the 80th Annual Meeting of Thumb Electric Cooperative (Thumb) members on June 10 at the Thumb Octagon Barn- a brand new venue for the annual meeting.

“The Octagon Barn is a very fitting venue for our event,” explained Brad Essemacher, member services manager at Thumb. Built in 1924, the historic Thumb Octagon Barn stands today as the result of two decades of community partnerships and is perfectly located in the center of Thumb’s tri-county service area.

“Thumb has been a fabulous partner and we were happy to host their annual meeting, said Rose Putman, President of the Barn. “It’s a wonderful spot for centralizing our rural and agriculturally-focused community.”

 An estimated 800 people attended the meeting, which is a considerable increase from previous years.

 “I was really encouraged to see such a great turnout of families with kids,” said Essenmacher.

 From bounce houses to bucket truck and pony rides to face painting, there were plenty of family activities to keep everyone busy.

 All the incumbent directors and board officers were re-elected.

 “The new venue worked out great for this event,” said Essenmacher. “We hope the Octagon Barn continues to draw more members to our annual meeting in the years to come.”

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Members Make Alger Delta’s Annual Meeting A Success

By |2017-06-14T15:33:43+00:00June 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|

A beautiful, sunny Upper Peninsula day provided the perfect backdrop to Alger Delta’s 79th Annual Meeting held on Saturday, June 10, at the U.P. State Fairgrounds. More than 400 members attended the event which featured a picnic-style cookout, games and activities for the whole family and many prize drawings.

“This event gives us a chance to show our members how much we appreciate them,” said CEO Tom Harrell. “Being a member of a co-op comes with some responsibilities and we appreciate that, so it’s just a really good time to be with our members and celebrate how far we’ve come.”

Harrell opened the business portion of the meeting by giving an overview of 2016 operations as well as updates on continuing electrical development work at the Ojibwa Casino, Eagle and Aquila mine.

Board President David Anthony chaired the meeting during the discussion of new business. This included a proposal to increase the Energy Optimization rate as well as the potential termination of the program in 2021. The increase will result in a member who uses the system average of 600 kilowatt-hours paying $.84 more per month. The other rate-related issues proposed were adding LED lighting rates to the tariffs and creating an industrial rate class. After an opportunity for member comment and discussion, the board moved to adopt the proposals.

The board also seated its newest member, Kirk Bruno representing District 7. “I’m certainly looking forward to representing the Stonington-Rapid River district,” Bruno stated, “and I hope to do the best that I can to help the co-op continue to be successful.”

Harrell concluded his remarks by expressing optimism for the future, confidently stating, “In 2018 we are looking forward to growing and becoming stronger to serve our members more effectively and efficiently.”

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Tom Sobeck Appointed Chief Executive Officer of PIE&G

By |2017-05-25T09:01:28+00:00May 25th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op board of directors has appointed Tom Sobeck as chief executive officer. Sobeck succeeds CEO Brian Burns, who retired on May 5, 2017.

“We are delighted to have Tom in his new role and leading PIE&G forward into the next chapter of the co-op’s history,” said John Brown, board chairman. “We’re pleased to have successfully completed the CEO succession process and remain focused on ensuring that the cooperative continues to fulfill its important mission in rural America.”

Mr. Sobeck has more than 23 years of experience with PIE&G, most recently as chief financial officer, with responsibility for all financial and treasury operations.  Sobeck is a United States Army veteran and holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

“I am grateful for the confidence of the board and for the opportunity to build on PIE&G’s long track record of success,” Sobeck said. “Presque Isle remains financially and operationally strong, with an outstanding value proposition and a reputation for excellence. I look forward to working with the board and employees as we continue to deliver energy to rural homes and businesses.  My focus will also include working closely with our community partners, while improving the cooperative’s capabilities and the overall experience we strive to offer to our members.”

Chairman Brown also thanked Mr. Burns for his 32 years of service to PIE&G, including the last sixteen as chief executive officer. “We’re grateful for Brian’s leadership and for his outstanding service to the organization.  We wish Brian only the best as he begins the next chapter of his life.”

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Midwest Donates to Veterans

By |2016-11-18T13:58:27+00:00November 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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Wolverine to Add Largest Solar Array in Northern Michigan

By |2016-10-17T10:08:21+00:00October 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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Energy Policy On Hold During Summer Recess

By |2016-07-15T14:07:32+00:00July 15th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Lawmakers are working to update Michigan’s 8-year-old energy law to account for aging coal plants, new environmental standards and ever-changing technology.

Over the course of the last year, both the Senate and the House released energy reform bills that were passed by their respective committees. These packages are the product of hundreds of hours of dialog and testimony from environmental groups, business owners, utilities and other interested parties.

House Energy Policy Committee Chairman Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton), Senate Energy & Technology Committee Chairman Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) and Senate Energy & Technology Committee Vice Chair John Proos (R-St. Joseph) have tried to move the House and Senate energy plans, respectively. To date, they have been unable to garner enough support to move a package to the floor of either the House or Senate for an up or down vote.

Time is not something that the Michigan legislature has on their side with it being an election year. Additionally, when the legislators return to session this fall there are a host of issues in addition to energy policy they will be faced with including the Detroit school bankruptcy and the Flint water crisis.

While the legislature has adjourned for the summer, Rep. Aric Nesbitt and Sen. Mike Nofs are still working to garner enough support from members and colleagues to bring a package to the floor in the fall.

“Michigan’s electric cooperatives have invested a good deal of time and effort on energy reform over the last couple of years,” said Craig Borr, MECA CEO. “Sen. Nofs and Rep. Nesbitt went above and beyond to ensure that all voices were heard on energy reform legislation and we are hopeful that legislators will act on energy policy sometime this fall.”

House Package Summary

The House bills (H.B. 4297 & 4298) were passed by the House Energy Policy Committee in November 2015. They maintain a 10 percent renewable portfolio standard as well as a 10 percent cap on electric choice with new requirements for alternative energy suppliers. This package also includes a new Integrated Resource Planning process to govern the development of new generation assets in the state. Another energy bill passed by the House that Michigan’s electric cooperatives are very supportive of is H.B. 4575, which would examine the viability of a high voltage transmission line linking the upper and lower peninsulas.

Senate Package Summary

The Senate bills (S.B. 437 & 438) were passed by the Senate Energy & Technology Committee in May 2016. The centerpiece of the bills is a new energy waste reduction goal of 35 percent. Michigan utilities would be expected to meet the target through a combination of renewable energy and energy optimization. The bills also include a new Integrated Resources Planning process, maintain the state’s renewable portfolio standard at 10 percent, and phase out the energy optimization standard.

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