Notes from the June 10th 2019 Meeting
Indivisible Notes for June 10, 2019
1. Sue called meeting to order at: 7:06 p.m. People in Attendance: 16
2. 90 seconds sharing:
Sue Hedtke: On June 26-27 debates among the top performing 20 Democratic candidates will be held. We will hold two debate parties to view these as a group. On Wed., June 26th, viewing and potluck will be held at Sally Bair’s house at 6:30 p.m. at 1681 Bishop Ave. NW in Buffalo (turn right on Bolton Drive just beyond Mill Creek) with debate at 8:00. On Thursday, June 27th we will watch the debates at the VFW in Monticello (713 Cedar St. behind Perkins), 6:30 p m. to order drinks and food off the menu with debate on the big screen at 8:00.
The August Indivisible meeting will be held on August 18! The plan is to have a potluck meeting to be held at Sue and Roger’s house. Family is welcome. Details will be provided later.
Lori Cocking introduced Joe Rosh, candidate for the MN 29th District House seat. Joe Rosh, is a teacher at Monticello teaching history and is a baseball coach. Joe also coaches for the VFW baseball team and is president of the teacher’s union at Monticello. His wife teaches history at Buffalo. They have two daughters, both in school. Joe is looking forward to the experience of getting into politics. He understands that this is a hard area to run in but is excited for the challenge. He has decided that this is a good time to get involved in politics as his daughters are at the perfect age to go door to door and learn about politics.
Steve Wiltermuth: He attended and reported on Tom Emmer’s town hall Friday night in Sauk Rapids. Overall opinion was he is “slippery”. Congressman Emmer had his handler calling on people which he justified so he isn’t blamed as to handpicking. Questions were raised as to the Congressional oversight considering the stonewalling that is happening with subpoenas. Emmer went off about the Steel dossier. Carter Page never went to Russia per Emmer. Emmer spent most of his time not answering questions. There were about 40 people in attendance with room for 100. Steve felt the crowd tilted toward liberal not conservative. Conservatives in the group admonished others because liberals weren’t kind. Good half of the questions were asked by liberals.
A discussion was held after Steve’s comments on the need to strategize on how to get questions answered by Tom Emmer. We need to get better at handling these meetings and asking questions. John Dietering has information on how to handle a Town hall meeting. It was also brought up that we need to practice, ahead of the next town hall meeting, on how to get questions answered.
John Dietering: Shared that he had just run across a Life Magazine from 1944 in his basement covering D-Day. Ironic since this was the 75th anniversary.
3. Speaker: Ryan O’Connor, Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association, Key Account Executive, Rockford, MN
Introduced by Lori Cocking. The reason we asked Ryan O’Connor of WH is in follow-up to the presentation by Roy Coggins whose presentation was “The Favorable Economics of Solving the Climate Challenge”. Where are we putting our money? One local area option is the WH Cooperative.
Ryan is originally from Maple Lake, MN, He graduated from Maple Lake H.S. and St. Cloud State and worked at Honeywell. He was laid off from Honeywell, then worked for the family owned business that runs elections throughout the country. That’s where he got his experience in cooperatives – eight years running around working with cooperatives on board elections. He quit traveling when he started a family and he has now been at WH for 4.5 years.
How does the structure of a cooperative like WH Electric differ from a corporation like Xcel Energy?
A cooperative is non-profit vs for- profit. Cooperatives have members vs customers. Cooperatives have the membership electing the board vs the shareholders. Cooperatives’ capital credits go back to the membership vs there are no solar mandates for Xcel. Minnesota’s current standard: 25% renewable energy by 2015 for all Minnesota electric utilities except; 30% renewable energy by 2020 mandate for Xcel Energy.
Keeping Rates Low
WH does have subsidiary companies that are for-profit. These services help to keep the rates low to the membership. The companies are: Bear Tree Services providing tree trimming, WH Security providing home and commercial security systems, WH International Response Center providing 24 hour wholesale monitoring services for security dealers in 28 states and 3 Canadian provinces, and WH Generation provides back-up power solutions that improve electric service reliability for commercial members.
Additional off-peak programs available to the membership are: Water heater rebate options, discounts for ground source heat pumps, air conditioning, dual fuel and financial services. An additional service provides consultants to come into the home to perform a usage service and determine whether appliances should be replaced for energy efficiency or safety.
Power supply renewables
WH doesn’t own any plants. WH buys power from 3 sources:
- Great River Energy: Wind 468 MW, Hydropower 200 MW, Solar 4MW, Biomass (wast-to-energy) 30 MW
- Basin Electric: Wind 284 MW, Recovered Energy Generation 44MW
- MISO Market (Midcontinent Independent System Operator): Wind 4,800 MW, Other 2,200 MW
What is the power cost adjustment on my bill?
Power cost adjustment (PCA) is the cost of fuel to generate electricity (coal and natural gas)
Power cost adjustment is based on the cost of natural gas.
Sources: Hydropower is not readily available here.
Wind is the cheapest form of energy. Need to have the right of amount of wind as too much can ruin
the invertor. There is currently no way to bank wind energy at this time. 30% of Great River Energy’s
energy is coming from wind.
Side note: State of Minnesota mandates that 1.5% of revenue has to be spent on conservation.
What does WH Electric offer to members when it comes to solar energy?
Presently 4 community solar projects, 3 of which are behind the headquarters of WH in Rockford. In 2013 WH was the first cooperative to offer solar energy in the U.S.
Project #1: Located at WH Headquarters
190 watts panel.
32 kW system
25 member participants
(A panel can be purchased outright. Individual owns th panel, WH maintains it at no charge. Currently a panel runs $1,800 new priced out over a 20-25 year period)
Project #2: Located at WH Headquarters.
410 watt panels
30 kW system
Went online July 2014
Went online early 2017
Project #3: Located at WH Headquarters
300 watt panels
150 kW system
32 member participants
Went online August of 2016
Project #4: Located at WH’s Willow substation
300 watt panels
150 kW system
12 member participants
What is the future of renewable energy for WH Electric and its members?
WH Solar Community and Utility locations
Dickinson Springs Solar Project
8,260 panels located south of Buffalo
Owned by Great River Energy and maintained by WH. WH buys the energy.
60 panels located on the Rockford Mall
270 panels located on the city’s water tower property
Side note: For WH, wind is the biggest renewable.
Current Offerings through WH:
Member locks in solar rate at $0.16/kWh
Panels are not installed at your home
Purchase blocks 100 kWh per month
One-year initial commitment
Rate is locked in through 2038
Member cannot purchase Solar Choice blocks exceeding their lowest monthly energy consumption.
Member can add renewable energy to your energy consumption
Wind turbines and solar arrays located in the region
Secure and allocate renewables matching your energy consumption
Any home receiving power from WH is eligible
$12 per year allocates 12,000 kWh per year of renewable energy (average household)
Owning a Solar Array (panels)
40kW or less
kWh credits or $0.11/kWh
41kW or more
$0.015/kWh rate payback
– 2 meters are placed at the home. One goes back into the grid and any leftover energy will not be metered and member would get a credit.
Things to think about before owning a Solar Array:
Production output estimates in MN
- 22% output in the summer months
- 3-5% in the winter.
Insurance if the solar panel is on your rooftop.
The panel has to be taken down if you need to reroof.
How long do you plan to stay in your home?
Based off 4% increase = 10-15 year payback
Typical has been 2.5% increase
No increase in 2019 and expect no increase in 2020
10-15 years life of the panel
Carbon free by 2050
- Xcel Energy carbon free by 2050 (not 100% renewable)
- Carbon Free
Natural gas power backup
Nuclear considered carbon free
- Monticello Nuclear Plant
Owned and operated by Xcel
Announced plan to extend operations to 2050 and potentially beyond.
Future of Renewables
Great River Energy
- New 300 MW wind project in North Dakota 2019
- 100 MW of wind in Minnesota beginning 2021
Tesla is manufacturing large scale battery storage units.
At present, battery storage is not economical for WH
WH will continue monitor pricing until it makes economical sense for membership.
All new resources have been renewables
Wright County Solar
- Xcel must purchase community solar
- Community solar = most expensive energy
Mandated program spread among all customers
- 1 megawatt-hour community solar power = approximately $120
- 1 megawatt-hour utility-scale solar = approximately $40
Food for thought
- 2 MWsolar array is 8 football fields and is equivalent to output of 1 wind turbine.
Side notes: 2.25 MW facility located at Dickinson Springs, WH’s
7 MW solar field facility Buffalo Township, Buffalo Municipal
1. What about electric charging stations (EV) for vehicles at businesses? It is estimated that by 2030, electric vehicles will come into major demand. Businesses get rebates for putting a charging station in. St. Louis Park city ordinance requires an EV station if a business redoes its parking lot. Tesla coming out with a truck to haul boats.
2. Who owns the large solar facilities around Wright County?
3. Does WH Electric have any affiliation with the Monticello nuclear plant?
4. Are there issues with solar? People don’t like to look at it.
However, solar panels provide habitat underneath. They can be put in flood plains.
5. How many women are on the WH board of directors?
No women currently on the board.
6. Is knowledge of energy industry necessary in order to run for the board?
Training is available. NRCA provide training for board members
Lori Stammer - DEM works for the labor union.
They were holding a group meeting of the Wright and Sherburne AFLCIO.
They currently have a dense union in this part of the state.
She noted that the Elk River Guardian Angel had 2 day strike.
They presently have a 35 year old contract. No access to union works in the facility.
Management is ignoring the union access and employees are overworked and underpaid.
Health care is bad.
The AFLCIO is organizing community support for that facility. They want to put pressure on side organizations to get the working conditions improved for employees of these facilities.
Guardian Angel is a private conglomeration of facilities with one in Albertville and Elk River to name a few.
Next meeting: July 8 At the July meeting Joe Rosh and Jason Telecky will be guest speakers. Both are running for District 29 seats. Jason will be running against Bruce Anderson’s seat.
August 12 Meeting picnic at Sue Hedtke’s House
Notes by Glennda Dalman (Lani on Vacation)