“Member Moment” highlights one of Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives and how it uniquely demonstrates what it means to be a cooperative.
Connexus Energy, the largest member-owned utility in Minnesota, has served its communities since 1937 when a group of residents formed the Anoka County Cooperative Light and Power Association and brought electricity to the Twin Cities’ north metro area. Today, the cooperative provides electricity — along with related products and services — to approximately 138,000 homes and businesses.
Among those businesses is Northrop Grumman which designs, develops, builds and supports some of the world’s most advanced products, from cutting-edge aircraft and next-generation spacecraft to cybersecurity systems and radars; and Crystal Cabinets, which has evolved into one of the largest custom cabinet manufacturers in the country.
More than just providing businesses with electricity, Connexus Energy works with owners on sustainability efforts. The co-op aided in the sustainability efforts of Invictus Brewing, which built its brewery on a site next to the National Sports Center in Blaine — part of Connexus Energy’s service territory.
The co-op worked closely with the brewery on sustainability efforts throughout the building, including the installation of high efficiency appliances, LED lighting and eco-friendly panels on the roof and walls. The cooperative also helped them with rebates on appliances, such as chillers, high efficiency boilers and an HVAC system. There are six electric vehicle chargers installed by the front doors of the brewery as well.
In keeping with the “concern for community” cooperative principle, Connexus Energy created its own foundation for charitable giving to nonprofit organizations and to offer scholarships. As a way to engage with its membership, the co-op donates $1,500 each month to a qualifying charity with the most submissions by its members as part of its “Your Community Your Choice” program. The co-op also has its own employee volunteer program.
Connexus Energy works to keep rates affordable for its entire membership and is currently focusing on reducing power supply costs. The co-op recently announced it is keeping its residential rates the same for the fourth consecutive year, which is welcome news for all — especially those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“New initiatives are helping us to reduce costs and, in turn, Connexus is able to pass on savings to its members,” said Connexus Energy Board Chair Fran Bator. “Our solar-plus-battery storage systems, along with our peak management programs, offset over $5 million from our wholesale power cost in 2020. We also appreciate members that took control at home by reducing their use during requested summer hours to save even more from our peak-time rebate program, a rate only offered by Connexus in Minnesota.”