“Member Moment” highlights one of Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives and how it uniquely demonstrates what it means to be a cooperative.
This member-owner cooperative makes do with what it has and stretches it as far as it will go. Lake Country Power (LCP) has the largest service area of any Minnesota electric cooperative and is among the largest co-ops in the country geographically. LCP covers 11,000 square miles, averaging 5.9 members per mile and serving 43,000 members.
It takes quite a crew to cover that many miles and keep the lights on. LCP has 134 employees and plans to hire 10 line technicians before the end of the year. That team operates out of eight locations in Minnesota: Cohasset, Mountain Iron, Kettle River, Remer, McGregor, Saginaw, Cook and Ely. Last year, LCP built a new service center headquarters in Cohasset.
LCP serves many notable businesses, including FLOE International and Hill Wood Products, Inc.
FLOE manufactures boat lifts, aluminum docks, Afina yachts, Varatti boats, CargoMax™ trailers, Versa Max trailers and thermoforming plastics. It is an innovative and cutting-edge company producing high-quality products in the aquamarine industry.
Hill Wood Products manufactures Ashawa Bay brand high-end engineered hardwood flooring, plate joining biscuits and bulk biofuels. The company specializes in engineered flooring and is known for its quality and customization.
LCP has a vested interest in the economic vitality of its service territory. The cooperative has given more than $6 million in loans for local economic development through its Revolving Loan Fund (including $100,000 to Blue Water Creations, Inc. last year) as well as USDA loans and contributions.
LCP gives back to the communities where its employees live and serve. The co-op’s employees volunteered for a record 732 hours through its community service program and contributed nearly $16,500 to United Way.
Additionally, LCP members contributed more than $198,000 in 2019 through Operation Round Up, a program that allows members to round their electric bill up to the next dollar with the collective funds distributed to community projects and programs.
The co-op gives back to its members as well, providing $417,000 in rebates and retiring $5.7 million of capital credits to them. Also, local high school seniors from 30 different schools received up to $4,000 each from the Les Beach Memorial Scholarship.
Working with Great River Energy
In the past five years, Great River Energy has constructed four transmission projects for LCP. These projects include the Cromwell, Big Sandy, Vermillion and Gunn substations. This year, the LCP plans to work with Great River Energy on two projects related to Enbridge pumping stations in its service territory.
In the coming years, LCP will work with Great River Energy to rebuild the Goodland, Cotton, Sand Lake and Bena substations.