“Member Moment” highlights one of Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives and how they uniquely demonstrate what it means to be a cooperative.
In 1935, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 7037 establishing the Rural Electrification Administration. Within the year, loan applications from farmer-based cooperatives made rural electrification a possibility. McLeod Cooperative Power Association (MCPA) was one of those cooperatives that made electrification possible within rural Minnesota.
The cooperative was created to serve the energy needs of local farmers and continues to do so today. MCPA powers many farms with grain dryers, resulting in annual system peak demand during the fall crop harvest. In addition to the farmers themselves, MCPA also serves many agribusinesses.
Heartland Corn Products is farmer-owned ethanol plant, a load shared with Brown County Rural Electrical Association since the plant’s location is in both cooperatives’ service territory. Rather than fight over the load, the cooperatives shared in the investment, risk and benefits of serving it jointly.
Crow River Winery is another MCPA member. The business has grown from a small wine producer to a large winery, restaurant, event center, corn maze, tourist attraction, retail store, and much more in recent years.
In addition to the farms and agribusinesses, MCPA provides service to the only state-of-the-art astrological observatory in Minnesota. MAS Eagle Lake Observatory, located in Baylor Park in Carver County and owned by the Minnesota Astrological Society, educates thousands of people each year via nighttime public viewing parties where attendees look at the stars, planets, sun, international space station and satellites through telescopes.
Working with Great River Energy
Great River Energy has partnered with MCPA on various projects, including a community solar array, which proved to be popular with members as its panels sold out before being commissioned. Great River Energy built an additional 20-kilowatt (kW) array next to MCPA’s 41-kW community solar array.
Upcoming partnerships between Great River Energy and MCPA include the North Dakota energy tour and an electric vehicle ride and drive event.
Concern for community
MCPA holds true to the “concern for community” cooperative principle by contributing to its area in various ways. The cooperative gives monetary donations annually to local organizations though its Operation Round Up program.
The cooperative also offers an economic development revolving loan fund that, over the past decade, has helped launch many start-up businesses or helped existing businesses expand. This has resulted in financing a grocery store, health food store, bakery, daycare/learning center, recycling center and a host of other businesses.
In addition, MCPA sponsors many events and have hosted the Play Ball! Minnesota Youth Clinics for several years.