Member Moment: Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association

“Member Moment” highlights one of Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives and how it uniquely demonstrates what it means to be a cooperative.

Since 1937, Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH) has powered rural Wright County and western Hennepin County. The cooperative provides not only electric service, but also shares safety messages, contributes to local nonprofits and supports county fairs and parades.

From agricultural to recreation to technology, WH serves a vast array of prominent businesses, including the headquarters of three well-known, international companies.

WH serves Forsman Farms, which produces nearly 14 million eggs per week. In addition to being available in local grocery stores, the eggs are processed into ingredients for McDonald’s restaurants.

WH provides electric service to Polaris’ operational headquarters in Medina as well as a Plymouth location which supports Polaris’ network of outdoor equipment dealers around the world.

Also located in Medina is OSI, an automation software company that provides solutions to electric utilities worldwide, as well as Loram, a leading supplier of railroad track maintenance and friction management services and equipment.

Business partnerships

Beyond providing electric service to large companies, WH is the sole owner of WH Holding, an umbrella company for several business subsidiaries. These subsidiaries include WH Security, Minnesota’s largest independently owned security company with more than 12,000 customers. Another subsidiary, WH International Response Center, monitors security alarms for 62,800 customers in 41 states. WH’s subsidiaries benefit members by providing additional services as well as leveraging employees in other capacities to work more efficiently.

WH is also an investor in ZEF ENERGY, an all-in-one electric vehicle charger, controller and meter.

“We believe the relationship with ZEF will drive beneficial EV charging, reduce peak demand and enhance reputation,” said Wendy Youngren, chief operating officer at WH.

Commitment to community

Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association provides power to rural Wright County and western Hennepin County.

WH coordinates and collects donations of time and money from employees on behalf of worthy community organizations through its Make a Difference Committee. WH members have also donated more than $4.2 million through the Operation Round Up program since 1994.

Beyond monetary donations, the cooperative is involved in community events such as county fairs, parades and hotline demonstrations, which teach children how to be safe around electricity.

Partnering with Great River Energy

With help from Great River Energy, WH has added renewable energy sources to its mix. In 2016, WH worked with Great River Energy to install the 2.25 megawatt Dickinson solar farm. In addition, the two organizations modernized WH’s power supply contract in 2018 to allow for more flexibility.

“The new contract returns more power supply decisions to the local board room and allows our co-op to better reflect our members’ needs and values,” said WH President and CEO Tim Sullivan. “At the same time, a more flexible contract has also led to an enhanced relationship with Great River Energy.”