CEO’s Message – April 2020
Reliable and Safe: Cooperative’s COVID-19 Response
During these unique times, Stearns Electric wants you to know that we are focused on providing safe and reliable electric service to our Stearns Electric members. In order to do this successfully, we have made some adjustments to our normal business practices to assure the safety of our Stearns Electric Association employees and members.
PANDEMIC PLAN IMPLEMENTED
In early March, the COVID-19 pandemic quickly spread across our country. Stearns Electric, along with our wholesale power provider Great River Energy (GRE), implemented its emergency response plans. Emergency planning is an important function for the energy industry. As part of this nation’s critical infrastructure, energy utilities like Stearns Electric and GRE plan responses for emergency situations like this one to assure an uninterruptible energy supply. Stearns Electric’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is going according to plan and our emergency response team continues to monitor state and federal regulations and recommendations.
Stearns Electric has implemented these changes to our normal business processes:
- Our business offices are closed to the public. No walk-in traffic is allowed.
- A large number of Stearns Electric employees are working from home and remote locations.
- All business travel is canceled and employee personal travel is discouraged.
- Our Annual Business Meeting has been delayed and election results will be announced through a live stream results meeting.
- All Stearns Electric business meetings are canceled, or conducted via web-based technologies.
- The Cooperative continues to conduct its monthly Stearns Electric Board meetings using web-based meeting technologies.
- Stearns Electric employees and their families are to practice social distancing, rigorous hand washing and isolation if illness is in the household.
- Our Member Services team is ready to discuss payment options with members who are facing financial hardship. In some cases, the Cooperative can direct members to available crisis funds. Should you face financial hardship, staying in communication with the Cooperative is important as we work together through this difficult time.
Stearns Electric strives to provide superior service to all of our members at all times. However, during this volatile time, the response time our members have expected in the past may be delayed slightly as the Cooperative adjusts its practices to ensure the health and safety of our employees.
These are challenging times to be sure. Please be assured that during this time, Stearns Electric will continue to do everything in our power to provide you with reliable and safe electrical service.
COOPERATIVE’S OUTAGE RESPONSE
As part of our focus to provide reliable energy to our members, Stearns Electric continues to respond as quickly and safely as possible to power outages throughout our service territory during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members can report their outages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on SmartHub or by calling the Cooperative at (800) 962-0655.
In late March, a winter storm passed through our service territory causing outages for several members in the southern and eastern portions of our service area.
These outages were a result of freezing rain, wet snow and wind. Stearns Electric replaced 11 broken poles and repaired several miles of downed power lines. I am happy to report that power was restored by the afternoon on Sunday, March 29 to all but one location. That location had a temporary power source until repairs were completed late Sunday evening.
I want to personally thank Stearns Electric members in these impacted areas for your patience. Stearns Electric crews worked for several hours in icy and wet conditions to restore power while following pandemic protocols. Again, know that Stearns Electric will continue to fulfill our mission to provide our members reliable and safe electric service.
Be safe and stay healthy.
Robin C. Doege
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