CEO’s Message – January 2020

Looking Forward to the Year Ahead – 2020

With 2019 now a memory, we, the employees of Stearns Electric Association, are looking forward to serving you in 2020. This year marks Stearns Electric’s 83rd year in operation. We have come a long way from our humble beginnings of serving a few farms in Stearns County in 1937! Here are just a few of the initiatives that Stearns Electric will be working on in 2020.


In 2020, the Stearns Electric Board of Directors is asking our member-consumers to approve proposed amendments to the Cooperative’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. Many of these proposed changes reflect an update in language and/or grammar to make the documents easier to understand and ensure compliance with state and federal laws. In addition, there are a few more significant changes proposed, such as a simplified director nomination procedure, an arbitration option and safeguards for system connections. You can learn more on page six. Future issues of the newsletter will include additional information.


Every year, our Stearns Electric work plan is developed to improve electrical system reliability and accommodate load growth. In 2020, we have predicted that our electrical load growth will be less than 1%. With that said, most of our 2020 work plan projects address system reliability and replacement of aging poles, conductors and other equipment. Here is a brief summary of Stearns Electric 2020 work plan projects as a percentage of the total work plan budget:

  • Replacement of aged overhead and underground line – 39.0%
  • Transformers, meters, new services and alterations to existing services – 21.3%
  • New tie lines and conversions from overhead to underground – 10.1%
  • Line device, such as voltage regulators, security lights, arresters, insulators, and other miscellaneous replacements – 12.4%
  • Substation upgrades – 10.6%
  • Pole replacements – 6.6%

The total cost for these projects in 2020 is approximately $6.8 million. Please know that these projects have been scrutinized by Stearns Electric staff and reviewed by the Stearns Electric Board of Directors to ensure they are in the best interest of our member-consumers. Our goal is to provide our members great value for the money spent on maintaining our electric distribution system.


Stearns Electric staff and your Board of Directors have been preparing for another busy legislative session in 2020. The Cooperative is in close partnership with the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) and the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association (NRECA) for state and federal legislative issues.

Recently electrical cooperatives, with the help of NRECA, experienced success when Congress passed the RURAL Act. The RURAL Act preserves the electric co-op business model and the ability to leverage federal and state grants to meet the needs of co-op members. The RURAL Act allows co-ops to receive government grants for FEMA disaster relief or broadband service without risking their tax-exempt status.

Upcoming 2020 Minnesota legislative items include:

  • Adjusting the Minnesota Conservation Improvement Program (CIP). Minnesota Cooperatives would like to receive credit for beneficial electrification technologies like ground source and air source heating and cooling technologies.
  • Having discussions to consider including broadband wire and equipment in electric distribution rights-of-way.
  • Minimizing the electrical permitting cost for electrical cooperatives to maintain and/or upgrade load control equipment.
  • Initiating productive conversations with state legislators regarding 100% carbon free energy generation and clean energy first legislation.

The 2020 Minnesota legislative session begins on February 11. Stearns Electric will work closely with our local senators and representatives on legislation that allows us to continue to provide reliable, safe and cost competitive electricity.

Again, the Stearns Electric staff and Board of Directors look forward to serving you in 2020. We wish you a prosperous and healthy new year!


Robin C. Doege