CEO’s Message – March 2020
Our Power Supply Partner – Great River Energy
As a distribution cooperative, Stearns Electric Association provides power to homes, businesses and farms throughout Central Minnesota. We rely on our wholesale power provider, Great River Energy (GRE), an electric generation and transmission cooperative, to generate our energy and transfer it from the power plant to our local substations.
Stearns Electric Association has been a member-owner of Great River Energy since 1999. Prior to that, Stearns Electric was a member-owner of Cooperative Power Association, which merged with United Power Association to become Great River Energy. Today, Great River Energy provides electricity to 28 member distribution cooperatives throughout Minnesota.
Stearns Electric Association is an all-requirements power purchaser from Great River Energy, which means Stearns Electric relies on Great River Energy to secure all of our power needs. Even our hydro-power allocation from Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) is run through Great River Energy. Stearns Electric purchases about 500 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually from Great River Energy and pays approximately $38 million per year for electrical energy and related expenses on behalf of our Stearns Electric members.
Like Stearns Electric, Great River Energy budgets for a modest operating margin. In 2019, Great River Energy slightly exceeded its budgeted operating margin, which resulted in an excess margin distribution to all of Great River Energy’s member-owners, including Stearns Electric. Our Cooperative received nearly $200,000, which will be used to offset future Stearns Electric power supply and operating costs.
In addition, Great River Energy provides Stearns Electric about $340,000 per year for our EnergyWise® program rebates. These dollars go toward our Stearns Electric residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial and income eligible energy program rebates. You can learn more about these rebates on our website, www.stearnselectric.org. Great River Energy works hard to provide Stearns Electric with more renewable energy and lower carbon emissions. Since 2015, Great River Energy has eliminated several coal fired power plants from their generation portfolio. Additional wind generation has been added, including the Emmons-Logan wind farm, a 200-megawatt, carbon free operation, that began power production in January. Great River Energy is currently planning to meet, or exceed, Minnesota’s legislative goal of 80% carbon-free power generation by 2050. Therefore, no new coal generation will be added to their generation portfolio in the future. At this time, 25% of the energy produced at Great River Energy comes from renewable energy sources.
Stearns Electric is a proud partner of Great River Energy. Stearns Electric relies on Great River Energy for safe, competitively priced wholesale power, and we look forward to being part of Great River Energy’s success in the future.
Robin C. Doege