Celebrating 80 years of service and using technology to serve their members even better were a couple of the topics discussed at Dakota Electric Association’s Annual Meeting, held in the social hall at St. Michael’s in Farmington on April 27.
President and CEO Greg Miller discussed how good planning and technology has helped Dakota Electric keep its reliability ranked among the best in the nation. He also highlighted the recently launched outage app that allows members to easily report a power outage without having to call the dispatch center. Members will also receive updates about outages on their mobile devices.
“With just a couple of clicks you can now use your mobile devices to report a power outage and receive updates on the progress of the restoration,” Miller said.
Miller reported on other new technology that the cooperative is investigating.
“The advanced grid project will provide many benefits: increased system efficiencies, improved outage notification and restoration and more energy information for our members,” Miller said. “Dakota Electric’s meters and load management receivers are old and nearing the end of their useful life,” he told the audience. “This project combines the replacement of electric meters and load management receivers and adds a software system to capture the data and run analytics to improve our services.”
Miller also mentioned that besides the one-megawatt solar project to be built this year, the cooperative is pursuing other opportunities for additional solar.
Board Vice Chair Jerry Pittman discussed the board’s strategic planning work in 2016. He also reviewed the company’s roots and how local residents worked together to start the utility.
“These people and many others who helped establish the cooperative worked hard, with a vision for what could be accomplished when people worked together — that is why we are called a cooperative,” he said.
Board Treasurer David Jones gave an overview of the 2016 financials, which received a clean audit opinion from Dakota Electric’s auditor.
Will Kaul, vice president and chief transmission officer for Great River Energy, brought an update from Dakota Electric’s wholesale power supplier. He talked about the transformation of the utility industry affecting how electricity is generated, new technologies being developed and how technology is enabling customer choices.
“These changes are being driven by a convergence of digital technologies which enable customer choices,” Kaul said. “Devices such as smart thermostats, energy management systems, more efficient appliances and lighting, and affordable renewable energy resources give consumers options they’ve never had before, and that’s not a bad thing. But we do need to anticipate our customer’s wants and needs and adapt along with the market.”
The membership re-elected four incumbent directors to serve three-year terms: John (Jack) DeYoe, district 1; Janet Lekson, district 2; Margaret Schreiner, district 3; and Paul Bakken, district 4. A bylaw change that modified director eligibility requirements also passed. As a cooperative owned by those it serves, Dakota Electric holds director elections and an annual meeting each year.