Manager's Message: When the Going Gets Tough…
Over the past six months, your electric co-op dealt with one challenge after another. For instance:
• On Sunday, Nov. 17, a wind storm caused widespread power outages throughout the Midwest. Over 500,000 electric services were affected in Michigan alone, and at peak, over 3,000 HomeWorks members. Fortunately, damage was limited to the northern half of our service area, and our Portland-based crews and equipment were available to help. All services were restored by Tuesday night.
• The Christmas 2013 Ice Storm. This one was bad enough to get its own name. Ice started forming the night of Dec. 21 and caused 6,800 members across our southern service area to be out of power, some until Thursday, Dec. 26. We called in mutual aid from four Michigan co-ops, and added four tree crews, in addition to bringing our Blanchard crews and equipment south. These crews, plus dispatch, customer service, and other staff, worked 16- to 18-hour days, giving up Christmas with their families to restore power to our members.
• Our propane business was hit by its own storm. Late grain drying across the Midwest left suppliers no time to replenish their stocks before the heating season cranked up, and the tight supply and higher demand sent costs up quickly. Our guaranteed capped price for the heating season is a promise to our customers, and we kept that promise. Our crews made sure the supply we did have got out to customers’ tanks so they wouldn’t run out during those long, cold months. We did short-fill tanks for a few weeks, but no one on our auto-fill program ran out.
• The Environmental Protection Agency continues to put the reliability and affordability of your electric power at risk, putting regulations in place that virtually shut down the most cost-effective (and most-used) fuel for electricity -- without having viable, tested technologies in place to replace coal-fired generating plants.
While we’re all trying to be more efficient, energy efficiency alone will not provide enough power to meet everyone’s needs. New technologies such as our Community Solar Garden allow us to learn more about intermittent renewables, but intermittent power won’t be enough to satisfy most people.
By planning and working together, HomeWorks got through two winter storms and a propane shortage with minimal impact on our members and customers.
Now we need to plan and work together on energy for the future, and we’ll be asking for your help through Co-op Owners for Political Action.
Come to your district meeting this month and learn more.