By Syd Briggs,
Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric is among Minnesota’s electric cooperatives with the priority of providing sustainable, reliable, and affordable electricity. With that in mind, I want to provide an update on a piece of significant legislation Gov. Tim Walz recently signed.
While there is significant concern about the end result of affordability and reliability due to the changes this bill will cause as we approach 2040, Minnesota’s rural electric cooperatives were successful in getting legislators from both sides of the aisle to work with us to add amendments that address concerns for the next few years.
The cooperatives in Minnesota had significant reservations with the original bill, and we are thankful to everyone who reached out to legislators, made our voices heard, and made a difference in the end result that will help address reliability and affordability for several years.
Minnesota’s electric cooperatives have long been working and planning toward a sustainable, reliable, and affordable energy future. We want you, our member-owners, to know the heat will be on in the dead of winter, and the A/C available in the dog days of summer. Furthermore, we want the electricity we distribute to always be affordable for your family while being good stewards of our planet.
The Minnesota Rural Electric Association successfully secured changes to the legislation that will provide more flexibility in implementing its mandates. As one example, they sought and obtained language providing greater flexibility in the use of renewable energy credits (RECs) as an option to comply with the carbon reduction mandates.
They also received a reduction in the steep timeline, allowing co-ops to reach 60% carbon-free generation by 2030, rather than 80% at that time. All utilities still need to be 100% carbon free by 2040. However, the legislation contains “off-ramps” that allow utilities to ask the Public Utilities Commission to modify the legislation’s requirements, if needed, to protect reliability or affordability.
There were other adjustments Minnesota’s rural electric providers advocated for to improve reliability and affordability that did not make it into the final bill, but we remain hopeful additional concerns can be addressed in the future.
In the end, we want you to know electric cooperatives are working to provide an environmentally friendly energy future while keeping the reliability and affordability you expect. We ask you to stay engaged as more legislation moves through the process. If you wish, you can sign up for alerts at https://voicesforcooperativepower.com/minnesota/.
Among priorities with electric cooperatives is safety, not only for our member-owners, but also for our co-op’s employees.
If you were asked to associate an image or a person with Steele-Waseca, I believe most would picture a line technician. One of the most visible employees of the co-op, lineworkers work tirelessly to ensure our member-owners receive uninterrupted power as much as possible.
Being a lineworker is not a glamorous or easy profession. It takes years of specialized training, ongoing education, dedication, and equally important, a sense of service and commitment. How else can you explain the willingness to leave the comfort of your home to tackle a challenging job in difficult conditions, when most are sheltering comfortably at home?
This dedication and sense of service to the community is truly what sets them apart. That’s why the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) sets aside the second Monday in April to recognize the men and women who work around the clock to keep the lights on.
Our dedicated and beloved lineworkers are proud to represent Steele-Waseca, and they deserve all the appreciation and accolades that come their way on National Lineworker Appreciation Day.
On April 10, and any time you see a lineworker, I hope you’ll join me in thanking them for their exceptional service. I also hope you’ll remember you have a dedicated team of professionals working behind the scenes at the co-op whose commitment to service runs just as deep.