Manager Connection – Reliable, affordable electricity continues in 2024

By Syd Briggs,
General Manager

Ringing in a new year sparks a sense of renewed hope and optimism about the future.

As the general manager of Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric, for me, it’s a time to reflect on where we are and where we’re going. At the heart of this reflection, I think about ways we can better serve you, the members of the co-op. 

Our team at Steele-Waseca is always looking ahead, exploring ways to innovate and utilize new technologies to improve our services. As our nation increasingly relies on electricity to power the economy, keeping the lights on has never been more important. We’re committed to powering—and empowering—our community at a cost local families and businesses can afford. 

So how are we working to ensure reliable and affordable power while adapting to a changing energy landscape and our community’s evolving needs?

One critical component of reliable power is the mix of energy resources used to generate the electricity that keeps the lights on across Steele-Waseca’s service area. You may not realize it, but Steele-Waseca doesn’t generate electricity. Instead, we purchase it from our energy provider, Great River Energy (GRE), and from there, we distribute it to homes and businesses throughout our community. Our current energy resources are displayed on the graphic below. 

We’re increasingly using more electricity generated from renewable energy sources, but we still depend on a diverse energy mix to ensure reliable power that’s available to our members whenever they need it. 

In addition to managing a reliable energy mix, Steele-Waseca is using technology to enhance our local grid, limit service disruptions and improve outage response times. 

Advanced metering technology, also known as AMI, enables two-way communication between the co-op and consumers. In the event of a power outage, AMI helps pinpoint the exact location of the outage and can even analyze damaged or tampered meters. AMI helps Steele-Waseca save money with real-time data, and ultimately improves power reliability for our entire community. 

Proactive tree trimming is another way we limit service disruptions. Scheduled trimming keeps power lines clear from overgrown limbs that are likely to fall. 

As technology advancements become more accessible, we anticipate using advanced mapping software to better maintain the environment while providing more reliable service. 

One of the best methods for improving our services to you is monitoring trends and leading practices from other electric co-ops in Minnesota and across the country. Learning from other co-ops is one of the many benefits of the cooperative business model because for us, it’s about cooperation, not competition. 

As we turn our focus to 2024, Steele-Waseca will continue working to provide the reliable, affordable electricity you expect and deserve—for today and tomorrow.