Manager’s Message

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — December 2020

Capital Credit Checks Headed to Your Mailbox

Annie TerraccianoI know this year has been tough for many. I am certain many of us are ready to see 2020 come to an end and anticipate better days ahead in 2021. On a positive note for the end of the year, I am happy to announce the board of directors authorized $1,370,000 of capital credits from 1992, 1993, and 25% of 1994 to be returned to our members. This means if you were a Northern Lights member in those years, you will receive a check in the mail in December! Your check amount is determined by the amount of energy you during that time

We work hard to serve our members by providing safe, reliable, and affordable electricity. Since our members are owners, when revenues exceed the cost of providing this service, these margins are returned to the members in the form of capital credits. Capital credits are not immediately paid out the year they were earned. These funds are used by NLI for electric lines, trucks, and equipment needed to serve our members. This offsets our need to borrow money, which would cause higher rates.

Capital credits from years past that go unclaimed are held by the cooperative. A list of all members with unclaimed capital credit distributions is available on our website. If you find your name on the list, please call us at (208) 263-5141.

You can always donate your capital credit checks to the Northern Lights Community Trust, which distributes the funds to local charities in our services area. Please see the insert enclosed with your check for instructions on how to do this. Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions.

All of us at NLI wish you a safe and happy holiday. We hope you enjoy the time with family and cherish the holiday spirit!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — November 2020

Honor and Reflection

Annie TerraccianoNovember provides us with two significant opportunities to reflect: Thanksgiving and Veterans Day.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 26, many of us will pause and give thanks. While COVID-19 may prevent many from indulging in their usual large-family activities, we can still take time to enjoy food and fellowship with those closest to us. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on what we have to be grateful for, knowing there are those who are not as fortunate.

Another opportunity each year to reflect and give thanks is Veterans Day on November 11. Our country would not have the freedom it does today without the sacrifice of our veterans. I would like to say thank you to each member who has given their time to serve and sacrifice for our country. At Northern Lights, we appreciate your patriotism, love of our country, and the sacrifice you made—or make—for the common good.

We also appreciate the sacrifice of each family with a loved one who has served, or is serving, in our armed forces.

We know many will celebrate both of these holidays while service members are away.

I am proud of our Northern Lights family who have provided service to our country. I want to thank our Northern Lights directors David Pemberton and Jill Vandegrift for their service.

In closing, while you take the time to think about the things you are thankful for, I want to thank you, our members, who support public power.

Enjoy the Thanksgiving season!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — October 2020

Celebrating National Co-op Month

Annie TerraccianoI hope you are enjoying the fall season that is upon us. I appreciate the beautiful colors and cooler weather. I get to see one of my favorite colors this time of year when the tamarack needles change. Going on a drive or a hike in our beautiful area is a great thing to do in the fall.

October is the month to celebrate the benefits cooperatives bring to our communities. Whether the cooperative’s focus is food, child care, insurance, electricity, or some other service, we all exist to help serve a need in the communities we live in.

Cooperatives are unique. We are not-for-profit, democratically controlled, and member-owned. The cooperative business model is about meeting the needs of the people, not maximizing profits. In the U.S., more than 900 electric co-ops serve an estimated 42 million people. At Northern Lights, we have more than 18,000 members and 2,800 miles of distribution lines that serve members in Northern Idaho, Eastern Washington, and Western Montana.

NLI is overseen by a seven-member board of directors, each elected by the members of the district in which they represent. Our power comes from the Bonneville Power Administration and our own dam on a tributary of the Kootenai River, which NLI distributes to each of its members’ homes and businesses.

One way NLI serves its community is through Operation Roundup. Members can round up their monthly energy bill to the nearest dollar to help families in need. Members can also choose to donate to the Helping Hand program, designed to help struggling members with their power bills; or Project Share, which provides home heating assistance. If you would like to participate in any of these programs, please contact us to sign up.

During these unusual and trying times, it is important to come together as one cooperative family and help each other when needed. We are stronger together.

Happy fall!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — September 2020

New District 2 Director

Annie TerraccianoHappy Labor Day! I hope you all enjoyed your summer and are ready for some cooler weather and beautiful autumn colors.

Join me and the NLI Board of Directors in welcoming Jill Vandegrift of Trout Creek as the new District 2 director covering the area south of Bull Lake in Montana from Clark Fork, Idaho, to Thompson Falls, Montana.

Jill was appointed after the passing of Judith Simonson, who was the District 2 director for 25 years.

Jill is joining the board with extensive business, military, and emergency management experience. Her knowledge and skill set make her an excellent addition to the board.

What is the role of NLI’s board of directors in serving the membership?

Board directors are democratically elected by the membership to govern and direct the affairs of the cooperative. The board of directors are fiduciaries—people to whom power is entrusted for the benefit of others. The fundamental fiduciary responsibility of the board of directors at NLI is to carefully represent the interests of the members as a group in directing and overseeing the business and affairs of the cooperative within the law.

NLI is overseen by a seven-member board of directors. Each director represents a specific geographic area of our service territory covering north Idaho, western Montana, and eastern Washington. Being a director is a big responsibility. The electric utility industry is an ever-evolving, high-tech system that must be designed and engineered to meet regulatory and consumer standards for reliability, quality, and safety. In addition, there are numerous challenging industry issues such as power supply, regulatory requirements, and environmental issues.

To fulfill their duties, the board of directors at NLI commit time to education. On a regular basis, directors attend training courses on topics such as board governance, financial decision-making, and strategic planning, to name a few. This education helps prepare the directors to make wise business decisions in the boardroom.

Albert Einstein once said, “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” At NLI we agree with this philosophy.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — August 2020

Tree Trimming Reduces Fire Danger

Annie TerraccianoTo keep a safe, reliable, and affordable power supply running to your home or business, staff at Northern Lights is always on the lookout for foliage growing under lines, overhanging branches, or any trees that may pose a risk to the lines. Tree trimming not only helps keep the lights on, but reduces fire danger.

We continuously check our 2,800 miles of distribution lines for areas that need maintenance. Except in emergency situations, you will be notified prior to any trimming done in the right-of-way along your property.

If you notice any trees or branches that may pose a risk to our power lines, please let us know and we will send a crew out to assess the situation. When planting new trees or foliage, keep in mind how tall and wide they may grow in relation to how close they are to any lines. Never plant anything under the lines. Also, if you need to cut down a tree, or are trimming your own trees, please check for nearby power lines.

Although NLI can only trim trees that pose a danger to our lines and poles, trimming your own trees can also help reduce fire danger on your property. Keeping low-hanging branches pruned 6 to 10 feet off the ground, removing any tall shrubs or grasses from underneath your trees, and keeping your lawn and shrubs well hydrated can go a long way toward protecting your home. Visit the Firewise website to learn more.

If fire threatens the power lines and preventive vegetation management measures haven’t been successful, NLI is prepared to shut down the lines at the request of firefighters for their own safety while fighting the fire. Power will be restored as soon as possible once the danger has passed.

Enjoy the August weather and be safe. When we work together, we can keep the lights on and reduce our fire danger.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — July 2020

Sign Up for SmartHub

Annie TerraccianoHave you signed up for our new online account management program called SmartHub yet? SmartHub allows you to easily view your current electric bill, make a payment, report outages, and view your use history on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. It takes only minutes to sign up and makes accessing your account easier than ever. Visit our website and click on “Register for Online Access” within the “Manage Your Account” box to sign up today.

Stop the Spread of Invasive Mussels

Summer is here! It is my favorite season and the time to get out on the lake to fish, water ski, or enjoy a leisurely boat ride in the sun. If you take your boat out of state, be careful before returning. Invasive quagga and zebra mussels are looking to hitch a ride to our pristine Idaho and Montana waterways.

These invasive mussels wreak havoc wherever they call home. They deplete the nutrients in the water and upset the ecosystem. They also colonize on hulls of boats, recreational equipment, irrigation equipment, and hydroelectric power plant equipment. Once they move in, they are pretty much a permanent house guest.

How do you go about keeping those pesky creatures from moving in? Clean. Drain. Dry. Clean any visible mud, plants, or animals from your boat. Drain all water from the motor, bilge, livewell, and other water-containing devices. Dry all areas of your boat and equipment. You should also never dump live fish or organisms from one water body into another.

To protect our waterways, the state has set up a watercraft inspection station program focused on inspecting boats from affected states as they come across the state line. Inspections are free, but the cost of mussels is not. According to the Idaho Department of Agriculture, the estimated cost to Idaho alone would be $100 million annually if attempts fail to prevent an infestation. Inspection stations in Idaho have already intercepted 15 boats in 2020 carrying the invasive mussels.

I hope you are enjoying your summer in the beautiful inland Northwest! And remember: Clean. Drain. Dry.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — June 2020

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Annie TerraccianoAs our community continues to heal from the effects of COVID-19, many of our neighbors may be struggling to pay their monthly bills. Powering your homes and feeding your families doesn’t always come easy. With this in mind, I would like to remind you that Northern Lights has three programs where neighbors can help neighbors.

Since 2005, NLI members and employees have given $100,000 to Operation Round-up. Overseen by the NLI Community Trust, these donations are used to help fund our local food banks. Program participants donate an average of $6 a year when their bill is rounded up to the next whole dollar. This monthly contribution is just pennies for those who join, but makes a significant difference in the lives of many families.

NLI also has a program called Helping Hand, which helps struggling members with their power bills.

NLI participates in the Project Share program as well, which provides home heating assistance to local families. This program is a collaboration between local utility companies, community action agencies, and fuel vendors.

To donate to any of these programs, call our toll-free number or let us know how much you would like to donate by filling in the amount on the donation section of your power bill. Your contributions help in a tremendous way, so please consider giving to those who need assistance.

As we move into June, I am eager for summer to arrive, which is just around the corner. However, we are still dealing with the effects of COVID-19, so let us still think of those who need our help, and give just a little of ourselves to make a huge difference and warm the hearts and homes of families in need.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — May 2020

Fighting COVID-19, We Are More Powerful Together

Annie TerraccianoAs a locally-owned electric cooperative, we’ve always been driven to help our community grow and meet whatever challenges come our way.

We have been here for 85 years and will get through this together.

Northern Lights Inc. is closely monitoring COVID-19 and its impact to our region. The safety of our employees, members and community remains our highest priority. NLI has implemented a mitigation plan aimed at reducing the spread of illness while ensuring our ability to continue providing exceptional member service.

We are monitoring advice from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and our state and local governments, and will adjust our practices as needed to follow their guidance. As your community’s energy provider, we are committed to keeping energy flowing. At the same time, we’ve taken several steps to preserve community and employee health.

Lobby Closed to the Public

As we work to limit person-to-person contact, we made the tough decision to close our offices to the public. But rest assured, we are not closed. Instead of coming to an office to speak to us in person, we encourage you to manage your account from the safety of your home.

Visit our home page and use SmartHub to make payments and track your energy use. You can always call us at (208) 263-5141.

If you need to drop off a payment, our payment drop box remains open in the parking lot of our Sagle headquarters at 421 Chevy St.

Annual Meeting Postponed

The NLI Board of Directors decided to postpone our 2020 annual meeting that was scheduled for May. We will reschedule the meeting as soon as it is safe to do so.

I’m not sure what life will look like in the next month, two months or even a year down the road, but I do know our community. We are resilient. We will adapt. We will get through this.

We may be apart, but we are still—now more than ever—More Powerful Together.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — April 2020

Thank You to Our Linemen

Annie TerraccianoApril 18 marks Lineman Appreciation Day across the U.S. It is our honor to celebrate the hard work, innovation and dedication of electrical lineworkers. Without them, we would not have many of the luxuries we have today because of electricity.

We often take power, and the men and women who provide it, for granted. Many of us were quickly reminded of this on the evening of March 13, when a massive storm came in from the north and wreaked havoc on NLI’s infrastructure. With sustained 30 mph winds and gusts of up to 60 mph, many trees were uprooted, tearing down lines and breaking poles. The storm caused more than 12,000 members to be without power, and there were 23 broken poles. NLI linemen, along with numerous contract crews, worked around the clock through the weekend in the worst possible conditions to restore power to these members.

I would like to thank all the members who experienced outages after this massive storm. Being without electricity is never easy, especially in frigid temperatures. Your patience means so much to us during these difficult times. I would also like to give a special thank you to the kind members who brought food to our line crews, and even the ones that gave a friendly wave or a thumbs up. These acts of kindness do not go unnoticed. Lastly, to the Northern Lights employees who worked tirelessly through the weekend, thank you for your hard work and dedication to NLI. It makes me proud to watch our employees come together during these emergency situations and work so diligently to restore power to our members.

National studies consistently rank power line work among the most dangerous jobs in the country, and for good reason. Laboring high in the air while wearing heavy equipment and working directly with high voltage, linemen are smart, brave and must always work safely and efficiently. They put their lives on the line 365 days a year under dangerous conditions to build, maintain and repair electric infrastructure. NLI’s linemen maintain more than 2,800 miles of power lines serving more than 20,500 accounts in northern Idaho, western Montana and a small piece of eastern Washington. Although beautiful, this terrain is rugged and remote. Our crews are standing by to serve NLI members around the clock to keep your power on and, if there is an outage, to restore it as soon as possible. Please take a moment to appreciate our local linemen, who go above and beyond, no matter the weather, to keep our lights on.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — March 2020

The Power of Hydro

Annie TerraccianoFor decades, the Pacific Northwest has relied on clean, renewable hydropower for the vast majority of its energy needs. It is a carbon-free, low-cost resource that works to power our homes and businesses. Because hydropower is clean and renewable, the Pacific Northwest has a carbon footprint that is half that of other regions in the country. It also ensures our electric rates are some of the lowest in the country, as the Columbia River dams produce energy cheaper than nuclear, coal and natural gas-fired plants.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration are expected to release a draft environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act on the coordinated water management function for operation, maintenance and configuration of the 14 federal dam and reservoir projects that comprise the Columbia River system. After the draft EIS is released, there is a 45-day comment period for Northwest citizens to review and give their feedback. This critical report will influence the future of the Columbia and lower Snake River dams.

Most of Northern Light’s power comes from hydropower, which includes 10% from our own Lake Creek Dam in Montana. BPA supplies the other 90%. Each year, BPA spends millions of dollars on efforts to help improve access for salmon with great success. Every main stem federal dam in our region now has fish slides or other technologies to help young salmon migrate downstream. Fish and dams can coexist.

We hope to continue to rely on renewable clean hydropower for many years to come. Now that spring is almost here, it is a perfect time to get outside to view nature’s beautiful rivers and be glad our region gets its power from such a great renewable source.

Cheers to spring!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager