Manager’s Message

Manager's Message

Annual Meeting Recap

The Northern Lights 83rd annual meeting May 12 consisted of entertainment, refreshments, giveaways and the business meeting. Check out the pictures on pages 4 and 5 of this issue. Thanks to all of the members who made the effort to attend. For those of you not able to be there, we missed you. Let me highlight what was discussed at the meeting.

NLI Board Directors in Districts 2 and 4 were up for election. Director Judith Simonson, District 2, and Director David Pemberton, District 4, ran unopposed.  Congratulations to Judith and David on their re-election.

Two proposed bylaw amendments were voted on by the members. Both amendments passed.

You will find a summary of your cooperative’s 2017 financial statements on pages 28 and 29. NLI continues to be in a healthy financial position. Members’ ownership in the cooperative grew by approximately $2.7 million in 2017. New services are still increasing, with 370 completed in the last year. In December 2017, $1.3 million was returned covering the balance for 1987 and 65 percent of 1988 capital credits.

We are seven years into our long-term power supply contract with the Bonneville Power Administration. NLI buys 90 percent of its power from BPA. We generate the other 10 percent at our Lake Creek Hydroelectric Dam in Troy, Montana. In 2017, the dam produced 27 million kilowatt-hours of energy. The dam provides our lowest cost of power, which helps keep your rates low.

In addition to owning our own hydro plant, last year NLI completed construction on Idaho’s first community solar project. The solar array is at our Sagle headquarters. Members have the option of buying up to five units of solar. The kilowatt-hours those units produce are credited back to their account monthly. Units are $300 each. We have sold 80 percent of available units.

Every year, maintaining the plant is a high priority for the NLI Board of Directors. In 2017, we replaced 240 poles, 54,000 feet of old underground cable and trimmed trees along 160 miles of line.

As we enter June, I hope you are enjoying the warmer weather, have your gardens planted and are looking forward to a great summer. To all the dads out there, happy Father’s Day.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – May 2018

83rd Northern Lights Annual Meeting

Portrait of Annie TerraccianoMay is here, which means it is time for our annual tradition. Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 12, the day of the Northern Lights’ 83rd annual meeting at the Sandpoint Business and Events Center at 102 S. Euclid Street in Sandpoint, Idaho. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The meeting kicksoff at 10 a.m. PDT.

The annual meeting provides an opportunity for members to meet the board of directors and the employees of NLI, as well as hear updates on the financial condition and future plans of the cooperative. As in years past, we will provide an electrical safety demonstration that is always a favorite with kids. There will be coffee, pastries and fresh fruit for all to enjoy, as well as a variety of great door prizes, including two community solar units and a $250 energy credit. Each member who attends will receive a $25 energy credit.

One of the greatest values of being a member of a cooperative is your right to vote. This year, two districts are up for election. Those seats are held by Judith Simonson of District 2 and David Pemberton of District 4. Both districts’ incumbents were not contested, so no election will take place in those districts this year. Every member, however, will receive a ballot in the mail for two proposed bylaw amendments. You can vote in one of two ways: in person at the annual meeting or by mail.

I look forward to meeting and talking with many of you at the annual meeting. It’s always a pleasure to meet with the faces of the cooperative.

I hope to see you there!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Thank You to Our Lineman

April 18 marks Lineman Appreciation Day across the U.S. It is our honor to celebrate the hard work, innovation and dedication of electrical lineworkers. Take a moment to appreciate our local linemen, who go above and beyond, no matter the weather, to keep our lights on.

We often take electricity—and the men and women who provide it—for granted. Linemen work 365 days a year, 24 hours a day in the blistering sun, rain, sleet and snow to do two things: keep our system safe and the power on. They put their lives on the line every day to ensure you have power at the flip of a switch.

NLI’s linemen maintain more than 2,800 miles of power lines serving more than 19,000 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’s members around the clock to keep your power on and, if there is an outage, restore it as soon as possible. Thank a lineman today, for keeping the lights on.

Annual Meeting is May 12

On a final note, our 83rd annual meeting is Saturday, May 12, at the Sandpoint Business and Events Center. Join the NLI board, employees and fellow members of your cooperative to learn more about NLI, enter to win door prizes and claim your $25 energy credit. I look forward to meeting you all.

See you at the annual meeting!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

The Power of Hydro

For 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 county. It also works to keep our electric rates as some of the lowest in the country, as dams produce energy cheaper than nuclear, coal and natural gas-fired plants.

A majority of Northern Lights’ power comes from hydropower, which includes 10 percent from our own Lake Creek Dam in Montana. The Bonneville Power Administration supplies the other 90 percent. Each year, BPA spends millions of dollars to help improve access for salmon, with great success. Every mainstem federal dam in our region now has fish slides or other technologies to help young salmon migrate downstream. Unfortunately, even with these notable improvements, the courts are forcing these dams to spill water in the spring in an unproven effort to help salmon at a cost of $40 million to consumers.

Northern Lights relies on BPA, which markets the power produced at the federal dams. Along with other local utilities relying on BPA, NLI, strives to work together to to have the lowest possible rates while being good stewards of our environment. While we support funding set aside to aid salmon, spilling water at these dams has costly ramifications for electric cooperatives and the environment, and may not be effective.

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

Manager's Message

Winter Outages

The Northwest is known as a winter wonderland, where beautiful white snow blankets the trees. But with the snow also comes winter power outages. Heavy snow and gusting wind is known to knock out your power.

At Northern Lights, our goal is to restore power safely to the greatest number of members in the shortest amount of time possible. If you do lose power, be sure to report it to the outage line at (866) 665-4837.

During an outage, crews work to restore power in the following order:

  1. Transmission towers and lines
    Transmission lines deliver all the power to Northern Lights members. These lines feed our substations.
  2. Substations
    Once the transmission lines are fixed, crews next check NLI substations to ensure they are undamaged and energized.
  3. Distribution lines
    Distribution lines deliver power from NLI substations throughout our service territory. These lines make up most of our system. This is the slowest part of the restoration process.
  4. Taps
    Taps are the individual lines that run to your property from the distribution lines. These are the last item to be fixed and can often result in you not having power while all of your neighbors do.

During an outage, you can view our outage map at www.nli.coop to get an idea of where the outages are and their size. We always appreciate your patience as our crews work around the clock in all weather conditions to get your power back on as quickly as possible.

We live in a beautiful rural area, and trees cause most of our outages with broken limbs being weighed down and falling over. The NLI Board of Directors has made it a priority to fund tree trimming. This not only helps reduce outages, but fire danger.

Enjoy your last few weeks of winter, as spring is just around the corner!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Tips to Reduce Your Winter Energy Bill

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the company of family and friends during the holidays, and have your resolutions in place for the start of a great new year. Whether your resolution is to lose weight, save money, spend more time with your family, or even learn something new and exciting, let’s get to work achieving our goals in the year ahead.

If your new year’s resolution is to save money, here are some options for reducing your energy use and your power bill.

  • Curtains. During the day, keep your curtains open on windows getting sun. Close all curtains at night to keep the heat inside.
  • Thermostat. If you have a thermostat, use a digital one and program it to heat the house to around 68 degrees only while you are home. Let the temperature drop 7 to 10 degrees at night and while you are out of the house. Make sure your furnace is serviced routinely and you are regularly changing the filters.
  • Fireplace. Keep the damper closed unless a fire is burning, and regularly have your chimney cleaned. Consider adding a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air into the room.
  • Windows. Make sure your windows are caulked and there are no gaps. You can also tape heavy-duty clear plastic to the inside of your window frame.
  • Vents. Make sure your air registers and vents are not blocked by rugs, furniture or drapes. •
  • Doors. Make sure weatherstripping around your exterior doors is in good shape. You can also use draft stoppers to lay on the ground in front of doors.
  • Refrigerator. Make sure you clean the coils on the back of your fridge annually. This cuts down on how hard the refrigerator has to work to keep your food cold.
  • Water heater. Set your tank’s thermostat no higher than 120 degrees. Consider installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to reduce the amount of water you use, thus reducing the amount of water your water heater needs to heat.

Also, don’t forget to turn off what you aren’t using: television, lights, electronics, appliances, etc. Don’t pay for what you don’t use!

I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

1987 and 1988 Capital Credit Checks Are Headed to Your Mailbox

Happy holidays from all of us at Northern Lights!

I am excited to announce that this year, the board of directors authorized $1,107,594 in capital credits from half of 1987 and 65 percent from 1988 to be returned to our members. This means that if you were a member of Northern Lights in those years, you will receive a check in the mail. Your check amount is determined by the amount of energy you used during those years.

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 paid out the year they are 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 at www.nli.coop. If you find your name on the list, please call us at (208) 255-7183.

As another option, you can always donate your capital credit checks to the Northern Lights Community Trust, which distributes funds to local charities in our service 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.

I wish you all a prosperous and happy year ahead.

Merry Christmas!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Reasons to be Thankful

At my family’s Thanksgiving dinner each year, we take turns saying something we are grateful for. My list is usually about the same: good health, loving family and friends, and a job serving the great people in our community.

I’m so thankful to be part of Northern Lights Inc. Our employees are some of the hardest working people I know. Our mission is to provide affordable, reliable and safe electricity, but we also aim to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve. It is a mission we all take very seriously.

I’m thankful for NLI because it allows employees to live alongside those we serve. The beauty of a cooperative is that it is locally owned and operated. There are no distant shareholders pulling the strings behind the scenes. Members elect members to serve on the board of directors and govern the cooperative. We are your neighbors, your friends and your family.

I’m thankful for our co-op because it serves a vibrant force in the local economy. NLI is invested in the future of its communities. In 2017, NLI sponsored many programs that support the youth, arts and entertainment of our service territory. We participated in many local community events, such as the Fourth of July parade, numerous blood drives, food drives and more. From giving scholarships to collegebound young adults, to reaching out to members with information that will help them save energy and money, we care about the people and towns we serve.

Finally, I’m thankful for you, our members and faithful readers. Without you, there would be no NLI.

Community Solar

Our Community Solar project is going strong, with fewer than 100 units still available for purchase. Participating members have seen the kilowatt-hours their unit(s) produced and credited to their bill each month. Visit www.nli.coop for more information.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Northern Lights Inc!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Rate Increase in October

I hope you are all enjoying the fall season.  I am loving the beautiful colors, cooler weather and Halloween quickly approaching! It’s fun to see the kids dressed up when they come to my door to trick-or-treat.

As I reported during the summer, the Bonneville Power Administration continues to increase the cost of wholesale power.  The increases are driven primarily by the necessary maintenance on the hydroelectric system and the required improvements at the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant. BPA’s rates to NLI have increased by 24 percent during the past six years.  The significant rise in BPA’s wholesale power costs will require NLI to raise rates by 3 percent overall, which includes a $2 increase in the basic charge from $28 to $30. The new rate will be reflected on your bill mailed at the end of October 2017.

Northern Lights is a not-for-profit electric cooperative.  This means we don’t raise rates to generate profits.  We raise rates simply to cover the cost of doing business and only when necessary.  Providing you with safe and reliable electricity is our top priority.  Our dedicated employees work around the clock to keep the lights on while properly maintaining and improving our system. Rate increases are tough for everyone, but this allows NLI to continue to keep electric service safe and reliable.

Finally, October is National Cooperative Month.  NLI is proud to be one of more than 900 electric cooperatives in the United States. The co-op spirit is alive and well, and embraced by co-ops across our nation that work together to achieve community and economic advancement.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Tree Trimming and Fire Prevention

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

To keep a safe, reliable and affordable power supply running to your home or business, employees at Northern Lights are always on the lookout for foliage growing under lines, overhanging branches or any trees that may pose a risk to the lines. We are continuously checking NLI’s 2,800 miles of distribution lines for any 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.  Tree trimming not only helps keep the lights on but can also reduce fire danger.

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 to assess the situation. To prevent issues in the future, keep in mind how tall and wide new trees or foliage may grow when planting. Assess how close they will grow to any lines. Never plant anything under power lines. Also, if you need to cut down a tree or are trimming your own trees, please check for nearby power lines.

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

In the event that fires threaten power lines, 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.

When we work together, we can keep the lights on and reduce our fire danger!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

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