Manager’s Message

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – February 2021

January Wind Storm Relief Possible

Annie TerraccianoOn January 13, the inland Northwest experienced a windstorm producing gusts in excess of 70 miles per hour. The damaging winds toppled trees onto power lines and produced outages for more than 75% of the members served by Northern Lights Inc. (NLI). Many roadways were blocked by downed trees and power lines, greatly hampering our restoration efforts.

Fully restoring electric service to those affected by the storm required efforts from all NLI employees and cost more than $1 million. NLI crews worked around the clock to restore power.

NLI is an electric cooperative that operates on a not-for-profit basis and is owned by those it serves. Due to our not-for-profit status, NLI may be eligible for public assistance, as stipulated by the Stafford Act (Public Law 93-288), which created the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). We are working with Idaho and Montana to request FEMA assistance to cover the eligible costs of repairing or replacing the electrical infrastructure damaged by the windstorm.

I would like to personally thank everyone who helped with the restoration efforts. First, thank you to our employees, who worked quickly and safely around the clock with tireless dedication until everyone was back in service, and our contractors who arrived quickly and helped cleared countless downed trees from our lines and make critical repairs in tough conditions. Most of all, thank you to our members for your patience and understanding. We know long outages are frustrating. Your kind words and messages have meant a lot. We are proud to be your Local Electric Cooperative.

Stay safe!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — January 2021

The Value of Electricity

Annie Terracciano2020 was a tough year for many. I think it is safe to say most of us had that in common. We all struggled in one way or another, whether it was from sickness, financial hardships or not being able to see our loved ones as often as we would have liked. This year more than ever, I am so grateful to say, Happy New Year!

Since many of us have been spending more time at home, we likely have used more energy, causing our electricity bills to be higher than usual. The value of electricity goes easily unnoticed. That is, until we don’t have it.

Like many of you, I have a cellphone to stay connected, and I subscribe to satellite television to enjoy more viewing options. Here, we can see what we are getting for our money, and we willingly pay the price for those services.

When we use electricity, we don’t necessarily “see” what we are getting for our money. But considering what electricity does for us, it is a tremendous value for our quality of life. Electricity powers our modern lifestyle every day.

Think back to the cost of a gallon of gasoline, groceries, or a cup of coffee 20 years ago. Unlike most other consumer goods, the cost of electricity has remained largely flat. The average rent increase was nearly 4% from 2014 to 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index. The cost of medical care has increased 3% and education 2.6%. According to the index, electricity increased by less than half a percentage point at 0.4%. I am happy to report there will be no rate increase in 2021 at Northern Lights.

Electricity brings everyday value. Even if we don’t always see it, the value is always there. At Northern Lights, we strive to provide the reliable service you expect and deserve as valued co-op members. We continually work to improve our operations to ensure a safe and reliable grid for years to come. It is our sole purpose to serve you and the needs of our community.

I am thankful for your membership. I hope the year ahead brings good health, prosperity, and happiness to you all.

Happy New Year!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

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