Manager’s Message

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – October 2021

Celebrate National Co-op Month

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

Cooperatives are unique because we are not-for-profit, democratically controlled, and member-owned. The cooperative business model is about meeting the needs of the people, not about maximizing profits.

In the U.S., there are more than 900 electric co-ops that serve an estimated 42 million people. At Northern Lights, Inc. (NLI), we have more than 18,000 members and more than 2,800 miles of distribution lines that serve members in Northern Idaho, Eastern Washington, and Western Montana.

NLI is overseen by a 7-member board of directors, each elected by members of the district 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 its members’ homes and businesses.

One way NLI serves its community is through Operation Roundup, where members can choose to round up their monthly energy bill to the nearest dollar to help families in need. Members also can choose to donate to the Helping Hand program, which is specifically 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.

Summer has come to an end. The leaves are changing and autumn is upon us. With the cooler weather comes a change of pace that allows for more time to be home with our families, enjoying one another, eating good food, and being thankful for all we have in our lives.

Happy Fall!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – September 2021

Thank Your Laborers

Annie Terracciano headshotLabor Day is Monday, September 6. While we typically relax with family and friends and have parties and backyard barbecues, the holiday’s history was not so relaxing.

The labor movement created recognition of our nation’s workforce in the 19th century. When signed into law by President Grover Cleveland, Labor Day became a federal holiday June 28, 1894. The holiday pays tribute to the achievements of all American workers and their contributions to the success of our great nation.

This year has been incredibly busy for Northern Lights employees. In the midst of so many people moving to our beautiful area, requests for construction of new services have doubled. I want to thank the Northern Lights workforce for its hard work and contribution to the success of your rural electric cooperative.

Northern Lights employees—and many of you—will be taking Labor Day off to celebrate this important holiday.

For any business owners out there, giving your workers a day off is a nice way to say thank you and acknowledge the hard work they put in every day. Of course, the entire American workforce cannot take the day off.

Whether you and your crews are still working, if your power goes out and our linemen must restore it, or if you need to just run to the grocery store for another bag of buns, let’s make sure to thank and honor workers’ dedication.

This Labor Day, let’s go the extra mile to make sure American workers know how vital they are to the community and the country as a whole.

Remember, Labor Day isn’t just another day off: It’s a deeply rooted historical holiday honoring American workers and everything they have done to make our lives what they are today.

Thank you to all the American workers out there working hard to build our structures, fix our problems and make our lives livable. Happy Labor Day!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – August 2021

Mitigating Wildfire Potential

Annie Terracciano headshotSummer is in full swing, bringing lazy days at the lake, outdoor activities, backyard barbecues, and, unfortunately, wildfires.

In recent years, wildfires have emerged as a growing public safety concern throughout the West. Although wildfires have many causes, ranging from lightning to unattended campfire sparks, electric utilities are doing their part to help keep communities safe.

Due to the extreme fire danger in our region, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), our generation and transmission provider, has changed how it operates during times of red-flag weather warnings. When specific weather conditions exist—such as high winds, high temperatures, and low humidity—BPA may temporarily shut off power to reduce the chance of power lines starting fires.

If BPA enacts a Public Safety Power Shutoff in our area, Northern Lights, Inc. (NLI) members in the Priest River and Priest Lake areas will be affected. This region has been identified as one of BPA’s top areas for high wildfire risk. Other areas may briefly be affected during switching operations. Members will be notified if possible, and we will do everything we can to restore power as quickly as possible.

With our extremely dry conditions, keeping vegetation away from power lines continues to be a priority for NLI. We constantly trim trees and remove vegetation in utility easements to remove fuel for fires and keep trees and limbs from coming into contact with our lines to reduce fire risk. NLI continues to work closely with BPA to monitor weather conditions and ensure we are taking all possible precautions to avoid a wildfire, while maintaining our commitment to provide reliable electricity.

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 2021

Sign Up for SmartHub

Annie Terracciano headshot

Have you signed up for our online account management program called SmartHub? 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. Click “Register for Online Access” within the “Manage Your Account” box on the homepage 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 just enjoy a leisurely boat ride in the sun. If you take your boat out of the state, be careful before returning—the invasive quagga and zebra mussels are looking to hitchhike a ride to our pristine Idaho and Montana waterways.

These invasive mussels wreak havoc wherever they call home. They deplete 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 keep 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.

To protect our waterways, watercraft inspection station programs focus on inspecting boats as they come across the state line. Inspections are free, but the cost of letting mussels through is not. According to the Idaho Department of Agriculture, it would cost Idaho an estimated $100 million annually if an infestation occurs. Inspection stations in Idaho have already intercepted 22 boats in 2021 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 2021

Have a Generator? Please Read—It Could Save a Life!

Annie Terracciano headshotNational Lineman Appreciation Day was April 18. Coincidentally, Mother Nature brought us a fierce windstorm that day, bringing all Northern Lights, Inc. (NLI) linemen from their homes to work. These linemen worked for the next 24 hours repairing the lines to restore power to NLI members. We truly appreciate our linemen and all they do for us.

During storm restoration, one of our NLI linemen had an electrical contact. He was checking an individual service that was out of power and had an improperly installed a generator. The generator backfed electricity onto our equipment and shocked the lineman. Thankfully, the lineman was able to quickly release his hold and get to the ground. He only experienced minor injuries and is extremely lucky. He easily could have died.

What is generator backfeed? Backfeed occurs when power travels from the generator back through the utility lines and reenergizes them, creating a potentially deadly situation for linemen.

To prevent backfeed, generators—whether permanent or portable—should never be plugged into a home’s wiring or directly into the circuit breaker panel. Instead, a transfer switch should be installed. A transfer switch ensures your household wiring, or selected circuits to be supplied by the generator, can’t be connected to the power grid and the generator at the same time, eliminating any chance of backfeed. It also protects your generator from damage if the power is restored while it’s connected. Make sure a qualified, licensed electrician installs the transfer switch for you.

NLI’s responsibility for electric service ends at the meter. We do not know when, or if, you have installed a generator, and we do not know if the installation was done to the specifications of the National Electric Code.

When the power goes out, having a generator means you can continue to have heat, light, and many other conveniences we’ve come to enjoy. Please make sure you aren’t creating unnecessary danger by properly and safely using your generator to prevent backfeed. It could save a life!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – May 2021

NLI’s 86th Annual Meeting Goes Virtual

Annie Terracciano

Spring has sprung! As many of you know, May is when we typically hold our annual meeting. Last year, when COVID- 19 hit, we, unfortunately, had to cancel our annual meeting. This year, we have decided to change things up a bit. Our goal is to continue to keep safety a priority. Therefore, we have decided to conduct Northern Lights’ 86th Annual Meeting virtually Wednesday, May 12 at 6 p.m. PDT.

No internet? No problem! Members can join the meeting by telephone. Visit our Annual Meeting blog post or call (800) 326-9594 for details on how to join the meeting.

The virtual meeting will include the usual order of business, an update on your electric cooperative’s financial status and upcoming projects, the announcement of this year’s scholarship winners, and the results of the director election. Our team has been working diligently to organize a successful meeting where everyone who wants to participate can. As a member-owner of Northern Lights, we appreciate your interest and involvement in your cooperative.

This year, there are two districts up for election. These seats are currently held by Director Jill Vandegrift, District 2; and Director David Pemberton, District 4. Members residing in these districts should have already received an official ballot in the mail with information regarding the candidates running in their district.

I look forward to a successful annual meeting and hope you can join us online or by phone.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – April 2021

Thank You to Our Linemen

Annie TerraccianoApril 18 marks Lineman Appreciation Day across the United States. 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 power, and the men and women who provide it, for granted. Linemen work safely, smartly and efficiently, all while 40 feet in the air. 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 21,000 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.

Linemen have always taken pride in their work and continue to strive to be first-rate in their trade. They remain heroes to the community in times of outages and repair, and remain dedicated to maintaining the legacy of the pioneering linemen before them.

Thank a lineman today for keeping the lights on!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – March 2021

Spring is on the Way: Call Before You Dig

Annie TerraccianoSpring is almost here! I so enjoy the transition from winter to spring. I am excited to see the flowers start to bloom, green grass, birds chirping, and longer days ahead.

With the weather starting to warm up and the trees and shrubs beginning to bloom, many of us are working on those outdoor projects we have been eager to start. Sometimes we can let our enthusiasm overshadow basic safety and common sense.

First, plan your work and then work your plan. Check your surroundings both high and low. Be aware of overhead power lines when trimming trees and shrubs. If you’re digging holes for new fence posts or to plant trees or shrubs, ask yourself where possible underground wires may be. It is important you do not nick or cut them with a shovel or pick.

If you are unsure about the location of underground wires, please take a minute and call 811 before you dig. The process is quick, easy, and, more importantly, free! When you call 811, you are connected to the One Call Center closest to your area. The call center takes your information and notifies Northern Lights of your request. A qualified professional is dispatched from the co-op to identify and mark the location of underground power lines before you dig. To ensure your job stays on schedule, please call a few days before you are ready to dig. Knowing what’s below ground will protect you, your family, and your neighbors.

It’s just as important to be aware of overhead power lines in your area. Look up before moving irrigation pipes, using a ladder, installing a new antenna or flagpole, or moving large trucks, trailers, or heavy equipment.

For indoor projects that involve wiring and electrical fixtures, make sure you always turn the power off at the breaker panel to avoid getting shocked.

Please take proper precautions as you begin your springtime chores.

Cheers to spring!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

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