Manager’s Message

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

Manager's Message

In Honor of Judith Simonson, NLI Board Secretary

It is with a sad heart that I inform you of the passing of our District 2 Director Judith Simonson. As a tribute to Judith, I would like to dedicate this month’s Manager’s Report in her memory.

Judith was born November 26, 1939, and passed away Friday, December 20, 2019, in Coeur d’ Alene. She was a graduate of the Boston University School of Management and attended Harvard College, school of the Museum of Fine Arts School, Boston, and University of Wisconsin. She was a certified, credentialed director with a Board Leadership Certificate from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Judith joined the NLI Board in 1994. She served as board president for six years and board secretary for 13 years. She was deeply committed to the community, our member-owners and the cooperative principles. Judith also served on the board of the Montana Electric Cooperative Association for 20 years and was well known throughout the rural electric cooperative family as a leader and good friend.

She was known throughout Sanders County by her pen name, Jay Simons. Judith worked as a contributor for the Sanders County Ledger for more than 35 years. She loved meeting people writing stories, and always had a positive outlook on life.

Judith was devoted to her community. She was the former assistant director of Sanders County Community Development, established Trout Creek as the Huckleberry Capital of Montana, and was a board member and volunteer of the Noxon Food Bank and Thrift Store.

We are grateful to her family for sharing Judith with the cooperative. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — January 2020

No Rate Increase

Happy New Year!

Annie TerraccianoI hope everyone enjoyed the company of family and friends over the holidays, and your resolutions are 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 learn something new and exciting, let’s get to work achieving our goals in the year ahead.

I am happy to report that there will NOT be a residential rate increase this year even though NLI will see a rate increase from the Bonneville Power Administration.

Every two years, BPA conducts a formal process known as a rate case to ensure its projected revenue from
the electricity it sells will cover the expenses it incurs. The amount BPA charges must cover payments on federal dams, building and maintaining transmission lines, fish and wildlife mitigation, energy-efficiency programs and other obligations required by federal and state laws.

On October 1, 2019, BPA’s overall rates went up by 4% for NLI. This increase includes a wholesale rate increase, a transmission rate increase and a financial reserves policy surcharge.

BPA supplies 90% of NLI’s power. An increase in BPA rates makes a huge impact on the expenses of your co-op. The NLI board and employees have worked diligently to create a 2020 budget that will not require an increase in rates and allows us to absorb BPA’s rate increase. NLI stands firm on its commitment to provide safe, reliable service at an affordable price.

I wish you all the best in the new year!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — December 2019

Capital Credit Checks Coming Soon

Annie TerraccianoHappy holidays from all of us at Northern Lights!

I am excited to announce that this year the board of directors authorized a total of $1,158,314 of capital credits from the remainder of 1990 and all of 1991 to be returned to our members. This means that if you were a Northern Lights member in those years, you will be receiving 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 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 at If you find your name on the list, please call us at 208-263-5141.

As another option, you can always donate your capital credit check to the Northern Lights Community Trust, which distributes the 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