Manager’s Message

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 www.nli.coop. 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

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — November 2019

Reasons to be Thankful

Annie TerraccianoAt my family’s Thanksgiving dinner each year, we all take turns saying something we are grateful for. My list is usually 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, safe electricity, but we also aim to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve. It is a mission we all take 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 2019, NLI sponsored several programs that support youth, education and those who need financial assistance in our service territory. We participated in many local community events, such as the Fourth of July parade, numerous blood drives and food drives. From giving scholarships to college-bound 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, because without you there would be no NLI.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Northern Lights!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — October 2019

Celebration of National Co-op Month

Annie TerraccianoOctober 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 because we are not-forprofits, democratically controlled and member owned. The cooperative business model is about meeting the needs of the people, not about maximizing profits. In the United States, more than 800 electric co-ops serve an estimated 42 million people. At Northern Lights Inc., 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 they represent. NLI delivers power to each of its members’ homes and businesses. Our power comes from the Bonneville Power Administration and our own dam on a tributary of the Kootenai River.

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 of assistance. Members can also choose to donate to the Helping Hand program, which is specifically designed to help struggling members with their power bills. If you would like to participate in either of these programs, please contact us at 208-263-5141 to sign up.

As summer comes to an end, the leaves are changing and autumn is upon us. Before we know it, those princesses, super heroes, ghosts and goblins will be knocking on our doors hoping for a treat!

Happy Halloween!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager

Manager's Message

Reporting Your Outage

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

Storms can occur any time of the year, even in the middle of our beautiful summers and early fall. When storms happen, our goal is to restore power safely to the greatest number of members in the shortest amount of time possible.

While NLI’s advancements in technology make identifying and predicting outages easier, it is still important to report your outage, if possible. When members report what is going on in their neighborhoods, it provides us with additional information to better respond to an outage. The more locations that call in experiencing an outage, the better we can pinpoint the location and extent of an issue. You can help your NLI dispatchers, and probably reduce the time of the outage, by adding specific details. For example, if you see a broken pole, broken wire or a tree on the line, let us know those details along with the specific location. All of NLI’s poles and equipment are numbered. If you can safely make note of a number, please provide that, or information about nearby landmarks. The more detailed information we receive, the better we can dispatch the appropriate crews and materials, and the faster your power will be restored.

Outages can be reported by calling or texting our outage line at 866-665-4837. To text in your outage, you need to opt-in to the program first. To get started, simply text “NLI” to our outage line at 866-665-4837 at any time. The system will recognize your phone number and officially opt you into the texting program. When you experience an outage, just text “OUT” to that same number, and your outage will be logged. You can text “STATUS” at any time during an outage for an update. When your outage has been restored, our system will send you a text stating the power is back on. If you have additional details to provide us about an outage, please call. Texting only works to say the power is out.

For the outage texting system to work, your cellphone number must be on your account. If it is not, you will be prompted when trying to sign up to call our office to have it added. If you need to update your account information, please call 208-263- 5141 during regular business hours.

During an outage, you can also 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.

Remember, if you do lose power, be sure to report it to the outage line at 866-665-4837

Annie Terracciano
General Manager