Manager’s Message

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – May 2021

NLI’s 86th Annual Meeting Goes Virtual/h2>
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

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