Answers to some of your most frequently asked questions: substation security, solar viability, rate structure, and demand charge. Read on to learn more.

General Manager Mark Johnson speaks at the 2023 Annual Meeting

Each year, your Co-op invites you to attend the Annual Members’ Meeting. It’s an action-packed event! Candidates for the Board of Trustees speak to the membership, guest speakers address electric utility industry challenges, and the Co-op’s General Manager makes a yearly “State of the Cooperative” presentation – and takes questions, too. Typically, there are more questions asked than time available to answer, and this year was no exception.

Here are some of those questions, and answers from your Co-op:

Q. What is the Co-op doing to protect critical infrastructure, like substations?

A. A lot! Check out this Substation Security infographic to learn more. And don’t forget that as a member-owner of your not-for-profit cooperative, you play a role in security, too. If you see something, say something.

Graphic detailing substation security measures such as video surveillance, access controls, signage with warning, cybersecurity, animal shielding devices, perimeter fences, ballistic shielding, cameras and 24/7 monitoring, cybersecurity, enhanced inspections, and law enforcement controls.
Power substations are often located in remote areas, where they can be vulnerable to everything from animal intrusions to hunting accidents to vandalism. But a recent spate of incidents across the country involving deliberate targeting of these critical facilities has put utilities, policymakers and law enforcement on high alert. Here are some of the measures co-ops take to harden substations against accidental and intentional damage.

Q. Is solar power viable in this area and does the Co-op buy back excess energy from members?

A. Solar is a challenge during our cloudy winter months, but there are several members experimenting with this renewable energy resource. Each member, home, and business come with different considerations for solar – your Co-op is happy to help you explore your options. Solar systems on your home or business may be a viable option for some members. With solar, you can either participate in net metering, or have your solar generation stored in an on-site battery. Other members who are interested in solar but for whom panel installation isn’t viable can choose to participate in our Community Solar program.

Q. Please explain Energy charge (kWh), Demand Charge (kW) and Basic Charge, and how they are reflected on my bill.

A. Start by exploring our bill explanation page, which shows you where these charges are reflected on your statement:

  1. Energy Charge (kWh, or kilowatt hour)
    Reflects the amount of electricity you consumed during the billing cycle and the charges for that usage. Your Co-op uses a tiered rate structure, meaning you pay less when you consume less electricity.
  2. Demand Charge (kW, or kilowatt)
    Shows your highest demand (kW) as measured during the Co-op’s peak hours in each billing cycle. Peak hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. No weekends or major federal holidays.
  3. Basic Charge
    Is a flat monthly fee that covers a portion of the Co-op’s fixed expenses, some of which include metering, member service, universal system benefits, taxes, system maintenance, and minimum system costs. Each member shares in these expenses through the Basic Charge on their bill.

Then, check out our Demand web page for a video explanation of how peak demand works. Finally, use the Demand Calculator to explore how your electric usage is impacting your bill.

Q. Please post the Co-op’s financial statement.

A. Each year, your Co-op produces an Annual Review, which includes its financial statements, and mails or e-mails it to members. It is also available on our website — see page 4 of this PDF for the financial statement for this past year: 2023 Annual Review (PDF).

Q. I am 78 – is it possible to have my capital credits refunded?

A. Yes! Members age 75 or older may request a discounted payment of capital credits in a lump sum. Learn more on our Capital Credits page

Still have questions? This website holds an incredible amount of information, and has recently been member-optimized with an improved search bar in the upper right-hand corner, right below the “login to my account” button. Go ahead – try it out now!

Staff is always happy to help you learn more about your Co-op, too. Stop by the office, or give us a call at (406) 751-4483.

Courtney Stone

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