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Secretary of State visits McLeod Co-op Power

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, right, visited the McLeod Cooperative Power Association in Glencoe Monday, talking about issues that face businesses in the state. At left is Carrie Buckley, general manager of the cooperative.

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office is best known as the governing body of state elections, but most of its business is, well, really business.
Secretary of State Steve Simon stopped at McLeod Cooperative Power Association Monday morning to talk business.
Simon said the cooperative was chosen because it was the oldest registered business in Glencoe, having filed its original papers on Oct. 18, 1934.
In 1934, Simon added, average rent for a home was $20 a month, the average income was $1,600 a year, and a house cost an average of $5,900.
Not only is the co-op the oldest registered business in Glencoe, it has never missed filing its annual paperwork. Not every business can say that, said Simon.
Simon got a brief background about the local electrical cooperative from General Manager Carrie Buckley and Customer Service Manager Sue Pawelk.
The cooperative, which serves the rural area, has about 5,700 members, 6,800 accounts, and 8,800 meters, mostly serving rural residential and farm customers, said Pawelk.
Simon asked about regulation and mandates, in particular if Minnesota hits the “sweet spot” between over-regulation and under-regulation.
Buckley said that mandates — particularly those regarding the use of “green” or renewable energy — create something of “conundrum” for electrical providers. While conserving power is a good and desirable goal, Buckley said, the cooperative’s job is “to sell power.”
Pawelk said that mandates try to create a one-size-fits-all solutions for companies. But not all companies and cooperatives are the same.
“We know our members better than anyone else knows our members,” said Pawelk. “And we can very specifically tailor our operations to meet their needs.”
Not all cooperative members are interested in renewable energy, especially if investing in it drives up rates. But some members are, Pawelk added.
That’s why the cooperative is starting its solar “garden,” slated to start construction within the next couple of weeks.
Cooperative members can invest in the solar panels, or they can choose not to.

For more, see the April 1 print edition of The Chronicle.