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Eight pages of news and info from Cass County Electric Cooperative
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Nicholas Wiens (left) and Bjorn Solberg of Ewetopian Farms.
Local products for local people – we’re taking a look at some of the area’s unique agricultural ventures and the passionate folks behind them.
From Farm to plate
Ewetopian Farms brings more local foods to the table
Bjorn Solberg and Nicholas Wiens didn’t always see themselves as farmers. The two became friends while attending Concordia College, where Solberg majored in education and Wiens in biology. With a shared sense of entrepreneurship, the pair knew they wanted to start a business. Their education and experiences in the foodservice industry helped them find a cause. Solberg, whose family has owned the land where Ewetopian Farms is located since 1871, formed an interest in locally sourced foods in part during sociology classes in college. Though quality food is vitally important to a quality life, there is a lack of public knowledge about how food makes it to the table. Likewise, Wiens, who grew up around ranching operations in Billings, Montana, was awed by the lack of accessibility to quality foods and the price difference between quality food and that which most people rely on. “Cheap food is not very healthy,” Wiens says. “That’s something we wanted to promote in particular: getting some options out there for decent, healthy, local food.” Two years ago, when the opportunity to use the Solberg family farmland presented itself, the business idea clicked into place, and Ewetopian Farms was born. On a cold January morning, on the Solberg farmstead a few miles south of Fargo, chickens huddle comfortably inside a repurposed 100-year-old granary-turned-chicken coop. There are a few more renovations planned for the coop, and Solberg jokes that it will soon be more “chicken palace” than chicken coop. The old structure is shelter for the egg-laying chickens owned by Solberg’s mother, who sells eggs under the Solberg Farms banner. The renovation came after a third of Wiens’ and Solberg’s meat chickens unintentionally became food for a score of non-human consumers during their first year of business. Portable pens were brought in and were moved about the yard
regularly, allowing for a safer, yet still natural lifestyle for the remaining meat chickens. Sheep — Polypay, Rambouillet, and a Polypay-Suffolk mix — move in and out of the adjacent barn through pastureland running along the Wild Rice River. Along with defending their animals from nature’s meateaters, Wiens and Solberg say introducing lamb to a customer base unfamiliar with the meat has also been challenging. “It’s an intimidating meat to a lot of people,” says Wiens. The intimidation stems from unfamiliarity, as lamb is a staple of diets in countries in the Middle East and Africa, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. Recently, as a way to introduce lamb to those who’ve never had it, Wiens and Solberg had lamb bratwurst made, consisting of 70 percent lamb and 30 percent pork with Greek seasonings. Wiens adds that lamb roast and lamb chili are excellent and relatively easy to prepare, as well. In 2016, Ewetopian Farms participated in the Red River Market in downtown Fargo, where the interest in locally produced food was high. In fact, Wiens and Solberg sold 200 chickens in just a week. Due to state food inspection regulations, customers must pick up orders directly from the farm, which presents the learning opportunity that Wiens and Solberg truly value. “We’re trying to educate people on how their food is getting to them,” says Solberg. “When they buy from us, they know where the meat is being raised and know [the animals] are being taken care of.” Together, Wiens’ knowledge of biology and Solberg’s passion for education results in a clear goal for Ewetopian Farms. “People should have more ownership over their food, more knowledge of food,” says Wiens. “It wasn’t long ago when, if you didn’t know about your food, you could die when you ate it.” The friends have been busy outside of Ewetopian Farms, too. In the near future, they plan to take over ownership of Hugh’s Gardens, a processing and distribution facility for organic produce, located in Halstad, Minn. Hugh’s Gardens currently specializes in organically grown potatoes. Though Solberg says they’d love to combine the two businesses for one “meat and potatoes” operation, he says the coming market season will help determine whether that is possible, or whether their focus should shift more to one side. Produce from Hugh’s Gardens is primarily distributed throughout the Twin Cities region, along with a few Fargo restaurants. Solberg and Wiens hope to sell their products at Prairie Roots Food Cooperative, which is expected to open this June in downtown Fargo, and plan to further expand distribution in the Fargo area.
To learn more about Ewetopian Farms and place orders facebook.com/ ewetopianfarms ewetopianfarms@ gmail.com 701-793-6830
The chicken coop is a 100-year-old granary that was moved and renovated.
Virtual home-energy audits Is your home using energy efficiently? Unless it was built quite recently to stringent energy efficiency standards, there are bound to be areas of your home where you can improve efficiency, save money, and reduce your carbon footprint.
In a perfect world, your best option is to hire a trained professional to conduct a full-blown, in-home energy audit. This usually involves a detailed inspection of your home’s insulation levels, HVAC system, lighting, appliances and exterior space. A professional energy auditor will typically conduct a blower door test to check pressurization and spot hard-to-find leaks in the exterior. In addition, a professional may use a duct blaster to identify leaks in your home’s ductwork. For those looking for the knowledge of an inhome energy audit without the associated time requirements and cost, there is a viable alternative: the online or “virtual” home energy audit. These online tools have come a long way over the last 10 years. Today’s online energy audits are user-friendly and take only a few minutes to complete.
An online energy audit can provide an assessment of your home’s energy efficiency and typically provides helpful tips on how to reduce energy waste. The audits utilize sophisticated computer models that typically use local housing types––factoring in the age, size, flooring and construction materials of the home––and local weather data. When fed the correct information, these audits are able to come within a dollar or two of actual energy bills. While a virtual home energy audit won’t provide a pressurization test of your home and ductwork, it can prove to be a convenient start for those looking to improve home energy efficiency. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Home Energy Saver (http://hes.lbl.gov/consumer/) is one reliable virtual resource. Additionally, along with the wealth of energy information provided by Touchstone Energy Cooperatives at togetherwesave.com, the room-byroom virtual home tour highlights ways you can save energy throughout your home. Looking for something a bit more hands-on? The DOE also offers information on a do-it-yourself home energy audit, providing a list of areas to check and tips for making changes. (energy.gov/energysaver) A word of caution: Be careful when using online energy audit software provided by organizations other than utilities, government agencies, or universities. Unfortunately, some companies may try to obtain information to sell their own products and services. If you see phrases like, “Learn what your power company does not want you to know” or the site looks like a marketing page, it’s probably wise to move on. The bottom line? Choose the energy audit that works for you, then implement as many of the recommendations as you can. Even taking small steps can add up to significant results and you’ll see the benefits in your utility bills for years to come.
Portable heaters Your account at your fingertips Are there certain areas in your home where the central heat just doesn’t cut it when it gets cold out? Or maybe one member of the family prefers it a bit warmer than others. In cases like these, a space heater may be the right solution. There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing and operating space heaters. • Purchase newer model heaters that feature all the current safety features, such as a tip-over switch which will shut the heater off if it is tipped over. As with all appliances, make sure your new space heater features the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) mark. • Use a heater that is thermostatically controlled. This will help cut down on overheating and wasted energy. • Most new heaters feature a general room size guide. Be sure to pick one that is the appropriate size for the room you plan to use it in. Most space heaters heat through convection, but there are radiant heaters as well. A radiant heater emits infrared radiation that directly heats objects and people in its line of sight. Depending on your needs, either type may prove effective. A radiant heater will directly heat a user and would be more useful during short periods of time. Convection heaters will tend to heat an entire room, likely more useful for warming groups of people. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations. Regardless of your type of space heater, always be sure to use it safely. • Keep it out of reach of children and pets. • Keep all objects a safe distance from the heater. • Be sure the cord is not frayed or damaged. • Always plug it directly into the wall outlet. If an extension cord is necessary, use the shortest possible heavy-duty cord and follow manufacturers’ instructions regarding the heater’s use with extension cords.
SmartHub, a web and mobile app, delivers accurate, timely account information and allows you to make payments in a secure environment. With SmartHub, members have convenient account management and detailed usage information at their fingertips to: • Manage payments • View energy use • Compare energy use • Receive alerts and keep up with CCEC news and events • Notify CCEC of any account issues • Access the outage viewer • View Highline Notes • Manage account settings With SmartHub, you can compare separate bills. This allows you to see how your energy use changes over time, such as when you’re away from home versus when you’re at home. You can even see what a difference having company over for a holiday or party may make on your energy use. When you understand how your habits impact how you use energy, you gain the ability to control your monthly bills. The two-way communication available with SmartHub allows you to notify us of account and service issues while providing us a way to let you know about special offers, programs, events and more. Enrolling in SmartHub is easy and secure! Visit kwh.com, have your account number ready, and click on the SmartHub logo. For mobile devices, search for “SmartHub” in your app store and download the app to get started.
Future of coal: carbon capture
N.D. lignite industry poised to advance coal technologies North Dakota energy companies are in a unique position to lead in the advancement of commercially viable carbon capture technology.
our companies in North Dakota and the Energy and Environmental Research Center.”
That was the message from U.S. Sen. John Hoeven during an event last summer highlighting a proposed post-combustion carbon capture project being pursued by Minnkota Power Cooperative, Allete Clean Energy of Duluth, Minn., BNI Energy of Bismarck, N.D., and the Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) of Grand Forks, N.D. Minnkota Power Cooperative is the power supplier for Cass County Electric Cooperative. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize their partnership for what’s referred to as Project Tundra.
Project Tundra would be one of the world’s only carbon capture retrofit projects on an existing coalbased power plant. The project earned its nickname when a group of carbon capture experts from Texas visited the Minnkota-operated Milton R. Young Station for an initial study during an especially cold week of winter. While the weather wasn’t ideal, it was determined that the Young Station, located near Center, N.D., was an excellent fit to pair carbon capture technology with enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The project is in the early feasibility stages, but it appears to have significant potential.
Hoeven spoke at EERC headquarters on the campus of the University of North Dakota about the significant emissions reductions and economic benefits that could be realized by pairing the state’s lignite industry with the western North Dakota oil fields through Project Tundra.
“You have a real chance to make a project like this work when you look at how close the oil and coal fields are, the technological innovation that has been demonstrated and the business climate in North Dakota,” said Mac McLennan, Minnkota president & CEO.
“Where better to do this than in North Dakota?” Hoeven asked the crowd of about 75. “When it comes to clean coal technology, no one is leading the way more than
Developing technology Project Tundra proposes to retrofit Unit 2 at the Young Station with technology that would capture the unit’s CO2 and condition it for transport through a pipeline. Upon arrival in the oil fields, the CO2 would be used for EOR on vertically drilled wells. Using CO2 as a working injection fluid could substantially increase each well’s production compared to conventional drilling practices.
“The Bakken reservoir is really only giving us about 5 percent of the oil in place,” said John Harju, EERC’s vice president for strategic partnerships. “With CO2, we think we can make meaningful changes to that recovery factor. So instead of this being something we do for the next 25 or 30 years, it’s something we do for the next 70 or 100 years.” Project Tundra, which is estimated to cost approximately $1.1 billion, will require significant funding outside of the project participants, as well as a long-term partner in the oil industry to purchase the CO2. Hoeven has been a strong supporter of the project. As a member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Committee, he helped prioritize $30 million in competitive funding for the development of commercially viable carbon capture and sequestration, like Project Tundra, in the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which the Senate passed in May. He also coordinated a meeting with the U.S. Department of Energy to highlight the project as a good candidate for those competitive funds. In addition, Hoeven is supporting work being done in North Dakota to construct an Allam Cycle pilot and demonstration power plant. The Allam Cycle
technology uses CO2 to drive turbines and generate electricity with almost no atmospheric emissions in coal and natural gas production. The CO2 could then be sequestered or used for EOR. The project is being pursued by Basin Electric Power Cooperative of Bismarck, N.D., and Allete, Inc., of Duluth. Carbon-managed world The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized in August 2015 the first-ever federal regulation requiring coal-based power plants to reduce CO2 emissions. The rule, referred to as the Clean Power Plan, has raised more questions than answers during the past year – so much so that the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily suspended the rule until litigation has concluded. Minnkota remains active in the legal process opposing the Clean Power Plan as a named petitioner in litigation. Regardless of the court’s decision on the rule’s legality, the cooperative’s board and leadership team understand they must prepare to operate in a carbon-managed world. But that doesn’t mean that coal is out of the equation. “We have a very strong interest in making sure that all energy sources have an opportunity in the future,” McLennan said.
A team of CCEC employees worked at the Health, Tech, & Trade Expo at the Fargodome in December. The event exposes area ninth-graders to the wide variety of careers that will be available to pursue after high school. CCEC employees participated in Fraser’s annual Giving Tree of Hope by purchasing several gifts for disadvantaged children and adults with special needs who would not otherwise receive gifts during the holiday season. CCEC and the City of Fargo signed a new franchise agreement, allowing CCEC to continue serving electricity in the city for another 20 years. This is great news for a continuing partnership. A legislative breakfast, hosted by
CCEC at the Holiday Inn in Fargo, was attended by many local legislators, representatives of CCEC, North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, and Minnkota Power, as well as Congressman Kevin Cramer. Co-op representatives took the chance to share with legislators the issues affecting co-ops and the energy industry in North Dakota. An ice storm moved into the region late Christmas Day, causing widespread power outages in CCEC’s western service area. Upwards of 2,000 members were without power at one point, many for 10 hours or more. CCEC linecrews worked throughout the night and late into the following day to restore power. Ice accumulation on lines, coupled with high winds, caused broken wires and many downed power poles.
Minnkota Power Cooperative, CCEC’s wholesale supplier, has invested $425 million in air quality control upgrades at the Milton R. Young Station since 2006. Minnkota and CCEC have worked hard to go beyond industry standards and federal regulations to be environmentally responsible. Visit our website to view charts that show the decrease in mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions in recent years.
• 34% wind • 8% hydro • 55% ND lignite coal • 3% other
3312 42nd St. S. Suite 200 Fargo, N.D. 58104
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Wendy Loucks, Chairman
Russell Berg, Vice Chairman
Marcy Svenningsen, Secretary Jeff Triebold, Treasurer Douglas Anderson Sid Berg
Marshal Albright, President/CEO Jodi Bullinger, Vice President of Engineering and Operations
Chad Sapa, Vice President of Corporate Services/CFO
Paul Matthys, Vice President of Member and Energy Services
Tim Sanden, Vice President of
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