April 2023 PIE&G

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Big Blue Business MICHIGAN’S BLUEBERRY INDUSTRY Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op April 2023 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES Vegetation Management Improves Reliability No Easy Button for Energy Rates Carbon Reduction— A Win for Everyone

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Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933.

Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors.

Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

Association Officers: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill, HomeWorks TriCounty Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com

CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.


Instagram contest winner

Nature’s masterpiece on display at the Eben Ice Caves. @dougjulian (Doug Julian)


Why these fossilized formations 350 million years in the making are in such high demand.


Vegetarian: Meat-free and delicious recipes.


Ideal terrain, a generational legacy of farmers, and the Michigan Blueberry Commission help these tiny berries make a $500 million impact.

MI Co-op Community

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community

Instagram Contest

Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account. Win $100 for photos published!

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. One-Pan Meals due May 1; Chocolate due July 1

Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit.

Win $200 for stories published!

Contents April 2023 Vol. 43, No. 4 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines countrylines.com


Charles Arbour

23899 M32 S, Hillman MI 49746

989-657-4358 • Term Expires: 2023

Allan Berg, Vice-Chairman

8400 Lost Lake Rd., Hawks, MI 49743

989-734-0044 • Term Expires 2023

Sandy Borowicz, Secretary 5341 Carlson Rd.,Cheboygan, MI 49721

231-627-9220 • Term Expires 2024

John Brown, Chairman 21 W. Devereaux Lake Rd., Indian River, MI 49749

231-625-2099 • Term Expires 2023

Sally Knopf

1849 W. 638 Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779

989-734-4196 • Term Expires 2024

Kurt Krajniak 7630 Wallace Rd., Alpena, MI 49707

989-884-3037 • Term Expires 2025

Brentt Lucas 15841 Carr Rd., Posen, MI 49776

989-766-3678 • Term Expires 2025

Daryl Peterson, Treasurer

P.O. Box 54, Hillman, MI 49746

989-742-3145 • Term Expires 2024

Raymond Wozniak

6737 State St., Posen, MI 49776

989-766-2498 • Term Expires 2025

President & CEO: Thomas J. Sobeck tsobeck@pieg.com

Communications Director/Co-op Editor: Mairè Chagnon-Hazelman

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

3149 Main Street (M-211)

Onaway, MI 49765

Business Office & Billing: 989-733-8515

Toll-Free: 800-423-6634

Gas Emergency Toll-Free: 800-655-8565

PIE&G natural gas rates and charges are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

There’s No Easy Button

Ihave highlighted the competitiveness of our energy rates over the past year, and it’s always reassuring to see that we continue to compare favorably with our peers when it comes to delivering affordable energy. Still, comparing favorably doesn’t mean our rates will never increase. The nature of our operations entails not only a constant vigilance to repair, replace, and maintain infrastructure to meet reliability standards, but the need to modernize facilities and keep up to date with technology. These efforts and investments come with ever-increasing expenses, which will affect rates. That balance between reliability and affordability is a complex equation that requires a thorough analysis of all relevant issues. Furthermore, we must also determine the allocations and proportionate shares of any increase to each rate class, whether to increase the volume or kWh charge, the fixed monthly charge, or both—all in an equitable manner.

By now, I’m sure you realize that electric rates will be increasing soon. Natural gas rates were raised at our February board meeting; the rate change will take effect April 1. Our review indicated that we only needed to increase the cost of the gas portion of that rate. That’s not the case with electric rates. Rate reviews are a complicated process and we’ll announce the results in our May issue of Country Lines.

On a final note, April 18 is National Lineworker Appreciation Day, but I would like to acknowledge all of our teams. Our lineworkers and all employees work long hours during outage restorations and throughout our construction season. Much of their work is done behind the scenes, without fanfare or public acknowledgment. Our board of directors and I take this opportunity to do just that for all of them. We recognize your work and appreciate all of our employees’ dedication and service.

Your Board In Action

At its most recent meetings, the PIE&G Board of Directors:

• Established the natural gas cost recovery factor of $0.4926/ccf and the increase to natural gas rates effective April 1, 2023.

• Approved the 2022 Natural Gas TIER Analysis.

• Approved the 2023 Natural Gas Rate Announcement packet.

• Reviewed a preview of the upcoming electric Member Regulation Special Meeting on March 28.

• Named Sandra Borowicz as the voting delegate for the election of the Michigan representative on the NRECA Board of Directors.

/PIEGCooperative/ pieg.com
4 APRIL 2023

We Trees, Too.

We know everyone in our community enjoys the beauty and shade trees provide. But trees and power lines can be a dangerous mix without regular trimming during the growing season.

If you see us out in the community trimming, remember the many benefits it brings:

• Keeps power lines clear of tree limbs

• Helps us restore power outages more quickly

• Keeps crews and members of our community safe

• Reduces unexpected costs for repairs

Trimming improves service reliability for you, the members we serve.



Petoskey Stone

When you think of searching out fossilized rock formations, you’re likely to conjure movie icons like Indiana Jones, Dr. Alan Grant, or Lara Croft. But along the coastlines in northern Michigan, you’ll see plenty of regular people flocking to the beaches and shoreline to do just that, in search of the state’s favored Petoskey Stone.

As told by the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, well before dinosaurs roamed the earth, over 350 million years ago,

the land we know as Michigan was located near the equator. Covered by a warm, shallow, saltwater sea, the colonial coral hexagonaria percarinata thrived with other marine life in tropical reefs. The earth’s plates moved and pushed Michigan north to the 45th parallel and above sea level, which created dry land formations. More recently, about 2 million years ago, glacial action scraped the earth and spread the fossils across the northern Lower Peninsula, depositing major concentrations in the

Petoskey area. The prehistoric fossil is called the Petoskey Stone, and it became Michigan’s official state stone in 1965.

While the history lesson is cool, what makes the Petoskey Stone such a coveted treasure by visitors and residents alike?

“Petoskey Stones are unique looking, and actually quite easy to spot on the beach,” said Jim Powell, the bureau’s executive director. “But I tell

6 APRIL 2023

“While you’re busy looking down at the sand, rocks, and waterfront, don’t forget to look up every once in a while. There’s so much natural beauty to take in all around you.”

you, once you find your first one—you get hooked.”

Both the stone and the town that is home to this geological treasure are named in honor of a local chief of the Odawa Nation and well-respected businessman, Chief Ignatius Petoskey, and symbolize the area’s rich history. Whether people are walking along the water’s edge or visiting the town from out of state, the sheer number of gift shops and stores offering the stones or trinkets made out of the fossils speaks to the demand for the keepsake.

“We’ll get people in at the visitor’s center on a drizzly day wondering what to do,” said Powell. “I tell them, consider it good luck because that’s the best time to look for Petoskey Stones.”

With the faint outline on the stone, you can sometimes miss the intricate

fossilized coral imprint. However, the outline becomes clearer and easier to find when the stones are wet. Which often leads to the question—are Petoskey Stones hard to find? Powell says, “no.”

“Each spring, after the ice recedes, the weather, wind, and waves bring new stones to the surface,” said Powell. “By the end of summer, they may seem pretty picked over, but one good storm can always stir up more.”

Powell adds, “While you’re busy looking down at the sand, rocks, and waterfront, don’t forget to look up every once in a while. There’s so much natural beauty to take in all around you.”

This is just one of many tips the Visitors Bureau can offer. Powell has several helpful suggestions if you’re a newbie rock hound.


Always be careful and mind your surroundings— especially if you’re walking on rocks, which can be slippery. Also, keep an eye out for wave action, and don’t get too close to the breakwater.


Be aware of your location. While public beaches and parks offer full access to visitors, make sure you haven’t wandered onto someone’s private property. Bayfront Park or Magnus Park are good places to start.


Is there a limit if you’ve gotten the hang of Petoskey Stone hunting? According to the Michigan DNR, you are only allowed to remove 25 pounds of stones per year. So, unless you’ve got some massive plan for making a Petoskey Stonehenge—consider leaving some for other rock hunters.


As we said, spring is the optimal season, but you might find some newly turned rocks after a big storm. Bring along a bucket or other container to carry back your finds. Also, pack a garbage bag to pick up trash along the way. It’s the best way to thank the land for your treasures.


Petoskey Stones are beautiful just as they are, but they can also be sanded or polished with rock polish or mineral oil. Never put a Petoskey Stone in a rock tumbler. They are highly porous and will disintegrate— putting all your hard work to waste.

If you’re planning on being in the area, check out the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau website to help make it a trip to remember—PetoskeyArea.com.


Furry Friends

1 9 6 7 8 3 11 2 10 4 12 5 13

Enter to win up to a $50 energy bill credit!

Submit Your “Backyard Farming”

Photos By April 20!

Submit your best photo and encourage others to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our photo contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines, along with some of our other favorites. Our April theme is Backyard Farming

Photos can be submitted through April 20 to be featured in our June issue.

To enter the contest, visit pieg.com/photocontest

Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2023, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your January 2024 bill.


2. Sweet little Colby! Donald Wilton

3. Scout the outdoor wonder dog!

Colleen Pilgrim

4. Shaggiest ready to ride!

Doug Gregory

5. Friends forever. Amie Coloff

6. Willow Dean. Joseph Sage

7. I love you! Pamela Baker

8. Nice pillow! Joy Klarich

9. Cool doggie. Jode Paull

10. Relaxing while on guard.

Denise Kirchoff

11. Big Red Dog! Gloria Zalewski

12. Lemmy’s lamb was always waiting for him when he was visiting us at our nirvana in Lewiston. Carol May

13. I’m gonna grow into these ears! Suzanne Fisk

14. Pick me. Cheri Potysch

15. King of the hill!

Barbara Freudenmuth

16. Ready to play in the snow! Carol Stauske

17. Brushing my pony. Heiderose MacDonald

18. My beautiful Siamese, Amara. Chelsea Hillis

19. Our snaggle tooth chiweenie named Henry. Holly Aikens

20. Best buds! Tammy Meredith

14 19 15 20 18 17 16
1. Enjoying a boat ride, ready to jump in. Betty Wright


Meat-free and delicious.

Recipe Contest

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

One-Pan Meals due May 1; Chocolate due July 1

Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com , or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com



Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy

1 tablespoon olive oil + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 (16-ounce) package shelf-stable gnocchi

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup white wine or vegetable broth

2 cups baby spinach

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (use fire roasted for a little kick)

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

½ tablespoon dried parsley

½ tablespoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• vegan mozzarella cheese, optional

• fresh basil, optional

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi, stirring often, and cook until plump and starting to brown, 7–10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onion and carrots to the pan. Stir often over medium heat for 4–5 minutes. Stir in garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add white wine or vegetable broth; stir to deglaze pan. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, parsley, oregano, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then add gnocchi back to the pan. Cover and cook about 3 minutes. Serve immediately with vegan mozzarella and/or fresh basil on top as desired.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

MI CO-OP Recipes
by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes submitted by MCL readers and tested by recipe editor Christin McKamey
10 APRIL 2023


(“Bending” the traditional with a few flavorful additions...) Dwain Abramowski, Great Lakes Energy

3–4 tablespoons organic margarine, coconut oil, or olive oil (do not overheat olive oil)

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 large celery stalk, finely chopped

1 medium onion, medium chopped

4–5 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons minced ginger

1–2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tablespoon sugar (enhances tang of the lime)

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1–2 (14-ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes

1–1½ cup dried lentils (whatever kind you have on hand)

2½ cups water + 3 tablespoons veggie bouillon mixed in

1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk (or coconut cream, but may need to add more water)

¼ –½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (several grinds)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1–3 tablespoons lime juice

In a skillet over medium heat, add margarine and/or oils, carrots, and celery. Cook until vegetables are a bit soft (don’t overcook). Add onion and a bit of salt; cook until onions are soft. With heat on low, add garlic, ginger, curry powder, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, 2–5 minutes. Add the cans of tomatoes, lentils, water/stock, coconut milk, salt, black pepper and turmeric. Bring to boil, cover and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until the lentils are tender, 25 to 35 minutes. If soup is too thick, stir in a bit more veggie stock. Or for a thicker soup, add more coconut milk or cream to your desired consistency. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Experiment to get your favorite blend of spices. Don’t skimp on the lentils (I like my soup thicker). Store leftover soup in the fridge for up to 4 days. If it thickens too much in the fridge, stir in a little more liquid while reheating. Can be frozen. Enjoy!


Kathi McGookey, Great Lakes Energy

1 cup dried portobello mushrooms

2 cups boiling water

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

1 (32-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 (16-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (12-ounce) bag frozen vegetable crumbles (I use Boca or Morningstar)

2 teaspoons mild chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 vegetable bouillon cube (I use Knorr), crumbled or chopped into pieces

1 (12-ounce) bag frozen corn (no thawing necessary) or 1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained

Break dried mushrooms into medium pieces and put in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over mushrooms, cover, and set aside to soften for about 20 minutes. Put all remaining ingredients, except the corn, into a 7-quart pot; also include the water that the mushrooms have been soaking in. Stir well to distribute the spices evenly. Place the pot on the stove, and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat, cover the pot, and simmer until the carrots and mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add the corn at the end of the cooking time. If you like a thinner chili, add a bit more water at the end of the cooking time. If you double this recipe, only one bag of veggie crumbles is enough.


2 cups marinara sauce

Kathryn Ross, Thumb Electric

9 uncooked lasagna noodles

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed

15 ounces cottage cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 F. Ladle about 1 cup marinara on the bottom of the pan. Cook noodles according to package directions. Combine spinach, cottage cheese,

Parmesan, egg, salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure the noodles are dry. Take 1–2 tablespoons of the cottage cheese mixture and spread evenly over noodles. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles. Ladle remaining sauce over the noodles and top each one with mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls. To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.


The ground-to-sky approach to line clearance helps to make sure that trees don’t form a canopy over the lines.

Why Your Co-op Clears Vegetation

our co-op leadership team recognizes that reliable electricity is not just a luxury; it’s an expectation. That’s why your electric co-op considers its prime objective to be providing you with a reliable and safe electric distribution system. One of the most common—and crucial—ways to do this is referred to as right-of-way clearing (or vegetation management). A right-of-way (ROW) refers to a strip of land underneath or around power lines that your electric cooperative has the right and responsibility to maintain and clear. Many members may not be aware that trees can be a major obstacle to good electric service. To improve your service experience, PIE&G has an aggressive, proactive overhead line clearance program that’s proven to significantly reduce outage hours related to tree interference with our distribution system. That’s why PIE&G has invested nearly $1.5 million annually for its right-of-way maintenance for the last 10 years, and over $1.6 million in 2023.

What We Do and Why

PIE&G’s line clearance standard is to obtain and maintain a ground-to-sky clearance of 15–20 feet, free from all obstructions, on each side of the power line. Where our facilities cross private property, an easement gives us the right to use that property to maintain our right-of-way. An easement can be written and recorded, meaning it is signed and on file at the county Register of Deeds office where the service is located. An easement may also be unwritten, or “prescriptive,” where the land has been used for utility

purposes in a continuous and open manner for the statutory period of 15 years under Michigan law.

PIE&G’s line clearing program consists of two approaches: mechanical clearing and herbicide application.

2023 Mechanical Clearing Plan

Mechanical clearing is scheduled throughout the year between January and December. PIE&G’s licensed contractors will trim overgrown trees along 251 miles of overhead line at various locations throughout our ninecounty service territory. Members who may be in proximity to areas designated for mechanical clearing will be notified by mail prior to the onset of work in that area. PIE&G will determine if there are trees in your maintained lawn area that should be trimmed or cut. A representative from one of our contracted crews will attempt to contact you in person before the work is started.

2023 Herbicide Application

The schedule for herbicide application is set to occur between March and October. PIE&G has hired professional, licensed contractors to treat approximately 379 miles of line throughout its service territory with state-approved herbicide. PIE&G will notify members whose service is near the designated areas by mail prior to the onset of work. Herbicide is not applied to mowed lawn areas. Herbicide effectively controls tall-growing trees and bushes while

12 APRIL 2023

A newly cleared right-of-way can look extreme at first, but as the growth returns, the landscape regains its natural beauty.

promoting low-growing plants such as grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs that are beneficial to wildlife. It offers longerterm results in a more cost-effective way and is endorsed by several environmental, forestry, and wildlife providers as offering benefits to many wildlife species.

Jobsite Cleanup

Our contract crews dispose of trimmed branches and limbs in the most economic and practical manner possible. It is customary during regular line clearing activity that crews will remove branches and limbs within maintained or landscaped areas, and leave the wood for use by the property owner. In unmaintained areas, crews will leave wood, branches, and limbs for use by the property owner to decompose naturally. PIE&G does not remove stumps after tree removal. During emergency power restoration activities, crews clear trees off and away from our lines in order to make repairs. PIE&G does not return to remove wood, branches, and limbs that were removed during outage restoration efforts.

Our Commitment to Safety

Safety is a top priority for PIE&G. Although Mother Nature provides an amazing setting for our enjoyment of outdoor activities, it’s best to keep your activities away from overhead power lines. If you see a downed power line due to a fallen tree or branch, stay away and immediately call PIE&G to report it. To avoid potential electrical contact, never attempt to remove branches or trim trees that are near power lines. Any tree in close proximity to a power line can present a safety hazard.

Service Line Trimming

PIE&G will trim along the service line running from the transformer to your home when a tree is in contact with the power line. We do not remove trees located near service lines. If you plan to have a tree removed from your property, contact us a week or more in advance so we can schedule a crew to visit, de-energize, and drop the line so you can have the tree safely removed. PIE&G will need at least five business days’ prior notice.

Plan Ahead

Trees and power lines do not mix, so careful planning is important before you begin any landscape plan or outdoor project. Trees grow quickly, so the seedling you plant today may well reach a height exceeding 30–50 feet in a few years. Avoid planting trees beneath overhead utility lines or near your service line. Be safe. Look around and note what’s overhead, on the ground, and underground before beginning any outdoor work project. Be sure to call 811 or MISS-DIG at least three days before digging, to request that underground utilities be marked.

For More Information

For more information about PIE&G’s line clearance procedures, contact our Member Services Department at 800-423-6634.


Big Blue Business


Over 13,000 years ago, tiny azure berries were located on leafy bushes and enjoyed by indigenous Americans gathering food. Back then, blueberries were referred to as “star berries” or “star fruit” because of the five-point star that is created on the blossoming end. They were eaten fresh, as well as smoked—in order to keep for the less “fruitful” winter months. The blueberry that we know and love in our pies, muffins, and parfaits has a rich history in our country as one of the few fruits indigenous to North America.

That history continues here in Michigan, which is one of the largest growers in the United States. While final numbers from 2022 are not yet available, our 20,000 bearing acres produce somewhere between 75 and

100 million pounds annually. Those pounds of fresh fruit are grown and harvested on the nearly 600 familyrun farms across the state—many of them overseen by third- or fourthgeneration growers.

“The generational legacy of blueberry farms in Michigan is pretty impressive,” said Nancy Nyquist, executive director of the Michigan Blueberry Commission. “These growers have such an amazing commitment to the land, their communities, and to this relatively close-knit industry.”

While geographically, the blueberry industry may feel cozy, the impact on our state is far-reaching. Nyquist says blueberries have about a $500 million impact on our state’s economy.

14 APRIL 2023

“A half a billion dollars generated from this tiny berry is pretty impressive,” said Nyquist. “Especially because blueberries are only being harvested for a few months out of the year in Michigan.”

While there are blueberry farms across the state, the densest areas of growth are in the southwest part of the Lower Peninsula, where the sandy soil and climate, which are moderated by the lake, produce perfect growing conditions. Of course, there is the hope that conditions will continue to be optimal and that there may be room for growth in the industry.

This is where the Michigan Blueberry Commission comes into place. It helps to leverage funding to support testing, research, and projects that can support the industry. The organization has been able to invest back into the blueberry industry to the tune of $900,000 through research grants. They assess certain challenges like a recent spotted wing drosophila influx, an insect that damages blueberry crops. They then determine how to limit the chemistry that is used to control the pests. Nyquist says the commission is starting to see the results of its efforts.

“The commission was developed to improve the economic position and competitiveness of the Michigan Blueberry industry—and we are

“ The commission was developed to improve the economic position and competitiveness of the Michigan Blueberry industry---and we are doing this by supporting research, education, and promotional programs to ensure that Michigan has the best blueberries.”

doing this by supporting research, education, and promotional programs to ensure that Michigan has the best blueberries,” she said.

While the commission is making efforts to grow the industry, Nyquist notes that blueberry lovers can help as well by reading labels in their local grocery store for Michigan-grown berries, grabbing fresh pints at the farmer’s market, or heading out with friends and family to enjoy a local U-Pick farm.

“We want our blueberry growers to succeed,” said Nyquist. “They go out every day with generations of experience and knowledge, and they put it all on the line because they have a passion and a desire to provide food for the families they serve. They’re proud of their work, and they should be.”


PIE&G’s Energy Optimization Program Drives Reduction in Carbon Emissions

ast year, PIE&G began to track the reduction in carbon emissions achieved through our Energy Optimization (EO) program, which rewards members for energy-saving efforts. As we shared in last month’s issue, a review of the 2022 results showed that member participation in the program made a significant impact. PIE&G members reduced carbon emissions by 506,560 pounds, or more than 250 tons! That’s major carbon savings, equivalent to the emissions from 1,035 barrels of oil consumed or 87 homes’ electricity use for an entire year.

This reduction in emissions was made possible by PIE&G members saving energy and money through participation in the EO program. From incentives for efficient ENERGY STAR appliances, to recycling old refrigerators and freezers, the program offers residential and commercial members a wide range of opportunities to reduce energy consumption costs while doing their part for the environment. Even if members don’t directly participate in the EO program, everyone benefits in the long term from a cleaner community and state.

Our lands, waters, and forests are critical pieces of “Pure Michigan.” Reducing carbon emissions helps protect and conserve those natural resources, and fosters a healthier, more vital state. Generations to come will be able to enjoy recreational activities like hunting, fishing, and hiking, and outdoor tourism will continue to bring money to local businesses.

Reducing energy usage, and thereby carbon, further strengthens Michigan’s economy by keeping cash and jobs in state. Each year, billions of dollars are spent to bring in coal and gas from other states. Reducing fuel consumption means more of the money that is earned here stays here. Producing renewable energy also generates more good jobs for Michiganders in the rapidly growing clean energy sector. PIE&G is proud to support these efforts with our clean fuel mix that is 62% carbon-free, of which 19% comes from renewable resources.

This year, PIE&G continues to reduce carbon emissions and reward members participating in the Energy Optimization program. We encourage you to take part and help reduce emissions even more in 2023. Visit pieg.com/eo to see the complete list of incentives and offerings for your home, business, or farm. Together, we can save money and energy, and reap the benefits for years to come.

“Our lands, waters, and forests are critical pieces of ‘Pure Michigan.’
Questions? Call PIE&G’s Energy Optimization team Monday–Friday from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. EST at 877-296-4319 or visit pieg.com/eo.
Reducing carbon emissions helps protect and conserve those natural resources, and fosters a healthier, more vital state.”
16 APRIL 2023

Natural Gas Rates To Increase Effective April 1

Effective April 1, 2023, natural gas rates will increase. The Gas Cost Recovery Factor (GCR) will be raised from $0.4161 to $0.4926 per ccf (a $0.0765 increase). The distribution rate will not change.

The rising costs of wholesale natural gas and transportation are the main factors for the increase. The greater demand for natural gas creates pressure on supplies, which in turn affects costs.

Please refer to the table for the itemized charges and net effect for each rate class per ccf. Note that there is no change to the monthly availability charge, which will remain the same for each class.

Visit pieg.com/eo to see the full list of incentives and offerings for your home, business, or farm. PIE&G’s Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op’s member electric locations only. Incentives apply to qualiied items purchased and installed between Jan. 1 2023, and Dec. 31, 2023. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit pieg.com
Emissions Participating PIE&G members saved energy and money while significantly reducing carbon emissions in 2022. 1,035 barrels of oil consumed 506,560 POUNDS OF CARBON SAVED IN 2022 87 homes’ electricity use for an entire year 54,373,408 smartphones charged EQUIVALENT TO THE EMISSIONS FROM:
Energy Optimization Program Drives Reduction
Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op Natural Gas Rates Effective April 1, 2023 Residential General Service Industrial Monthly Availability $12 $17 $188 Distribution/ccf $0.48914 $0.32273 $0.27570 GCR/ccf $0.49260 $0.49260 $0.49260 Total ($/ccf) $0.98174 $0.81533 $0.76830 17 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES




Michigan electric cooperatives believe there should be “No Barriers” for veterans with disabilities. That’s the name and idea behind CoBank’s No Barriers initiative. Michigan cooperatives are looking for qualified veterans* from our local community to participate.

No Barriers is a five-day, all-expenses-paid expedition in Colorado, designed to help veterans with disabilities transform their lives through curriculum-based experiences in challenging environments (climbing, rafting, and hiking).

If you are a disabled veteran, or you know of a disabled veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, please complete the form on our website: countrylines.com/nobarriers

have VA disability rating to be eligible.

Geother mal Made Affordable




Attaches to your home’s existing heating system, it does not replace it.

Delivers 90% on average of your home’s heating needs and 100% of your home’s cooling needs.

If you have a well, simply add a Well-Connect to reduce your heating costs associated with traditional energy sources while enjoying a more comfortable home.

Financing, 30% tax credit, and rebates up to $2,000 available. GET CONNECTED TODAY 1-833-GEOWELL wellconnectgeo.com

Installs in one day, any time of year. No drilling or excavation is required. DEPENDENCY ON PROPANE, FUEL OIL, OR WOOD
pieg.com /PIEGCooperative the Power Behind Your Power. Lineworker Appreciation Day | April 18, 2023
Photo by Christopher Chagnon
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