February 2024 PIE&G

Page 1

February 2024


COUNTRY LINES Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

SWEEPING SUCCESS Michigan Tech’s Broomball Craze

Michigan’s New Clean Energy Laws

PIE&G Connect 3,000th Member Milestone

Impacts of Extreme Winter Weather on Reliability


Smart homeowners around the world have scrapped their old furnaces and air conditioners and replaced them with a WaterFurnace geothermal comfort system. That’s because WaterFurnace geothermal systems use the clean, renewable energy in your own backyard to provide savings up to 70% on heating, cooling and hot water. You won’t need that old inefficient furnace or that unsightly outdoor air conditioner because a WaterFurnace system provides complete comfort for your home with a single unit. And because the system doesn’t burn fossil fuels, there are no fumes or carbon monoxide concerns. Make the smart switch to geothermal. Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today to learn more. YOUR LOCAL WATERFURNACE DEALERS


Allendale Allendale Htg & Clg (800) 327-1937 allendaleheating.com

Indian River M&M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 mm-plumbing.com

Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 waltonheating.com

Bad Axe/Ubly Cutting Edge Htg & Clg (989) 551-0986

Lansing Candor Mechanical (517) 920-0890 candormechanical.com

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.co

Lowell Arctic Inc. Htg. & Clg. (616) 897-4213 heatingcoolingonline.com

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 esiheating.com

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 Topnotchheatandair.com

Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 mwphonline.com

Michigan Center Comfort 1/Air Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 airserv.com/southernmichigan/

Traverse City D&W Mechanical (231) 941-1251 dwmechanical.com

Berrien Springs Waterfurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmichgeo thermal.com Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717 stratzgeocomfort.com Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 sanduskygeothermal.com Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheating cooling.com

Alger Delta Electric: up to $4,000 Cherryland Electric: up to $2,500 Cloverland: up to $6,275 Great Lakes Energy: up to $5,000 HomeWorks/Tri-County Electric: up to $4,750 Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op: up to $4,750 Thumb Electric: 5% financing available up to $22,500 10-year term

Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000 geofurnace.com

visit us at waterfurnace.com/mi

WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc. ©2024 1.ENERGY STAR-rated units qualify for 30% through 2032, 26% through 2033 and 22% through 2034

Contents countrylines.com


February 2024 Vol. 44, No. 2 /michigancountrylines

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird RECIPE EDITOR: Christin Russman COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd

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.

10 14

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


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.

6 THE THRILL OF THE CHILL: ICE FISHING IN MICHIGAN Drill a hole and join in the fun.


Best Layer Cakes: Recipes as delicious as they are decorative.


Michigan Tech’s broomball craze.


Memories of an Ice Fisherman: A GLE member recalls the first time he saw a “dinosaur fish.”

MI Co-op Community

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

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Quiches & Savory Tarts due March 1; Tacos & Margaritas due April 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!



Striking a Balance


Tom Sobeck, President & CEO

/PIEGCooperative /PIEGCooperative

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Allan Berg, Chairman 8400 Lost Lake Rd., Hawks, MI 49743 989-734-0044 • Term Expires 2026 Sandy Borowicz, Secretary 5341 Carlson Rd., Cheboygan, MI 49721 231-627-9220 • Term Expires 2024 John Brown, Vice Chairman 21 W. Devereaux Lake Rd., Indian River, MI 49749 231-625-2099 • Term Expires 2026 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, Treasurer 15841 Carr Rd., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-3678 • Term Expires 2025 Chris Nagel 3842 N. Mielke Way, Lewiston, MI 49756 616-240-8727 • Term Expires: 2026 Daryl Peterson 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 Co-op Editor: Sommer Poquette spoquette@pieg.com

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.


ne ongoing debate within every utility’s boardroom revolves around this challenging question: Can we simultaneously achieve reliable service and affordable rates? It’s possible, but not without trade-offs. For instance, we could bury all our electric lines, virtually ensuring minimal impact from environmental factors like wind and maximizing system reliability. However, this would come at a cost—significantly higher rates, likely deemed excessive by most. Conversely, we could reduce tree trimming, vegetation management, and maintenance activities to minimize costs, resulting in the lowest possible rates. Yet, this approach would lead to increased outages and extended restoration times.


Finding the right balance between rates and reliability is a challenge that we face daily. It’s easy to be swayed in one direction or another based on current events. During the fourth day of restoring power after a storm-related outage, those waiting for their power to be reinstated likely prioritize reliability over everything else. Many costs associated with reliability are long-term and demand patience and commitment to doing what is right. Investments in new technologies, rightof-way maintenance, and replacing aging or underperforming infrastructure exert long-term cost pressures. However, they are essential for enhancing the reliability of our electric distribution system. In this edition of Country Lines, you’ll find information about our upcoming February Special Member Regulation Board meeting, where we plan to address electric rates. This meeting marks the final step in the decision-making process and the debate outlined here. We aim to ensure long-term reliability at the lowest possible cost to our valued PIE&G members through our technology, maintenance, and infrastructure replacement investments. As in the past, I assure you that the board of directors approaches these decisions with the utmost seriousness, always prioritizing the impact on the membership. We look forward to striking the right balance between rates and reliability and meeting your expectations in 2024.

Your Board In Action

At their most recent meetings, the PIE&G Board of Directors… • Approved the 2024 Work Plan for $3,370,000 • Approved the 2024 Operating Plan for $37,325,689 as a reasonable forecast for the 2024 fiscal year • Approved the 2024 Annual Membership meeting date, time, and location to be Friday, Nov. 1, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. at Posen High School. • Approved a Letter of Credit with the Federal Communications Commission for $2,252,707.20 • Approved several revised Bank Signatory resolutions • Approved a Letter of Credit with Sequent Energy for $3 million • Renewed the Line of Credit with CoBank for $8 million • Accepted June 30, 2024, as the retirement date of the cooperative’s CEO • Approved the 2024 Monthly Board of Directors Meeting schedule • Set the next Member Regulation Special Meeting for Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, at 9:30 a.m • Authorized staff to borrow up to $5 million in long-term debt • Accepted Team Reports

Navigating a Momentous Shift in Energy Policy Michigan’s New Clean Energy Laws Among Most Ambitious in the Country ichigan’s energy future is undergoing a significant transformation with the recent signing of a comprehensive set of bills by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The bills passed swiftly on party lines, with House and Senate Democrats comprising nearly all the support for the package of bills.


Collaborating closely with the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA), PIE&G will delve into an in-depth analysis of these newly enacted laws in the months ahead. Below is a brief overview focusing on two key bills that hold substantial implications for Michigan’s electric cooperatives.

100% Clean Energy by 2040 Michigan’s new 100% clean energy by 2040 target stands among the most ambitious in the country. It will require all state electric utilities to employ a portfolio of 100% carbonfree resources by 2040, surpassing the rigor of California’s clean energy laws. Clean energy is largely defined as wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear. This legislation mandates utilities to procure 50% of their energy from renewables by 2030, escalating to 60% by 2035—a substantial leap considering the Great Lakes State currently stands at 16%. Starting in 2035, the renewable portfolio standard transitions to a clean energy standard, requiring all utilities to obtain 100% of their energy from non-carbon-emitting sources by 2040.

This fall, Wolverine Power Cooperative made a longterm commitment on behalf of its cooperative members to buy power from the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant upon its restart. In the legislation, lawmakers recognize the Palisades Plant as a vital reliability asset, allowing its output to count toward both renewable and clean energy targets. This is beneficial for Michigan Electric Cooperative members and underscores the significance of the Palisades Power Purchase Agreement. Additionally, Michigan’s electric cooperatives, as a group, already power members with over 50% carbon-free energy, placing us in a better position than many to meet the carbon-free requirement. Nevertheless, the bill overall is still a “big lift” for Michigan. Utility and business community concerns remain regarding the pace of decarbonization and its impact on electric reliability and affordability. While Michigan’s electric cooperatives support investments in clean energy, we must also consider the operational realities. Constructing large-scale projects demands considerable time and financial resources, as well as overcoming time-consuming regulatory hurdles, which makes the proposed timeline a challenge for the majority of the state’s electric utilities. Additionally, the challenge of land acquisition looms, with an estimated need for approximately 200,000+ additional acres for wind and solar power generation to achieve the renewable energy targets in the legislation.

Energy Waste Reduction Requirement for Electric Co-ops This bill mandates that electric co-op boards approve Energy Waste Reduction plans and programs. Co-ops are now obligated under statute to submit a formalized waste reduction plan to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) every four years. While this represents a more structured process compared to current cooperative practices, co-ops were able to successfully achieve the authority for their local boards to oversee these programs.

Notice to Members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op Special Member Regulation Meeting set for Feb. 27 at 9:30 a.m. at the cooperative’s Onaway office. The board of directors will consider changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its special meeting on Feb. 27, 2024, to be held at 3149 Main Street, Onaway, Michigan. The meeting will start at 9:30 a.m. and is open to all members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op. The session will begin with an opportunity for members to provide direct input to the board of directors. Members are asked to call the cooperative one week prior to the meeting if they wish to attend. Time constraints on each member’s comments will be at the discretion of the board chairman, but members are asked to keep comments to less than five minutes. The following items will be discussed: 1. Reconciliation of the 2023 Power Supply Cost Recovery collections. 2. Consideration of adjustments to Electric Rates. Notices of changes or additions to the cooperative’s rates or service rules shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by first-class mail or by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date. Participation: Any interested member may attend, and, to participate, should contact Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op at 800-423-6634 a week in advance. Comments may also be made before the meeting date by calling CEO Thomas Sobeck at 800-423-6634, or by email at tsobeck@pieg.com.



The Thrill Of The Chill Ice Fishing In Michigan By Yvette Pecha

t’s February in Michigan, and the deep freeze is here. Some people will complain, some will seek respite in warmer regions, and some, like Tim Cwalinski, with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, will embrace this opportunity bestowed upon us by Mother Nature. Cwalinski, fisheries unit supervisor for the Northern Lake Huron Management Unit based in Gaylord, Michigan, enjoys fishing and is grateful to have a sporting activity he can take part in year-round. “Ice fishing gives us an additional recreation in the winter,” he said. “It’s a value we have in coldweather states, and we should use it to our advantage.”


“Hard-water fishing” is not just another fishing trip—it’s a completely unique experience. Aside from the level of solitude you likely wouldn’t find in other seasons, the lack of bugs, and different setups with different equipment give people a prospect they may not have the rest of the year. “Not everybody can afford a 20-, 40-, or 50-thousand-dollar boat,” Cwalinski said. Anglers who were previously relegated to fishing on the shoreline can now get to the middle of the lake simply by walking, snowmobiling, or driving out. Another perk—according to many anglers—is that ice fishing produces some of the



best-tasting fish. “I think there’s some truth to that,” Cwalinski said. “Some species that live in lake vegetation, like crappie and bass, taste a little like their environment in the summer, but not in the winter.” One unfortunate part of ice fishing is that it’s highly dependent on weather. If Michigan experiences a mild winter, ice conditions will be poor. Cwalinski says Saginaw Bay is a popular destination when conditions allow because there’s an abundance of walleye and perch in the bay. But Cwalinski notes that recent winters haven’t been particularly cold, and people have wound up traveling to places with cooler temperatures. “Some people eagerly anticipate hard-water fishing, so downstate people will drive north and follow the good ice,” he said. Cwalinski lives in Gaylord (where he receives service from GLE) and says he generally fishes in lakes close to home, which are inhabited by plenty of trout. He said they’re also full of panfish, which he is partial to. Panfish, thusly called because they fit in a campfire-style pan, are classified by fish types such as blue gill, pumpkinseed, crappie, and yellow perch. Cwalinski says it’s better for everyone if there’s cold weather statewide because

it spreads out where people fish and doesn’t deplete the northern bodies of water. But no matter the temperatures in the lower part of the state, Gaylord and other upstate communities enjoy a financial boon in the ice-fishing season. “If you come up from downstate to fish, you’re spending money on bait, you’re buying gas and food, you might eat in a restaurant or stay in a hotel—all of that money is getting pumped into local economies,” Cwalinski said. There are also numerous northern Michigan ice fishing festivals and tournaments that serve as valued community development opportunities. Before you head anywhere for ice fishing, it’s important to ensure conditions are right for it. “You have to consider the safety measures,” Cwalinski said. “Go to websites and find out what ice is good. In general, three inches is safe, but just because a certain spot is three inches doesn’t mean that’s the case throughout the body of water. Ask around and look for places where people are already out on the ice.” As for when to fish, well, we are currently in what Cwalinski calls the “winter doldrums of ice fishing”—

a time where fish go into a state of “torpor,” during which they generally aren’t feeding or moving much. “The thicker you are into the meat of winter—your Februarys, your early March—the harder it is to catch anything because they’re staying still and conserving energy,” he said. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go ice fishing this month, but you may fare better when the shorelines are starting to break up and the fish are more active. Regardless of when in the year you go out, the best times of day to fish are around sunrise and sunset. Give ice fishing a try and experience for yourself why it is such a timehonored tradition in our state. With more than 11,000 Michigan lakes waiting to be explored, you don’t have to be housebound just because it’s cold outside. “Many of our Michigan recreational anglers look forward to the ice-fishing season year-round,” Cwalinski said. Though he is not a diehard ice angler, Cwalinski said he does find himself anticipating it sometimes in the off-season. “I’ll be sitting in deer stands in the fall and thinking about the blue gill fillets I’m going to catch soon,” he said.

FREE FISHING WEEKEND If you want to experience ice angling but don’t have a fishing license, there are two weekends a year you can fish without one. The first is Feb. 17 and 18. In addition to license fees being waived, you won’t need a recreation passport for entry into state parks or boating access sites. The other free fishing weekend is June 8 and 9.



Make Your Next Family Vehicle Electric

rates. Plus, EVs lack conventional engines and have far fewer moving parts and fluids to change (no more oil changes!), so they typically require less maintenance than conventional vehicles.

mericans bought more electric vehicles (EVs) last year than ever before—U.S. EV sales went up 65% in 2022 compared to 2021 (Kelley Blue Book). There is an ever-growing number of reasons why drivers are making the switch from gas-powered to electric. Check out a few of those reasons below, and learn why you should consider an EV for your next car purchase.

Stable fuel costs

Financial incentives

EVs have no exhaust coming from a tailpipe. And with PIE&G’s increasing carbon-free and renewable energy portfolios, charging an EV is cleaner than ever!


PIE&G’s Energy Optimization program offers rebates for the purchase of a new or used EV, as well as for the purchase of an ENERGY STAR-certified Level 2 charger. Federal tax credits are available for additional savings— visit irs.gov for the most up-to-date information. ELECTRIC VEHICLES


New Electric Vehicle

Registration must match member’s service address. Plug-in hybrids not eligible.

Used Electric Vehicle


Registration must match member’s service address. Plug-in hybrids not eligible.


Level 2 Charging Station*


ENERGY STAR*-qualified Level 2 station.

Cheaper to operate

Charging an EV is cheaper than filling up an equivalent gasor diesel-powered car, especially with PIE&G’s competitive

Over the past 10 years, average gasoline prices in most of the United States have fluctuated from below $1.50 to more than $5 a gallon. In contrast, electricity prices are much more stable, helping to keep fuel costs predictable and easier to fit into your budget.

Environmentally friendly

No more gas stations

Why stand outside in the elements at a gas station when you can just plug in your EV at home?

Better performance

Electric motors are quieter, smoother, and zippier than gasoline-powered engines.

The latest tech

Many of today’s EVs offer the very latest in automotive technology, such as connected phone apps that allow you to check your charge status or set a perfect temperature before getting in your vehicle and in-vehicle voice control for features like recalculating navigation routes and adjusting the temperature. Find rebate details and more ways to save through PIE&G’s Energy Optimization program at pieg.com/eo.



Save time, energy, and money when you make your next car purchase an electric vehicle. Cheaper to operate Stable fuel costs Environmentally friendly No more gas stations Better performance The latest technology SAVE MORE WITH THESE AVAILABLE REBATES New EV $1,500 Used EV $750

VISIT: pieg.com/eo CALL: 877-296-4319

Level 2 Charging Station $600

Travel Around The World









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

Submit Your “Fishing” Photos By Feb. 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 February theme is Fishing. Photos can be submitted through Feb. 20 to be featured in our April 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 2024, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your January 2025 bill.


1. Beautiful Sicily. Tracey Minarik 2. S unset on Hanalei Bay Kauai, HI. Rebecca Hill 3. O ur family whale watching off the shores of Lahaina in February of this year prior to the devastating fire that destroyed the city. We love Maui and Lahaina. Zachary Zokoe 4. A well-known place...the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Long ago, I was able to walk all around in there. I tried to envision & to listen for voices back to 80AD. Amazing how they keep restoring it today. Amazing as to what went on there. Carol May 5. Iceland valley view. Jerry Pawlaczyk






6. M agical musical gondola ride. Connie Richardson 7. T he Duomo at Florence, Italy. Kelly Lohman. 8. A dinosaur having my mother-in-law for lunch at Dinosaur Gardens in Ossineke, Michigan, lol! Donald Wilton II 9. Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland. Robert Luebke 10. Chichén Itzá, the great Mayan city! Roslyn Zea 11. Off-duty sightseeing in RhinelandPalatinate, Germany. The 18th CSSB U.S. Army. Jessica Zweng 12. Cherry blossoms in D.C. Emilie Cline



MI CO-OP Recipes

BEST LAYER CAKES Recipes as delicious as they are decorative


Tom Long, Midwest Energy & Communications 4 1½ ½ 1 2 1 2 1½ 2 1 1 2 1

eggs cups granulated sugar cup vegetable, almond, or walnut oil cup applesauce cups flour teaspoon salt teaspoons cinnamon teaspoons baking soda teaspoons baking powder teaspoon vanilla (16-ounce) can crushed pineapple, including juice cups grated carrots cup chopped pecans, for the sides of the baked cake

Frosting: ¾ cup unsalted butter 12 ounces cream cheese, softened 4–4½ cups powdered sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, cream together the eggs, sugar, oil, and applesauce. In a medium bowl, add the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix together until well blended. Then transfer the flour mixture into the sugar mixture and stir until just blended. Fold in the vanilla, pineapple, and grated carrots. Spray the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the pans with wax paper cut to fit only in the bottom of the pans. Then add the cake batter evenly to both pans. Bake for 40–45 minutes, then set the cake aside to cool.

Recipe Contest

To make the frosting, blend the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla; blend until smooth. When the cake is cooled, add a layer of frosting to the top of one of the cakes, then place the remaining cake layer on top. Frost the cooled cake on top and around all edges, then press the chopped pecans around the sides of the cake. If desired, use food coloring to color a small amount of frosting green and orange, and use frosting tips and a piping bag to decorate the top with small, frosted carrots.

Win a $100 energy bill credit! Quiches & Savory Tarts due March 1; Tacos & Margaritas due April 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. 10 FEBRUARY 2024

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

RUBY’S CARAMEL APPLE CAKE Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy

For the Cake: 1 (15-ounce) box spice cake mix, plus ingredients called for on box For the Ganache: 1½ cups heavy cream 3 cups chocolate chips For the Caramel Buttercream: 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened 1 cup caramel, plus more for decoration and dipping 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 4 cups powdered sugar 2 teaspoons cinnamon 3 teaspoons heavy cream • pinch kosher salt For top of the cake: 3 apples, sliced ¹⁄ ³ cup chopped peanuts, preferably roasted Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 8- or 9-inch cake pans. Prepare cake batter according to package directions. Divide between pans and bake according to package directions. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan, then transfer to a

cooling rack to cool completely. To make the ganache, heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until bubbles begin to form around the edges. Place chocolate chips in a large heatproof bowl, then pour hot heavy cream on top. Let set for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly. To make the buttercream, use a hand mixer to beat the butter and caramel in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then gradually beat in powdered sugar and cinnamon. Add heavy cream and mix until smooth. To assemble the cake, place the bottom layer on your serving platter. Spread with buttercream and pour ganache over the buttercream. Place the second layer of the cake on top, then frost cake entirely with buttercream, letting the ganache drip over the edges. Pour some of the additional caramel over ganache for decoration, letting it drip over edges (for perfect drips, use a squeeze bottle). Dunk apples in remaining caramel, then place on top. Sprinkle chopped peanuts around the apples. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!

GWEN’S ITALIAN CREAM CAKE Victoria Hueter, Great Lakes Energy

½ cup butter ½ cup shortening (or skip shortening and use 1 cup butter if you prefer) 2 cups sugar 5 large eggs, yolks separated from whites 1 tablespoon vanilla 2 cups cake flour (all-purpose also works) 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup buttermilk 1 cup flaked coconut Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting: 1 cup chopped pecans + additional chopped pecans and pecan halves for garnishing cake, if desired 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened ½ cup butter, softened 1 tablespoon vanilla 1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, cream butter and shortening. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add

egg yolks one at a time. Add vanilla and beat until blended. In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended. Stir in coconut. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into batter. Pour into three greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake for 23–25 minutes, until toothpick test is clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pans, then remove and cool completely on racks. To make frosting, bake pecans in shallow pan at 350 F for 5–10 minutes or until toasted. When you can smell the pecans, they are done. Cool completely. Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium speed until blended, then beat at high speed until smooth. Stir in pecans. When the cake is cooled, between each cake layer and on top, frost with the Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting. Garnish with pecan halves and chopped pecans or pat additional coconut on the sides.



PIE&G Connect Celebrates Milestone with 3,000th Member Connection IE&G Connect, proudly backed by Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-op, is ringing in the new year with a remarkable achievement. We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve connected over 3,000 electric members to our high-speed fiber internet service, marking the successful completion of our second year of fiber construction.


Our mission has always been to bridge the digital divide in Northern Michigan, and this milestone showcases the progress we’ve made. We’re transforming how our communities function by providing reliable, lightning-fast internet to rural areas that were once underserved. PIE&G Connect has earned a strong reputation for delivering exceptional services and ensuring customer satisfaction. Tom Sobeck, CEO of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, expressed his gratitude, saying, “Reaching the 3,000-subscriber mark within two years of construction is a testament to the dedication of our entire team at Presque Isle. We thank our members for their continued trust as we connect more subscribers to fiber-fast internet.” To celebrate this achievement, we presented a small gift to our 3,000th PIE&G Connect members, Thomas Crook and Sharol Foster. Congratulations!

As we head into 2024, PIE&G Connect Phase 2, initiated in September 2023, is over 60% complete. We’ve laid down an impressive 1,100 miles of fiber, covering areas like Onaway, Canada Creek, Black Lake, Cheboygan, Hammond Bay, and more. Expansion plans include Millersburg, Hawks, and Hagensville, among others. High-speed internet’s impact is immeasurable, unlocking access to educational resources, telecommuting, telemedicine, and boundless possibilities. CEO Tom Sobeck emphasized, “PIE&G Connect’s steadfast network expansion has transformed these opportunities into reality for thousands of Presque Isle members.” Our entire fiber project, encompassing 3,220 miles of fiber within the communities served by the electric co-op, is expected to take approximately four years. Thank you for your continued support as we work toward a digitally connected future. PIE&G Connect is available for all electric members. For our fiber construction map and to learn more about signing up, visit piegconnect.com.

12 FEBRUARY 2024

Hoppe Family Receives Centennial Farm Recognition n 1921, Florian and Josephine Hoppe acquired an 80-acre farm in Alpena, Michigan, where they raised beef cattle and cultivated potatoes. In 1947, Florian passed the farm to his son, Eugene Hoppe, who faithfully carried on the family tradition.


Eugene married Leona Kasubowski in 1948, and together, they raised five children on the farm. Their endeavors included growing corn, wheat, oats, hay, and potatoes, raising beef cattle, and maintaining 10 dairy cows. The Hoppes dedicated themselves to the land until Eugene’s health no longer allowed him to continue farming. In 2022, Leona Hoppe sold the farm to her son, Ron Hoppe, and his wife, Jackie Hoppe. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the Hoppe family for receiving the prestigious Centennial Farm status. This

distinction recognizes farms that have remained within the same family for a century, celebrating their vital contributions to Michigan’s development.

Pictured (left to right): Jackie and Ron Hoppe (husband and wife), CEO Tom Sobeck, Director Kurt Krajniak, Director Sally Knopf, and Rosemary Rosenbrock. Seated in front is Leona Hoppe, mother to Ron and Rosemary.

The Centennial Farm Program began in 1948 with the State of Michigan’s Michigan Historical Commission and received support from various entities, including Detroit Edison Company, Consumers Power Company, farm groups, and local electric cooperatives like Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op.

To apply for the Centennial Farm Program, please contact Melissa VanSchoten, Executive Assistant, at (800) 423-6634, extension 1011, or via email at mvanschoten@pieg. com. You can also visit the Historical Society of Michigan’s website.

Communities First Fund Grant Recipients Thank you to our members for your contributions; they make a difference. Learn more about the Communities First Fund at pieg.com.

$2,000 was awarded to the McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation for the McDonald Adult Partial Hospitalization Program.

A $1,000 grant was awarded to the Rogers City Area Schools to purchase library books supporting the school’s reading program.

Photographed: Tom Sobeck, C.E.O., and Izabela Babinska, McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation Relations Officer.



Michigan Tech’s Broomball Craze By Emily Haines Lloyd

Wait. Duct tape? Statistics are a part of most athletics. But there’s nothing average about the stats coming out of Michigan Tech’s intramural sport of choice—broomball.

3 rinks. 224 games. 2,000 student-athletes. 404,235 linear feet of duct tape each year.

14 FEBRUARY 2024

Let us explain. The Essence of Broomball: Duct Tape and Bristles The name “broomball” is derived from the unique construction of the brooms used in the game. While contemporary brooms are now manufactured, original enthusiasts would insist brooms should have straw bristles with duct tape wrapping all but a few inches at the end. These brooms, akin to hockey sticks, are used to propel a small round ball into the opponent’s goal. Played both indoors and outdoors on an ice rink, broomball features two teams of six players each, with a goaltender and five field players. Unlike traditional ice hockey, players do not wear ice skates, opting instead for rubber-soled shoes, typically their everyday sneakers.

Broomball on a Budget Despite the university’s reputation for impressive math and engineering programs, the less serious endeavor of broomball has become a significant part of campus life, involving over a quarter of the student body each season. Wyatt Helzer, a computer science and ethics major and the current chairperson of broomball at Michigan Tech, highlights the sport’s accessibility as a key factor in its popularity. “Not only is it relatively easy to learn,” said Helzer. “But it’s affordable too. I mean, a broom, some duct tape, and 35 bucks lets you play all season.” Helzer encourages cash-strapped college students to work a few shifts at the rinks to cover their entry fees, making broomball an accessible and inclusive activity for students.

Evolution of Rules and Broomball Culture When broomball first hit Michigan Tech in the 1950s, there were only two rules: the first addressing how many inches of broom bristles needed to show below your tape and the second being that brooms couldn’t be used as a bat against other players. For a university nestled in the harsh weather of the Upper Peninsula, these seem like fairly reasonable rules for the hearty individuals who call Michigan Tech home. Over the years, broomball has evolved into its own subculture at the university, attracting fans for life. Now, three outdoor rinks are situated in the center of campus, making it nearly impossible for the student body to avoid its charms.

Nerds on Ice David Wingard, a 2008 MTU alumnus working in research and development, returns annually for the Alumni Tournament during Winter Carnival, which showcases broomball’s enduring allure. “Tech is filled with a bunch of nerds,” Wingard jokes. “But that’s the thing about broomball— you don’t have to be a serious athlete, you just have to be up for some fun.” As the sound of brooms hitting balls echoes through the icy rinks of Michigan Tech, it resonates with the laughter, friendships, and memories that make broomball an integral part of the Tech experience. Broomball is a reflection of the Upper Peninsula and Michigan Tech itself— resilient, innovative, and unapologetically unique.



Best of Michigan Country Lines Cookbook PIE&G Members Featured

f you purchase a copy of the new Best Of Michigan Country Lines Cookbook (released in December 2023), you just might recognize some familiar cooks featured in the publication. We proudly announce that nine PIE&G members were selected to include their signature recipes in the prestigious release, highlighting favorite meals from a decade of Country Lines entries. Congratulations to these top-notch cooks and/or bakers from within the PIE&G service territory for their inclusion in the book:


Bethany Cumper: Pineapple Papaya Salsa Shannon Libich: BLT Bites Pamela Blamer: Banana Chocolate Chip Bread Rebecca Cronk: Apple Cheesecake Tonya Langlois: Nana’s Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie Tanya Blackmer: Hawaiian Sweet & Sour Meatballs Katherine Howell: Cashewed Sweet Potatoes and Peaches Sharron Fromius: Baked Mustard Potato Wedges Jennie Lewandowski: Taco Soup Chili

16 FEBRUARY 2024

Michigan Country Lines, a nonprofit, is committed to giving back. Proceeds from cookbook sales will support two Michigan charities: 1. Feeding America local food banks – Ensuring food security for those in need. 2. Cooperative Family Fund – Providing vital support to children of cooperative employees who’ve lost a parent while employed.

Order for your Valentine! Scan the QR code to embark on your culinary journey. Please allow 7–10 days for shipping.

How Extreme Winter Weather Impacts Reliability By Maura Giles

hen outdoor temperatures drop, our electricity use increases. That’s because we’re doing more activities inside and our heating systems are running longer and more often to counteract colder outdoor temperatures. Factor in that we all tend to use electricity at the same times—in the morning and early evenings—and that equals a lot of strain on our electric grid.


At PIE&G, we collaborate closely with our local generation and transmission cooperative, Wolverine, in resource and infrastructure planning. This ensures that when you flip a switch, the power you need is readily available. However, it’s crucial to remember that the electric grid extends far beyond your local co-op and Wolverine.

To help keep the heat on for you, your family, and neighbors, here are a few things you can do to relieve pressure on the grid (and save a little money along the way): • Select the lowest comfortable thermostat setting and turn it down several degrees whenever possible. Your heating system must run longer to make up the difference between the thermostat temp and the outdoor temp. – Pro tip: Seal air leaks around windows and exterior doors with caulk and weather stripping. Air leaks and drafts force your heating system to work harder than necessary. • Stagger your use of major appliances such as dishwashers, ovens, and dryers. – Pro tip: Start the dishwasher before you go to bed, and use smaller countertop appliances like slow cookers and air fryers to save energy. • Ensure that your heating system is optimized for efficiency with regular maintenance and proper insulation.

– Pro tip: Make sure your furnace filter isn’t clogged and dirty. In winter months, when even more Replace it as needed. electricity is being used simultaneously across the country, it is possible for electricity demand to exceed supply, especially if an unexpected event like a sudden snow BEST BETS FOR or ice storm or equipment UNPLUG malfunction occurs. If this WHEN happens, which is rare, the POSSIBLE grid operator for our region Turn off unnecessary of the country may call for lights and electronics Energy when you aren’t rolling power outages to consumption using them. relieve pressure on the grid, spikes during and PIE&G will inform you winter months as we spend more about the situation.

Winter Savings

PIE&G and Wolverine Power Cooperative take proactive steps to create a resilient portion of the grid and ensure electric reliability in extreme weather, including regular system maintenance, grid modernization efforts, and disaster response planning—but it takes everyone to keep the grid reliable.

time indoors and heating systems work overtime. You can help reduce demand and strain on the electric grid by conserving during peak energy times. Reducing energy use will also help lower your energy bills.

MAINTAIN HEATING EQUIPMENT Maintain your heating system by replacing dirty, clogged filters and scheduling an annual inspection for necessary maintenance.

• When possible, use cold water to reduce water heating costs. – Pro tip: Setting your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees can help you save energy and reduce mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes. • Unplug devices when not in use to eliminate unnecessary energy use. Even when turned off, electronics in standby mode consume energy. – Pro tip: Plug devices into a power strip so you can turn them all off at once with the push of a button. As we face the challenges posed by winter weather, understanding its impact on energy demand is crucial for maintaining a reliable power supply. By adopting energy conservation practices during periods of extreme cold, not only can you save money on your electric bills, but you can also contribute to the resilience of the power grid, keeping our local community warm and connected. Maura Giles writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing nearly 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.

ELIMINATE DRAFTS AND AIR LEAKS Seal air leaks and drafts around windows and exterior doors.

USE APPLIANCES WHEN ENERGY DEMAND IS LOWER Run large appliances like clothes washers, dryers, and dishwashers early in the morning or before you go to bed.

LOWER THE THERMOSTAT Home heating accounts for a large portion of energy consumption. Adjust your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting (68 degrees or lower).


MI CO-OP Guest Column

Memories Of An Ice Fisherman

By Rick Fowler, a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member

1958…the earliest memories of being on the ice would probably spark the flames of many of us who had dads, granddads, uncles, etc., who led us on our first journeys onto the hard water. I was 6 when my dad and grandfather included me in their plans, which involved spearing sturgeon from their fishing shanty on Mullett Lake. My grandparents lived in Indian River, Michigan, and since the lake was only a couple of miles away, we had ample time, a place to get to quickly if we needed to warm up (meaning me), and we could get home and eat. My dad and grandfather had speared a sturgeon before and loved to talk about their experiences to anyone who would listen. This morning had been slow, and we had seen nothing swimming by in the clearcut hole of the shanty. Dad and Grandpa decided to visit another shack nearby to talk to them, no doubt about how they had speared their sturgeons, and it had taken at least 20 minutes to land the monsters (every year, the pounds, length, and battle times seemed to get longer). While they were gone, they instructed me to watch for any fish that swam by and to holler if it was really big. Now, I had never seen a sturgeon before and therefore could not envision how massive they were. Within minutes of their departure, I got down on my hands and knees to get a clearer picture of the world below me. At that exact moment, the dinosaur fish decided to make his presence known and swam by the hole without a care in the world.



A decade of award-winning recipes from Michigan Country Lines.

Little did that fish know that up above, a 6-year-old kid screamed at the top of his lungs, busted down the thinskinned door to escape the monster, and ran to his father. They never let me forget that moment!

Rick taught high school English in Boyne City for 34 years. For the past 25 years, he has been an outdoor freelance writer.

Order now! Guest Column

Scan the QR code to embark on your culinary journey.

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

Please allow 7–10 days for shipping.

Win $200 for stories published!

18 FEBRUARY 2024






$2,000 REBATE & 30% TAX CREDIT

HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK? Well-Connect is a hybrid ground-source heat pump that works with your existing furnace, it does not replace it. Similar to how a hybrid vehicle greatly reduces the need for gas, doubling the fuel efficiency, a Well-Connect significantly reduces the amount of propane, fuel oil or wood need to heat a home. This hybrid approach saves a homeowner 50% to 75% on heating costs. Heating with Well-Connect is like paying less than 70 cents per gallon of propane!

70° AIR


95° AIR


Hybrid Geothermal





Geothermal Made Affordable

833-436-9355 wellconnectgeo.com








Energy-Saving Tips




inactive devices if you are not using them

off the lights after using them

full loads of laundry


off ceiling fans when you leave a room



old devices before buying new ones

instead of baths

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.