COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative
2022 Director Election Update
HomeWorks Connect Phase 5 Buildout Begins Board Approves Electric Rate Increase
Celebrating 30 Years Of The Country’s Oldest
ICE CLIMBING FESTIVAL
WATERFURNACE UNITS QUALIFY FOR A 26% FEDERAL TAX CREDIT THROUGH 2022
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January 2022 Vol. 42, No. 1
6 TAHQUAMENON FALLS: A WONDER OF THE MIDWEST The resounding grandeur of the state's largest waterfalls can be enjoyed year-round. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Asian-Inspired: Recreate your takeout favorites with these meals rich in ﬂavor and diversity.
Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives
14 CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF THE COUNTRY’S OLDEST ICE CLIMBING FESTIVAL The Michigan Ice Fest in Munising offers climbers breathtaking terrain and the chance to make lifelong friends.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr
GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird
RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd
18 GUEST COLUMN Winter's Daydream: GLE member's dazzling encounter with a deer was only a dream. Or was it?
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: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.
Have you ever seen Tahquamenon Falls at night? @dougjulian (Doug Julian)
MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community
RECIPE CONTEST Win a $50 bill credit!
Up Next: Spice It Up, due Feb. 1 On The Grill, due March 1 Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to email@example.com.
GUEST COLUMN Win $150 for stories published!
Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/ community.
MYSTERY PHOTO Win a $50 bill credit!
Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
What Can We Do To Address Michigan’s Potential Electric Capacity Shortfalls?
homeworks.org /homeworks.org firstname.lastname@example.org Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday
Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395
Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls) Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740
HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
District 1 — John Lord, Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 • email@example.com
District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 • firstname.lastname@example.org District 3 — Luke Pohl, Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 • email@example.com District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 • firstname.lastname@example.org District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 • email@example.com
District 6 — Ed Oplinger, Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 • firstname.lastname@example.org District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 • email@example.com Editor: C harly Markwart, CCC
By Chris O’Neill, CEO
ere at HomeWorks, we’re extremely proud of the fact that our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, is Michigan’s leader in new renewable energy, currently providing us with power that is 60% carbonfree. Renewables are the future of the energy industry, and we’re pleased to be in on the leading edge of that movement. However, the current reality is that renewable resources and even battery storage technologies haven’t advanced enough to handle the type of unique weather events native to a Michigan summer or winter. Considering this, HomeWorks has and will continue to advocate for energy policy that is focused on a balanced transition which maintains the hallmarks of both reliability and affordability. When coal plants and other traditional sources of baseload generation are retired before the State of Michigan has developed adequate alternate resources to carry us through an extreme weather event, it can help to create a potential electric capacity shortfall. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the organization responsible for operating the power grid in Michigan and 14 other states across the Midwest, has sent multiple warnings over the last two years that it is facing capacity shortages. The perfect storm of high demand and diminished baseload generation during some of Michigan’s coldest months leaves the state’s residents unnecessarily exposed to the increasing likelihood of a scenario not unlike the results of the 2021 Texas power crisis. Michigan is already capacity constrained, so when you add in the fact that investor-owned utilities are currently proposing to accelerate the retirement of viable energy sources in order to meet emissions standards (such as the Paris Climate Accord), before ensuring that we have suitable replacement resources in place to meet demand during an event such as a polar vortex, you get more of the very real capacity concerns that MISO is communicating now. So what can we do? Energy resource adequacy and the electric grid can seem like nebulous topics out of our control, but there are three simple steps HomeWorks members can take today to help backfill the state’s potential energy shortage. • Strive to make your home more energy efficient. You can start by taking a few minutes to fill out the energy use on our website. This will help you learn where you might have energy inefficiencies in your home and provide you with simple tips to improve those areas. • Check out our renewable energy options. HomeWorks offers three renewable energy options that allow members to generate energy to power their own home or provide back onto the electric grid, including community solar, distributed renewable energy generation, and buy-all/sell-all. Learn more at HomeWorks.org or by calling us at 800-562-8232. • Engage your legislators. It is important that we let the Michigan Public Service Commission and our local legislators know that while we are all for renewables, we need to execute a responsible transition to renewable energy that ensures resource adequacy during potential extreme weather events. That is the type of energy policy that your Co-op will continue to fight for to ensure reliability for the benefit of our members.
4 JANUARY 2022
PHASE 5 IS HERE!
It’s time to begin Phase 5 of HomeWorks Connect: the final planned portion of our highspeed fiber internet network, which will be built out in 2022! If you live in any of the zones marked in red on the map below, we plan to complete the mainline network needed to connect your home with HomeWorks Connect within the next year. After the buildout is complete, we’ll continue connecting homes across our network into 2023 and beyond.
We’re already engineering the zones that make up Phase 5, and will soon build the mainline fiber network through them. This means members in these areas will be seeing our trucks around often. Because we can’t begin connecting all of the Phase 5 zones at once, you’ll want to watch your mailbox for postcards alerting you about our activity in your area. You can also receive email updates on our progress simply by pre-registering at Join.HomeWorksConnect.org. This will also allow you to receive a service agreement via email as soon as they are made available in your area. We don’t want you to miss out on this great opportunity, so when it’s time to connect your home, you’ll be notified that contracts are available in your neighborhood via mail, social media, and email. Be sure to sign up now and be ready to take advantage of our free installation offer during our initial buildout in your area!
If you haven’t yet, pre-register today at
Join.HomeWorksConnect.org to see which zone your home is in!
Become A Connector Today!
To pre-register, visit Join.HomeWorksConnect.org or call 800-668-8413!
PACKAGES START AT
This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.
idden in the Upper Peninsula happens to be the state’s largest waterfall and the second-largest east of the Mississippi River (with Niagara Falls being number one)—Tahquamenon Falls. With 50,000 gallons of water cascading over the falls, it’s no wonder it hosts over 600,000 visitors annually.
TAHQUAMENON FALLS A Wonder Of The Midwest By Emily Haines Lloyd
For those who love a tongue-twister—it’s pronounced “Taa·kwuh·meh·nuhn,” and it was made famous in the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem The Song of Hiawatha. According to Native American lore, the origin of the name is attributed to the water’s amber color, resulting from tannic acid from the cedar and hemlock swamps that feed the river. Aside from the astonishing name, the falls themselves offer mouth-dropping beauty and splendor. Nestled in Tahquamenon Falls State Park amid 50,000 acres covering more than 13 miles, the Upper and Lower Falls of Tahquamenon offer an otherworldly view. And this might be the perfect time to enjoy that view, as the park is not nearly as crowded in the winter as it is in the other seasons. Winter activities at the park include camping (the campsites are open year-round), cross-country skiing, snowshoeing,
lantern-lit trail walks hosted by the park staff, and of course, visiting the falls, which also run year-round. No matter what time of year you go, though, your visit will leave a lasting impression. “When you’re approaching the falls, you ﬁrst hear the sound—the water ﬂowing and falling,” said Theresa Neal, park interpreter at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. “Once you approach them, you’re then struck by that unique amber color. It’s so unusual and visually striking. You never forget it.” Tahquamenon Falls is divided into two sections. The Upper Falls are surrounded by a quarter-mile trail and just a 94-step climb to the viewing platform. There, you can get a look at that 50-foot drop and feel the spray on your face. Those looking for an additional challenge can snowshoe off trail for a snowy adventure. The Lower Falls are four miles east of the Upper Falls and offer great views and photo ops. The Lower Falls are a one-mile walk from the parking area that takes you through the forest and lands you on the multiple viewing platforms for more spectacular sights. You can also rent rowboats at the concession station to access the island during the summer only.
While the monumental views bring in visitors, Neal thinks there’s something else that draws folks out to the wild. “I see generations of families come out to the falls year after year,” said Neal. “The world can move so fast, but when you’re out here, there’s time to breathe and just be with one another. Making memories is the ultimate way to slow things down.”
“Obviously, the falls are the big draw,” said Neal. “But there’s so much to do and explore. Nine miles of marked snowshoe trails, a groomed cross-country ski trail, lots of photo opportunities, and even a brewery.”
TAHQUAMENON PRO TIPS
When you’re looking at sharing this natural wonder with over half a million people a year, it’s good to look at the best time to visit.
DO NOT DISTURB: Put your phone in airplane mode—service can be sketchy, so save your battery for photos and videos
“I’m always reminding people we’re open sunrise to sunset,” said Neal. “So, I really recommend coming early or later in the day to avoid crowds. And not to be afraid to visit off-season. From December to April, it’s almost like having the park to yourself.”
CASH IS KING: With cell service being dicey, it’s easier for park staff to handle your cash
VISITING IN WARMER MONTHS?: Wear light colored clothing (most insects are attracted to dark colors). And always be sure to wear comfortable, sturdy footwear BUG OFF: If you’re traveling in June and July, it’s a good idea to scare off the mosquitoes, horse ﬂies, and deer ﬂies with bug spray. Maybe splurge and buy a mosquito head net for just a couple of dollars WATER, WATER, WATER: Bring your reusable water bottle. There are plenty of places to ﬁll up MAP UP: Again, with sketchy cell service, make sure you have a paper map, and don’t be afraid to chat up the park rangers for advice and directions /TQFalls
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Notice To Members Of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Oct. 25, 2021, Open Member Meeting Results At a Special Open Meeting held Oct. 25, 2021, the HomeWorks TriCounty Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, in accordance with P.A. 167 and P.A. 95, took the following action: Adopted a revised Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) rate of $.00525 per kWh for all rate classes that are subject to the PSCR, by tariff, to take effect in February 2022. The PSCR rate is a pass-through cost from the Co-op’s power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative. For specific details of this rate adjustment or any HomeWorks tariffs or fees, please call us at 800-562-8232 or visit HomeWorks.org.
Notice To Members Of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Nov. 22, 2021, Open Member Meeting Results At a Special Open Meeting held Nov. 22, 2021, the HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, in accordance with P.A. 167 and P.A. 95, took the following action: Revised the Cooperative’s electric rates to meet current and future financial needs. The revised electric rates will take effect in February 2022. For specific details of this rate adjustment or any HomeWorks tariffs or fees, please call us at 800-562-8232 or visit HomeWorks.org.
Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative A Special Open Member Meeting is set for Jan. 17, 9 a.m., at the Cooperative’s Portland office* The board of directors will consider the item(s) listed below at its meeting on Jan. 17, 2022, to be held at the Cooperative office at 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, Michigan. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and is open to all HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative members. The session will begin with an opportunity for members to provide direct input to the board of directors without filing a formal request under the Cooperative policy. Interested members are asked to come to the lobby by 9 a.m. and request to speak to the board; staff will direct members to the meeting room. Time constraints on each member’s comments will be at the discretion of the board president, but members are asked to keep comments to less than five minutes. The following item(s) will be discussed and considered: 1. Entering into a partnership with Slipstream to develop a new Energy Optimization (EO) program to continue offering EO rebates to HomeWorks members. Notice 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 publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date. Participation: Any interested member may attend and participate in the meeting. The location of the board meeting site is accessible, including accessible parking. Persons needing any accommodation to participate should contact HomeWorks TriCounty Electric at 800-562-8232 at least a week in advance of the meeting to request mobility, visual, hearing, or other assistance. Comments may also be made prior to the meeting date by calling CEO Chris O’Neill at 517-647-1284 or contacting him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Notice of the board meeting shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines. *Note: At print time, the Jan. 17 board meeting is scheduled to take place in person at the Co-op’s Portland office. However, dependent on current safety protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be determined that the meeting needs to be held remotely instead (in which case, remote access to the meeting would be provided to any member who wished to attend). Any interested member is asked to contact the Co-op at 800-562-8232 at least one week prior to the meeting to confirm the meeting location.
8 JANUARY 2022
Enter to win a
energy bill credit!
Fire & Ice 1./2. Susie Koenigsknecht of St. Johns says, “During a snowmobile trip to the UP in February of 2020, my husband Luke’s snowmobile cut down to one cylinder, and the next thing we knew, it was on fire! In almost 50 years of snowmobiling, nothing like that had ever happened to us. Then, in January 2021, our son, Adam, had a snowmobile catch on fire on Houghton Lake. It was just amazing that one year apart, father and son each had snowmobiles start on fire and burn down.” 3. Brenda Schneider of Fowler says, “This is a picture of a bonfire next to icy Sapphire Lake in Lake City on a beautiful winter evening with a full moon in the sky. It was my 60th birthday.” 4. Laura Moore of Stanwood captured this “Fire & Ice” photo at Canadian Lakes. 5. Patrick Wheeler of Coral submitted this photo, titled “Ice and Flame”, taken by 11-year-old Wendy Wheeler. 6. Doug Schlappi of Sunfield captured this image of the South Haven lighthouse in the middle of winter.
Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics and Deadlines Pet Showcase, due Jan. 17 (March 2022 issue) Plants and Flowers, due Feb. 17 (April issue) Antique Rides, due March 17 (May issue) Go to HomeWorks.org, select the Energy tab, then choose Member Services>Country Lines to submit your photos and see all of the 2022 Snap Shot themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.
Submit Your Photos! Members whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2022 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
MI CO-OP Recipes
Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKamey
Skip the takeout with recipes you can make at home.
SPICED CAULIFLOWER Margie Guyot, Great Lakes Energy
1 2–4 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 • 2 1
medium onion, chopped garlic cloves, chopped jalapeño, seeded and chopped tablespoon turmeric tablespoons coconut or sunﬂower oil cup water 14-ounce can coconut milk cauliﬂower head, cut into ﬂorets teaspoon sugar salt, to taste medium tomatoes, chopped cup cooked, cubed sweet potatoes, optional • roasted cashews, optional
RECIPE CONTEST Win a
energy bill credit!
10 JANUARY 2022
Spice It Up due Feb. 1 • On The Grill due March 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 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 email@example.com.
Process the onion, garlic, jalapeño, and turmeric in food processor until it forms into a paste. Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions no longer smell raw. Do not brown. Add the water, coconut milk, and cauliﬂower ﬂorets; stir to coat. Bring to a medium boil and simmer for about 5–6 minutes. Stir in sugar and salt to taste. Stir in the chopped tomato and simmer 2–3 minutes more, stirring. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve. Variation: Stir in cooked, cubed sweet potato and sprinkle with roasted cashews. Dish will thicken as it sits. Serves 4. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos
ORIENTAL SUPERFOOD SALAD Connie Turner, Great Lakes Energy
1 bunch lacinato kale, washed, ribs and stems removed, and cut into bite-size pieces 1 pound shelled edamame beans (from freezer section) 1 cup “matchstick” carrots 1 small raw beet, cut into matchsticks (can also save beet leaves to add with the kale) 1 cup shredded green cabbage (or mix of red/green) 1 cup fresh blueberries 1 cup pomegranate kernels (from one pomegranate) 1 cup dried cranberries (or Craisins) 1 cup roasted cashew pieces (or walnuts/pecans)
½ ½ 1 ½ • • 1 1
cup roasted sunﬂower seeds cup sliced or chopped red onions cup sliced fresh strawberries pound barely steamed or raw asparagus tangerine slices, optional apple slices, optional cup Marzetta Simply Dressed Strawberry-Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (or favorite dressing) container cherry or grape tomatoes
Mix all ingredients together (except dressing). Add the dressing and tomatoes just before serving, and toss well. This salad keeps well for several days in a tight container in the refrigerator.
JAPANESE CHICKEN Rebecca Lambright, Great Lakes Energy
EGG ROLL BOWL
Connie Hernandez, Great Lakes Energy 8 ounces ground pork (ground turkey or chicken also works) 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided ½ small onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced ½ teaspoon grated ginger (or 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger) 2½ cups ﬁnely sliced cabbage 2 cups ﬁnely sliced baby bok choy ½ cup shredded carrots 2½ ounces sliced shiitake (or other) mushrooms ½ tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
• sliced scallion or green onion, for garnish, optional • fried wonton strips, for garnish, optional Place a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the pork and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it browns, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft, 2–3 minutes. Add the cabbage, bok choy, carrots, and mushrooms. Pour in remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage and bok choy are wilted but still crunchy, 3–4 minutes. Garnish with scallions/green onions and wonton strips, and serve hot.
2 pounds uncooked chicken, sliced • ﬂour for coating • garlic salt • seasoned salt • paprika 1 cup sugar ½ cup vinegar 4 tablespoons soy sauce ½ cup water ½ teaspoon salt Preheat oven to 350 F. Dip chicken in ﬂour and fry. While chicken is frying, sprinkle with garlic salt, seasoned salt, and paprika. In a saucepan, mix together the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, water, and salt. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Place fried chicken in baking dish and pour warm sauce over it. Bake 1½ to 2 hours. Serve over rice or noodles. After chicken is done, pour sauce into cooked rice. Tasty!
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
2022 HomeWorks Board Elections Districts 1, 5, And 7 To Hold Director Elections This Year Election Timeline Feb. 4 Nominating Committee submits candidate names to Co-op Feb. 15 Candidate credentials reviewed, names posted at Co-op John Lord—District 1
Corinna Batora—District 5
Shirley Sprague—District 7
omeWorks members in districts 1, 5, and 7 will carry out one of the most important duties of a cooperative’s membership this year when they elect a director to represent them on the Co-op board. Current directors John Lord of Leslie (District 1), Corinna Batora of Elsie (District 5), and Shirley Sprague of Barryton (District 7) have announced they will seek re-election in their respective districts. Other members in districts 1, 5, and 7 who are interested in running for the position should contact their district’s nominating committee by Feb. 4. Candidates may also be nominated via a petition signed by at least 25 members within their district. Petitions must be turned in to the nominating committee by Feb. 21. Each of the three incumbent directors was first elected to the board in May 2016. District 1 includes members in Eaton, Ingham, and Jackson counties. District 5 includes members in Gratiot and Saginaw counties, as well as Bingham, Duplain, and Greenbush townships in Clinton County, and Bloomer, Crystal, and Evergreen townships in Montcalm County. District 7 is comprised of members in Mecosta and Osceola counties. The nominating committee in each district consists of the district’s officers (listed on this page), elected by members at the district meeting held in the previous May. Each committee is required by the Co-op’s bylaws to nominate at least one candidate on or before Feb. 4. Names of nominees will be posted at the Cooperative’s offices and at HomeWorks.org by Feb. 28.
Interested In Seeking A Board Seat? The job of a HomeWorks board member is to help set policies and make decisions that guide the direction of the Cooperative, while effectively representing the members of his or her district. Directors are expected to attend regular monthly and other special meetings of the board or committees of the board, along with relevant state and national association meetings and director 12 JANUARY 2022
Nominations by petition (25 signatures) due at Co-op
Final candidate list posted at Co-op
Early April Ballots mailed in Michigan Country Lines magazine to members in election districts May
embers may vote instead at district meeting, if M meetings are held in person (dates to be announced)
District Nominating Committees District 1: Eaton, Ingham, and Jackson counties Patricia Zimmerman, Chair 1885 Flanders Rd., Charlotte MI 48813 517-543-6736 (Home) • email: firstname.lastname@example.org Miner Roth (Grand Ledge), Vice Chair Kelly Freeman (Vermontville), Secretary
District 5: Gratiot and Saginaw counties, plus townships in Clinton and Montcalm counties Nichole Klekotka, Chair 10650 E. Cotter Rd., Ashley, MI 48806 989-307-8982 (Cell) • email: email@example.com Bob Puralewski (St. Johns), Vice Chair Dan Herald (St. Johns), Secretary
District 7: Mecosta and Osceola counties Don Passolt, Chair 23586 Holiday Dr., Hersey, MI 49639 231-832-3950 (Home) • email: firstname.lastname@example.org Elaine Grace (Weidman), Vice Chair Connie Gibson (Evart), Secretary
training programs. They are also expected to study data and other information presented to the board in order to stay fully informed on matters affecting the Co-op. If you are a member of District 1, 5, or 7 and you are interested in running for a HomeWorks board seat this year, Article VII, Section 2 of the Cooperative’s bylaws (available at HomeWorks.org) states that you must be an individual member of the Co-op in good standing, at least 21 years old, residing in the district which you are to represent, and a U.S. citizen. To become or remain a director, the bylaws state, the candidate must have the capacity to enter into legally binding contracts; comply with standards
of conduct as laid out in the bylaws; and meet all reasonable conflict of interest qualifications found in Article VII, Section 3. Also, a candidate shall not have been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony or misdemeanor crime involving issues of moral character within the 10 years immediately prior to becoming a director. If you meet these qualifications and would like to be nominated for the District 1, 5, or 7 board seat, contact your district nominating committee, listed on this page, or call HomeWorks Tri-County Electric at 517-647-1211 to request a nominating petition.
Your Board In Action Meeting at Blanchard on Oct. 25, your board of directors: • At a special open member meeting, voted unanimously to adjust the Cooperative’s Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) factor from $(.00051) to $.00525, effective Feb. 1, 2022, in order to adequately cover projected 2022 power supply costs. • Reviewed and approved the 2022 capital and operating budget for Tri-Co Services, Inc.
• Received a 2021 capital spending update for the electric and fiber internet businesses. • Discussed rate design options for a potential electric rate increase proposed for implementation in 2022 in order to more adequately cover the cost of service. • Discussed and accepted Policy 211 – Whistleblower, as revised.
• Reviewed and approved the 2022 capital and operating budgets for Tri-County Electric Cooperative and the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business. • Approved the write-off of accounts receivable totaling $63,918 for the year ending Dec. 31, 2020. • Approved Wolverine Power Cooperative’s proposed membership in ACES, a nationwide energy management company. • Discussed and accepted Policy 504 – Economic Development, as revised.
• Learned there were 122 new members in October.
• Acknowledged the October safety report, listing employee training as well as minor public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.
• Learned there were 138 new members in September.
Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings
Meeting at Portland on Nov. 22, your board of directors:
The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Jan. 17 and Feb. 21 at Portland. However, at the time of this printing, some of our meetings are temporarily being conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554 in advance.
• Acknowledged the September safety report, listing employee training as well as minor public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.
• At a special open member meeting, voted unanimously to adjust the Cooperative’s electric rates to meet current and future financial needs.
People Fund Supports Local Causes With Over $10,500 In Grants Meeting remotely on Oct. 13, our People Fund board awarded six grants totaling $7,068.83, including: • $3,000 to The Voice of Clinton County’s Children in St. Johns, to assist families and individuals in need; • $1,568.83 to a Mecosta County family, to assist with medical bills;
• $1,000 to a Mecosta County family, to assist with utility expenses; and • $500 to a Montcalm County family, to assist with housing expenses.
How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant
• $1,500 to the Clinton County Senior Center in St. Johns, to support the food pantry; and
The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community.
Meeting in Portland on Nov. 22, the People Fund board awarded three grants totaling $3,500, including:
Write to 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund page at HomeWorks.org.
• $1,000 to Fremont Fire & Rescue in Winn, to purchase fire and rescue pagers.
• $2,000 to the Ionia Ministerial Association, to upgrade staff computers;
Note: Applications must be received by Feb. 8 for the February meeting and by March 22 for the March meeting.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13
Celebrating 30 Years Of The Country’s Oldest
ICE CLIMBING FESTIVAL
any people travel to gorgeous Munising, Michigan, in the state’s Upper Peninsula to experience the beauty of the infamous sandstone cliﬀs of Pictured Rocks oﬀ the shore of Lake Superior. Whether by boat or kayak, people bring their cameras and smartphones to snap a shot of the remarkable natural wonder.
Then there are those who travel to Munising, Michigan, to capture an experience in an entirely unexpected way. From Feb. 9–13, Michigan Ice Fest will be celebrating its belated 30th anniversary (due to COVID-19) with its weeklong ice climbing event that brings famed ice climbers as well as curious newcomers from all over the country and the world. Ice climbing may seem like something reserved for rugged mountaineers among arctic landscapes in faraway lands, but the Munising ice festival mixes awe-inspiring terrain with a tight-knit community feel that is nothing short of Pure Michigan. “For over 30 years, people have been coming to the festival,” said Bill Thompson, one of the organizers of Michigan Ice Fest. “And every year, there are people who walked away shocked that we have some of the best ice climbing in the lower 48. They come in wary and walk away family.”
By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Michigan Ice Fest
Michigan Ice Fest, which claims to be the oldest ice festival in the country, started with Mark Riesch, an ice climber out of Kalamazoo who returned from a festival in Canada and wanted to recreate something like it in Munising. Riesch passed out a homemade ﬂier inviting folks to join in and managed to wrangle up
8 8 8 Michigan Ice Fest is Feb. 9–13, 2022, Munising, Michigan 8 8 8
a whopping 20 or so people the ﬁrst year. Among them was Bill Thompson. As a new guard took over the event, it gained interest and grew. In 2019, the event drew over 1,600 climbers from seven different countries, and anyone who has attended Michigan Ice Fest will tell you there is something particularly magical about the Munising event. “Michigan might not seem like the obvious spot for ice climbing,” said Thompson. “But there’s nowhere else where you can climb 160 feet with open waves thundering below you that are biting at your feet. Exciting is an understatement.” This unique atmosphere has led to considerable interest from the climbing community. The event itself has grown over the years, now offering presentations and clinics led by world-class, professional climbers, book signings, and coffee talks in the mornings, as well as lots and lots of climbing. While the pros and hardcore climbers enjoy some of the ﬁnest ice climbing in the country,
the festival still puts a lot of focus on the novice climber, offering free gear and instruction as part of the price of admission. Not to mention an opportunity to watch and learn from some of the best ice climbers in the world. “It’s like if you went to a basketball clinic and Michael Jordan was there giving you tips,” said Thompson. “And then later, you see him around town and get to have a beer with him. That’s how casual and inclusive this event is.” The coziness of Munising seems in complete contrast to the adrenalineheavy activity that brings everyone to town, but the city offers that perfect setting for what Anderson describes as an annual family reunion.
climbers feel like they’re a part of the group from day one. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like going home.” While a mammoth ledge of ice might not seem like an obvious homecoming spot, Thompson assures those with even the slightest interest that the event aims to bring people in slowly. “It’s a chance to do something that not many people get to experience,” said Thompson. “As an ice climber, you’re deﬁnitely in a minority of folks in the world. But when you hear the axe bite in, and you kick into the ice with the sound of water running behind it—all I can say is you just can’t know how special it is until you try it.”
“It’s a tight community. When you come to the event, it’s like being with family,” said Thompson. “Our pro athletes have climbed all over the world, but feel something different and refreshing at our event. Our new
Visit michiganicefest.com for information on registration fees, event times, clinics, and more, as well as a list of available scholarships, grants, and contests. /MichiganIceFest
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Thanks in large part to our investment in the continual improvement of our electric system, your power was 99.97% reliable last year.
February Rate Increase Will Help Cover Rising Cost Of Service by Chris O’Neill, CEO If you read the November/December issue of Country Lines, you may have noticed that our board of directors was set to consider an electric rate increase in November. After careful review of extensive information, including data provided by Co-op management and the results of a third-party costof-service study conducted by the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, the board voted unanimously at a special open member meeting on Nov. 22 to enact a rate increase to help meet the current and future financial needs of your Cooperative. The rate increase will take effect in February. Our cost-of-service study indicated that this rate increase should be implemented into our fixed availability charge, which is how our board of directors ultimately decided to enact it. The amount of the rate adjustment will depend on a member’s rate class and how much it costs for us to serve that particular class; for residential members living in a single-family dwelling, the monthly availability charge will increase from $24.50 to $31.00. If you have lived on HomeWorks electric lines for long, you know that we are a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative that strives to keep our rates as stable and as low as possible for those we serve, only raising our rates when it is entirely necessary to sufficiently cover the cost of providing you with reliable electricity. The February electric distribution rate adjustment is being driven by the rising costs of maintaining a reliable electric system, from contractor and material costs to the expenses associated with hardening our system and keeping the rights-of-way around our lines clear of trees. In order to maintain equity and continue to qualify for attractive debt-financing offers that financially benefit the Co-op, while also continuing to provide the quality of service you have come 16 JANUARY 2022
What Is An Availability Charge? Our availability charge is the fixed portion of the HomeWorks electric bill, designed to cover the cost of maintaining a distribution system to serve you. Regardless of how much electricity you use, your Co-op has to spend the same amount of money on system expenses such as operation, maintenance, and replacement of equipment including poles, wires, and meters in order to ensure that power is available when you do go to turn your light switch on. These are the types of expenses that are covered by the availability charge, which helps to ensure that all members are paying their fair share to maintain the system that provides them with electricity.
to expect from us, it is necessary for us to increase our rates at this time to cover these rising costs. It is important to note that we are only increasing our rates enough to adequately cover our costs. Our cost-of-service study indicated that in order to reflect the true cost of serving a member household, our residential availability charge should be closer to $40 per month. Our board opted instead to increase the charge to just $31.00 per month in order to meet our financial objectives while still keeping rates as low as possible for our member-owners. Why Is The Increase Going Into The Availability Charge? Because the costs that are driving this rate increase are all related to the fixed costs of providing reliable service to you, our cost-of-service study indicated that the fairest way to
implement this electric distribution rate adjustment would be to place it into our availability charge, rather than into the kilowatt-hour (kWh) charge. Placing the increase into the fixed availability charge ensures that each HomeWorks member is sharing fairly in our cost of service, which is an important part of the co-op business model. No matter how much electricity your household uses on a monthly basis, the cost of maintaining the system that makes that power available to distribute to you when you need it remains the same. That is why our board voted to implement this rate increase into the fixed availability charge. We are a cooperative, and just as any profits we earn are allocated and shared amongst those we serve, our costs are set up to be shared fairly across our membership, as well. Unfortunately, this distribution rate adjustment is occurring at the same time that an increase to our Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) factor is taking effect. The PSCR is a cost that is passed through to our members from our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, and it is applied to your monthly kWh use. This rate is established annually, and it is not uncommon for PSCR factor adjustments to be made at this time of year in order to accurately reflect Wolverine’s projected power supply costs for the upcoming 12 months. At a special open member board meeting in October 2021, our board unanimously approved a PSCR increase from ($.00051) to $.00525 per kWh effective in February for all rate classes subject to the PSCR, in order to cover our projected power supply costs for 2022. This adjustment will affect members differently depending on their electric usage, but for the average residential member (using 825 kWh per month), the monthly PSCR charge will increase by $4.75. When you combine the PSCR increase with our distribution rate adjustment, the average HomeWorks residential member will see their monthly electric bill rise by $11.70, or 8.5%, in February. We realize that this is not an insignificant increase, but it is reflective of the rising costs of products and services
across the nation in the current economy, and it still keeps us below or right in line with the rates of electric utilities across the state. Our Cooperative was founded and still exists today entirely to serve the needs of our members, and we are very mindful of the need to maintain affordable electric service for you. Our management team and our board took the time to thoroughly review all options before determining that a rate adjustment was entirely necessary at this time in order to continue to provide you with superior service and reliability, while adequately covering our costs and maintaining our financial standards. It is noteworthy that, even with the increase to their bill in February, the average residential HomeWorks member will still be able to power their home for a day for less than the cost of a fast food meal. This shows that despite rising costs, our electricity remains a great value for those that we serve. As a HomeWorks member, you can be confident in the knowledge that your investment into your Co-op is paying off in a big way. Our electric distribution system is one of the very best in the state, providing you with power that was 99.97% reliable last year, and we continue to upgrade and improve it every day to serve you even better. Still, we understand that any increase to your monthly expenses can come as a frustration and a challenge. Please know that we are committed to keeping our costs and our rates as low as possible now and into the future. As a not-for-profit cooperative, our rates will always reflect only up to the true cost of providing you with reliable electricity, nothing more. You can also rely on the fact that, just as we have for the past 85 years, we will continue to work to make sure that your electricity will remain a great value for years to come. If you have any questions about our February rate adjustment, or if you are struggling to pay your electric bill, please feel free to give us a call at 800-562-8232. Please note that our full rate book is also available to download at HomeWorks.org.
How Will The Availability Charge Adjustment Affect My Bill? Rate Class
Current Avail. Charge
New Avail. Charge - Feb. 2022
Residential - Single Dwelling
$24.50 per month
$31.00 per month
Residential - Multiple Dwelling
$17.00 per month
$21.00 per month
Residential - Time Of Day (TOD)
$29.50 per month
$37.00 per month
General Service - Single Phase
$31.00 per month
$38.00 per month
General Service - Three Phase
$47.50 per month
$59.00 per month
General Service - TOD Single Phase
$29.00 per month
$36.00 per month
General Service - TOD Three Phase
$48.50 per month
$60.00 per month
Large Power Service
$78.50 per month
$98.00 per month
Large Power Service - TOD
$88.50 per month
$110.00 per month
Optional Irrigation TOD - Single Phase
$27.00 per month
$34.00 per month
Optional Irrigation TOD - Three Phase
$46.50 per month
$58.00 per month MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17
Winter's Daydream By Dody Bedford, Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member
t was a sunny cold day in January when I put on my cross-country skis to go for a jaunt. The temperature was a perfect 25 degrees, and the sun shone brightly. I glided along effortlessly, crisscrossing paths with the many deer that inhabit our ﬁelds. As many times as I have skied and as many deer tracks as I have seen, I have never seen a deer. I stopped to rest under the biggest white pine I’d ever seen. I had a weird sense that I was being watched. I turned back, looking across the clearing, and saw a wonderful surprise; 100 feet away stood the most beautiful doe. Her huge brown eyes and long black lashes entranced me. She stomped her feet and took ﬁve steps toward me. I was enthralled. I stood quietly, and she made her way toward me. She was not afraid and appeared as curious about me as I was about her. I stretched my hand out, and she took a sniff. As she became more comfortable, I moved to her side and stroked her neck. As she became more comfortable, she would playfully butt me with her head. After some time, she reached up and snatched my hat right off my head, then turned and ran a little way. She turned to face me, and I could swear she was teasing me to chase her. I set out toward her, and each time I came close, she would throw my hat in the air, let it drop, pick it up, and away she went. As I took a rest, she approached me now with no fear. I tipped my head low, and she placed the hat on my head, then I poured water in my hand, and she drank greedily. She ﬁnally headed into the woods at dusk. It was time for me to head home. It must have been only a daydream. I could only smile as I followed a perfect set of deer tracks all the way home.
energy bill credit!
Dody Bedford is a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member who enjoys the outdoors, gardening, and ﬁshing. She is a self-taught artist, who paints in oil, sketches, and plays piano and guitar. She likes to spend a portion of every day helping others and volunteering at Rising Hope Equestrian Center.
Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit.
Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by Jan. 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com/community. Nov./Dec. 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Angela Boysen, a Midwest Energy & Communications Cooperative member, who correctly identiﬁed the photo as Port Huron Blue Water Bridge. Photo courtesy of Kaushik Sur. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.
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Apply for HomeWorks’ 2022 grants and scholarships today at HomeWorks.org! For Teachers:
Grants of up to $2,000 to help local teachers provide S.T.E.A.M. education in their classrooms.
Applications due Feb. 19
One-time $1,000 scholarships to current high school seniors to help with 2022-23 college expenses!
Applications due March 18