July/Aug 2021 PIE&G

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July/August 2021


COUNTRY LINES Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

PIE&G Announces Fiber Construction Timeline AMI Update

Foraging for Mushroom Houses


Saving is believing.

Think you can’t afford a geothermal heat pump? After a closer look, you may be surprised at its overall affordability. Tax rebates can quickly bring down the initial costs of purchase and installation. And a geothermal heat pump is much cheaper to run than the most efficient furnaces and air conditioners. In fact, your energy bills can be cut by as much as 70%. As a result, many geothermal homeowners see a return on investment of 10-20% over the life of their system. When you crunch the numbers, you’ll see WaterFurnace is the money-saving choice. To learn more, contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today. Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Your Local WaterFurnace Dealers Bad Axe/Cass City Thumb Clg & Htg (855) 206-5457 thumbcooling andheating.com Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich geothermal.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 adamsheatingcooling.com Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 mm-plumbing.com

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 topnotchheatandair.com Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 aireserv.com/ southern-michigan Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 waltonheating.com

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

Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 dwgeothermal.com

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

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

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

visit us at waterfurnace.com

The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

Contents countrylines.com

July/August 2021 Vol. 41, No. 7



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey 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. 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 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.

Cover photo by Mike Barton

6 10 TIPS FOR ENJOYING MICHIGAN’S DARK SKIES Our state has some of the best stargazing spots in the country; here’s how to make the most of them. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Whole Grains: These hearty and delicious recipes will satisfy your soul and benefit your health.

14 FORAGING FOR MUSHROOM HOUSES Whether it’s architecture, history or whimsy you’re seeking, these fungi-shaped dwellings in Charlevoix offer something for everyone. 18 HOW TO PREVENT ELECTRIC SHOCK DROWNING You can avoid the hidden danger of being shocked in water if you know what to look out for.

#micoopcommunity I see you, Michigan summer. Bring on the sun, water, and sand. @frankfort_moments (Kathy Smith)

Be featured!

Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.


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


Win a $50 bill credit! Up Next: Around The World, due Aug. 1; Instant Pot & Slow Cooker, due Sept. 1. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.


Win $150 for stories published! Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/ community.


Win a $50 bill credit! Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


What’s New?

Our building, our technology, and our services!

pieg.com /PIEGCooperative/

Tom Sobeck, President & CEO


Charles Arbour, Treasurer 23899 M32 S, Hillman MI 49746 989-657-4358 • Term Expires: 2023

Allan Berg, Chairman 1117 E. Heythaler Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-0044 • Term Expires 2023


n my last article, I provided an update on all the activities underway at your cooperative, including our new headquarters office building, our Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project, and our fiber project. Here’s the latest as we continue making progress.

Sandy Borowicz, Secretary 5341 Carlson Rd.,Cheboygan, MI 49721 231-627-9220 • Term Expires 2021

Our building is very close to completion, and by the next edition of Country Lines, we hope to be in the process of moving in. Our AMI project is ramping up, and we’re excited about the benefits this technology will bring. The project that’s generating the most excitement, however, is our fiber project.

Sally Knopf 1849 W. 638 Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-4196 • Term Expires 2021

From the outset, we’ve known that the need for this vital service is great throughout our service territory. As much as we’d like to do so, we simply cannot build the system as fast as you all would like! We’ve spent a great deal of time and effort developing a deployment plan that gives us the best opportunity for success while providing a path that makes the most sense from an operations standpoint.

John Brown, Vice-Chairman 21 W. Devereaux Lake Rd., Indian River, MI 49749 231-625-2099 • Term Expires 2023

Kurt Krajniak 7630 Wallace Rd., Alpena, MI 49707 989-884-3037 • Term Expires 2022 Brentt Lucas 15841 Carr Rd., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-3678 • Term Expires 2022 Daryl Peterson P.O. Box 54, Hillman, MI 49746 989-742-3145 • Term Expires 2021 Raymond Wozniak 6737 State St., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-2498 • Term Expires 2022

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

Communications Director/Co-op Editor: Maire Chagnon-Hazelman Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op 19831 M-68 Hwy., P.O. Box 308 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.








You’ll read about two exciting developments in this edition of Country Lines on pages 12–13. We’re announcing the creation of our new fiber division, “PIE&G Connect,” as well as revealing its logo. We’re also pleased to announce our fouryear fiber construction plan. The plan will undoubtedly make some of you very happy, while it may be frustrating to others. We recognize this and plan to do our very best to maintain the schedule we’ve outlined. Our goal is to get this muchneeded service out to the membership as quickly, safely, and economically as possible. Please continue to visit our website pieg.com and follow our Facebook page for updates. We’ll provide new information as circumstances warrant. Thank you for your patience and understanding while we work through all these new initiatives. Please know that your co-op team is working very diligently on your behalf to make these improvements a reality so that we can serve you better. Here’s to a safe and enjoyable summer!

Your Board In Action At its most recent meetings, the PIE&G Board of Directors: • Authorized capital credit retirements in the amount of approximately $1,437,600. • Set a Member Regulation Special Meeting date for Sept. 28 at 9 a.m. • Accepted the 2020 audit report of PIE&G by Harris Group. • Accepted the 2020 audit report of the PIE&G Communities First Fund by SOME CPAs. • Appointed the 2021 Board of Directors Nominating Committee. • Appointed Cheryl Heiny to the Communities First Fund Board of Directors. • Approved an amendment to the 2021 Utility Plant Construction Work Plan. • Authorized staff to request the construction of a new substation in Mackinaw Township by Wolverine Power Cooperative.

• Reviewed proposed bylaw amendments and recommended approval and notice to the membership. • Authorized an increase in the cooperative’s maximum debt limit to $250 million. • Authorized cooperative staff to execute a loan agreement in the amount of $65 million in anticipation of the financing needs of the fiberto-the-home project. • Agreed to participate in the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Financing Corporation’s Cooperative Integrity Fund. • Reviewed the fiber-to-the-home project marketing plan. • Authorized continued closure of the office lobby to allow staff to prepare for relocating operations to the new headquarters building. • Accepted team reports.

Summer Energy Savings Help keep your cooling costs in check this summer with these tips from energy.gov.


Prevent Heat Gain From The Sun

• Sun shining in through windows and doors literally warms your home like an oven. Use window coverings to keep the sun out and your home’s temperature cooler.


Maintain Your A/C Unit

• For central air, have a professional check the unit annually. He or she will perform a proper tuneup and can spot some potential problems before they become emergencies. • Change the filter on your HVAC unit regularly all year long.

Explore michigan-energy.org

2 Run Ceiling Fans • Run ceiling fans at a fast speed in a counterclockwise direction to create a wind chill effect. Turn the fan off when you leave the room; fans cool people, not rooms.



Use Your Thermostat Wisely

• Try to keep your thermostat as close to the outdoor temperature as possible. The Department of Energy recommends at least 78 degrees when you are home. Turn up the thermostat even higher when you are away to prevent your A/C unit from running unnecessarily. A programmable or smart thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature to ensure you are cooling your home when you need to and not when you don’t. • When first turning on the air conditioner, don’t turn the temperature way down to jumpstart the cooling effect. Your A/C unit doesn’t work faster because the temperature is lower, but it could cause it to run longer than necessary.

6 Be Smart About Appliances • Only run full loads in your washer and dishwasher.

Seal Leaks • Cracks and leaks around windows, doors, and utility cutouts allow warm air to enter the home and cause your A/C unit to work harder. Seal or caulk leaks and holes.

• Let your dishes air-dry instead of using the heat setting. Prop the door open once the final rinse is complete for faster drying. • Cook or grill outside when you can to avoid running your stove or oven. • Buy Energy-Star certified appliances; these appliances are guaranteed to run more efficiently than noncertified ones.

Michigan co-op members: This website is your one-stop shop for all things energy efficiency. Learn about ways to save money and apply for rebates on energy-efficient appliances. You can also participate in free programs to help you assess and improve your home’s overall efficiency. Business and farm programs are available as well. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


10 TIPS For Enjoying Michigan’s Dark Skies

Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, which shroud the state in near-total darkness. This makes it the perfect destination for some of the best stargazing in the nation. Michigan has committed to establishing areas that are devoid of the artificial light commonly found around cities, which partially obscures the night sky. These include six dark sky preserves located in state parks; Headlands International Dark Sky Park and Dr. T.K. Lawless Park (Michigan’s only internationally designated dark sky parks); and the pristine, quiet shoreline and forests in the Upper Peninsula. Each of these spots provides for the perfect dark sky viewing experience, and they are located all across the state. With so many spectacular locations that let you truly see the extraordinary dark sky above, you are sure to be starstruck by Michigan’s dark skies. To be well prepared for your night of stargazing, follow these 10 tips:




Find the Perfect Spot

Once you’ve left the city lights behind, it is time to find the right spot to set up for the night. Any of Michigan’s dark sky preserves are perfect for stargazing in the Lower Peninsula, but if you are hoping to see the aurora borealis——or northern lights——as well, you’ll want to go somewhere you can see the horizon. The aurora borealis will likely appear low on the horizon rather than overhead because of Michigan’s distance from the north pole. This makes the Upper Peninsula’s unobstructed shoreline along Lake Superior perfect for chasing the northern lights.


Check the Weather

To really optimize your dark sky viewing experience, you want to be sure to pick the perfect day. Choose a night with a clear sky forecast——clouds and rain could really put a damper on the night. It’s not just the weather you should keep an eye on, either. Light from the moon can make it harder to see the stars, so avoid nights where the moon is full. Also, though Michigan’s Great Lakes help to darken the sky, their shores are often 10 degrees cooler at night than sites farther inland. This means warm clothes and lots of blankets are a must.


Find a Place to Stay

After confirming there will be a clear night, you’ll want to book your sleeping accommodations——such as a state park campsite——ahead of time. Luckily, Michigan’s six dark sky preserves are located in state parks, and most have camping available onsite. While Headlands International Dark Sky Park doesn’t allow you to set up camp, the park is never closed and there are many nearby accommodations for spending the night.


Find Art in Constellations

A constellation is a grouping of stars that forms a distinctive shape, usually that of an animal or mythological being. As the year goes on and the earth rotates around the sun, different constellations become visible, so research which constellations can be seen overhead from your dark sky destination at the particular time you’ll be there. This summer in Michigan, look for Virgo, Sagittarius, and the Summer Triangle. Also, Ursa Major and Minor, known as the Big and Little Dippers, are visible all year long in Michigan. Since they are simple and easy to identify, they can help direct you to other constellations as well.

Stargazing at McClain State Park, photo courtesy of Pure Michigan


Look For More Than Stars

The sky is home to more than just the moon and stars. Check the orbit of the International Space Station to see if it will be visible, or learn the names of the satellites that will be gliding across the dark sky overhead. These man-made structures are visible at night when the sun reflects off their surfaces. You can also find out which planets will be visible depending on the time of year, or if a meteor shower will light up your night. It’s best to research your viewing location beforehand so that you can know what to expect, and it may give you something to hunt for as you focus your gaze among the stars.


Don’t Get Lost—Bring A Map

There are billions of stars in the Milky Way—— and looking at a sky full of seemingly endless stars is awe-inspiring. This is why you need a star map. A map can give you a sense of what you are looking at and help you navigate the celestial skyscape of constellations and planets. Print a map to bring with you or download an app to your phone. Either way, having access to a map while stargazing is a great way to learn about the universe above and keeps you from getting lost in the sea of stars.


See Far Away, Up Close

A night of spectacular dark sky viewing doesn’t require a fancy telescope. Actually, without the proper practice and experience, viewing the sky with a telescope can be challenging. Rather than spending money on expensive equipment, bring a pair of binoculars! Binoculars can help you focus and get a better view of the stars——plus they are portable, which allows you to travel easily with them in hand. Kids can also create their own telescope using common household items like paper towel rolls, which makes for a fun craft before your trip.


Allow The Stars To Shine— Use A Red Light

To allow the twinkling lights of the stars to really shine, you want to avoid creating any other light that will obstruct your view. Limit the use of all your devices and flashlights, and be sure to find a spot away from other artificial light sources like street lamps if you’re not in a dark sky park. When you do need a light, use a red light. Red lights allow your eyes to stay adjusted to the darkness, while still helping you see things——such as where to walk on the trail or reading your star map. You can purchase a special red-light device, or simply tape a few layers of red cellophane over your flashlight!


Join A Celestial Celebration

Michigan’s stargazing and astronomy community——amateurs and professionals alike—— seizes every opportunity to gather and admire the stars. On the shores of Michigan near the Mackinac Bridge, Headlands International Dark Sky Park hosts many of its own events, complete with astronomer presentations, telescope demonstrations, and space-themed celebrations. In August, you can also celebrate the Perseid Meteor Shower at Michigan state parks.


Just Look Up

The first step to viewing the night sky like never before is turning your eyes to the sky. Get yourself to where they can really be seen and look up——in Michigan, beautiful dark skies are everywhere. Step away from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine and escape to the sky’s natural brilliance. Just set up your blanket, grab a thermos full of hot chocolate, and surround yourself with good company while you wait for Michigan’s dark skies to light up in a sea of stars. Reprinted with permission from Pure Michigan and michigan.org.



FREE And Easy Home Energy-Saving Solutions ow often do you get free and easy opportunities to save you money on utility bills and reduce energy use? Probably not very often. You will find that the Energy Optimization program provides these kinds of opportunities to help you with energy-saving solutions for your home at no cost—and it’s easy to get started.

Large Appliance Evaluation and Replacement

If your household meets the income eligibility guidelines below, you could receive FREE energy-saving products and services. Qualified households have two options to improve the energy performance of their homes.

Eligibility Requirements


Option 1: FREE product kit of energy-saving items, delivered to your home with instructions for installation. Product kits may include energy-saving items like: • • • •

LED bulbs LED night-lights Smart power strip Water-saving fixtures (only in select kits)

Option 2: FREE in-home consultation and product kit, with direct installation of energy-saving products by a qualified energy professional.

In-home consultation A trained professional can help identify areas where additional energy savings are possible. During the consultation, the representative will bring and install the energy-efficient products in the free product kit and will offer tips for saving energy.

Based on their in-home consultation, some customers may be qualified for assistance to upgrade larger, inefficient appliances, such as refrigerators. If they are considered highly inefficient, you could receive a new replacement at no cost.

To qualify for the Energy Optimization program, your household must meet the following income guidelines. Gross annual income is the combined total income of all household members before taxes.

Family Size

Gross Annual Income

















Note: For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $9,080 for each additional person.

To find out if you qualify for Energy Optimization programs or to learn more, call 877-296-4319 or visit michigan-energy.org.

The Energy Optimization program provides qualified households with no-cost tools like energysaving devices, expert advice, and tips to help you:  improve energy performance  better manage electric use  reduce electric bills


Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit michigan-energy.org.


American Pride 1. My nephew Levi, proudly carrying our flag at Ford Field. Jeanie Stevens  2. The guardian. Laura Lachowicz  3. We bow to the flag. Kathy Brown  4. We are family! Laura Lachowicz  5. Flag, flowers, and freedom! Wendy Martin  6. Fourth of July. Randy Niederhouse





1 Enter to win up to a


energy bill credit!



Submit Your “Water” Photos!

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 July/August theme is Water. Photos can be submitted through July 27 to be featured in our September 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 2021, you will be entered to win a credit of up to $200 on your December 2021 bill.



MI CO-OP Recipes

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

WHOLE GRAINS Nutty, tasty and filling recipes.


FARRO SALAD WITH MINT DRESSING Amy Schultz, Great Lakes Energy

Pickled Onions: ½ cup vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided 1 red onion, thinly sliced Farro: 1 cup dried (uncooked) farro 3 cups water ½ teaspoon salt Salad: 4 cups arugula 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 large cucumber, seeded and diced 1 carrot, thinly sliced Spiced Chickpeas: 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) ½ teaspoon smoked paprika ¼ teaspoon garlic powder ¹⁄ 8 teaspoon cayenne pepper • freshly ground black pepper & salt, to taste 1 tablespoon olive oil



energy bill credit!

Around The World due Aug. 1 Instant Pot & Slow Cooker Favorites due Sept. 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 recipes@countrylines.com.


Dressing: ¹⁄ ³ cup fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 1 teaspoon sugar 1 garlic clove, minced ¹⁄ 8 teaspoon salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste ¹⁄ ³ cup extra-virgin olive oil ¹⁄ ³ cup chopped, fresh mint Mix together the vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and red onion. Let sit at room temperature for an hour. Meanwhile, make the farro; simmer 1 cup dry farro in 3 cups water with ½ teaspoon salt until tender, about 25 minutes (will make 2 cups cooked). Drain. In a large bowl, toss cooked farro, arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, and carrot together and set aside. Drain chickpeas and blot with paper towels; toss with spices (do not add oil yet). Heat a large 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Once oil is hot, fry for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, make dressing. Add chickpeas to salad. Toss with dressing. Top with pickled onions. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos


Ruth Benjamin, HomeWorks Tri-County 5 cups water 1–1½ cups mixture of fresh and dried fruit, cut into small pieces (fresh apple, pear, or peach combined w/ raisins, dried cranberries/ cherries/apricots, etc.) ¼ cup multigrain cereal (e.g., Bob’s Red Mill) 2 cups old fashioned oats ½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract ½ teaspoon cinnamon • favorite nuts (walnuts, pecans, or slivered almonds) • favorite yogurt

Combine water and fruit in a 4-quart saucepan with lid. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for several minutes, until fresh fruit is soft and dried fruit is plump. Add multigrain cereal and oats. Simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Cover and let sit for a minute. Spoon into serving bowls (makes 4–5 large servings). Sprinkle with nuts and top with 4–8 ounces of yogurt. Garnish with fresh berries if desired. Also can be served with milk or half-and-half. Refrigerate leftovers for easy warming later in the week.

OLD-FASHIONED BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES Morgan Wernette, HomeWorks Tri-County

HEARTY RAINBOW MASON JAR SALAD Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy ½ 1 1 ¼ 1 1 4 1

cup dry red quinoa lemon, juiced tablespoon olive oil cup crumbled feta cheese cup mini grape tomatoes, sliced orange bell pepper, diced radishes, diced cup chickpeas

1 1 4 4

cup shelled edamame cup diced celery cups fresh spinach leaves mason jars

Cook the dry quinoa per package instructions and let it cool. Toss the quinoa with the juice of one lemon, olive oil, and feta cheese. Set aside. Place equal parts of each ingredient in a mason jar, starting with the quinoa mixture. It can be refrigerated for up to 4 days in a sealed container. Enjoy!

1 1½ 1 ¼ ¼ 1¼ 1 ¼ 1 •

cup buckwheat flour teaspoons white sugar teaspoon baking powder teaspoon baking soda teaspoon salt cup buttermilk large egg teaspoon vanilla tablespoon shortening maple syrup or honey, for serving

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly mix in buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and shortening until smooth. Grease skillet. Drop batter by large spoonfuls. Cook 3–4 minutes until bubbles form and edges are crisp. Flip and cook another 2–3 minutes until brown. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup or honey.



Big News From Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op! e’re excited to tell you about our new fiber division, PIE&G Connect, and our new fiber logo (above)! PIE&G Connect is separate from our electric and natural gas operations. Plus, we’re also pleased to announce our proposed construction schedule for all four phases of our fiber internet network!


Please be assured that your Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op teams are working tirelessly to complete the necessary preparations for construction and configuration required to deliver fiber internet services as quickly as possible. Sometimes weather


or other unforeseen factors may impact our plans, but we will continue to communicate with members about any changes to the schedule. The schedule is intended to provide an outline for the fiber build for the next several years based on the most current assessment of our project. The sequence of the build phases was driven by two primary factors: proximity to PIE&G’s headquarters and the nature of our design. The construction is estimated to take about a year for the completion of each phase.

Below are the four build phases that include associated neighborhoods in each zone with the corresponding substation abbreviation. To find which phase you reside in, please see the first two letters of your “Map Location” listed on your billing statement, and compare it to the substation abbreviations corresponding to each zone or area below. PHASE 1: Construction will start to bring fiber broadband to our service territory’s first phase of the Central area. This includes Onaway (ON), Canada Creek (CC), Black Lake (BL), Tower (TW), Fingerboard (FB), and Mullet Lake (ML). The first installations are expected to start in Q1 2022.

Fiber Internet Timeline Bois Blanc Island





PHASE 2: Mainline construction in Phase II of our North area, including Cheboygan (CN), Hammond Bay (HB), Millersburg (MB), Hawks (HK), and Hagensville (HG) is expected to begin Q1 2023. PHASE 3: Mainline construction in our East area of Posen (PS), Grand Lake (GL), Alpena (AP), Hillman (HN), and Avalon (AV) is expected to begin Q1 2024. PHASE 4: Mainline construction in our South area of Beaver Lake (BV), Atlanta (AA), and Lewiston (LW) is expected to begin in Q1 2025. The process of building a fiber-to-the-home network is complex, and all areas to be served will go through several steps for each phase of design and construction.* As each substation feed begins inventory and make-ready construction, you can expect to see crews from Davey Resource Group on or near your property and in your neighborhoods working on the project.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and patience as our fiber broadband project unfolds, from all of us at Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op. We are excited to take these steps in improving communications and reliability across our electric system and for the opportunities high-speed fiber internet will provide for members. Follow us on Facebook and the web (pieg.com/fiber), in our Spotlight, and in Michigan Country Lines for the latest news.





Begins Q1 2022, tentative completion Q1 2023 Substations included: • Onaway • Canada Creek • Black Lake • Tower • Fingerboard • Mullett Lake


Begins Q1 2023, tentative completion Q1 2024 Substations included: • Cheboygan • Hammond Bay • Millersburg • Hawks • Hagensville


Begins Q1 2024, tentative completion Q1 2025 Substations included: • Posen • Grand Lake • Alpena • Hillman • Avalon


Begins Q1 2025, tentative completion Q1 2026 * To learn more about the fiber construction process, visit pieg.com/fiber for our Fiber FAQs. Go to the “Next Steps— Getting Service” category, and click on “What is involved in the process of building a fiber-to-the-home network?”.

Substations included: • Beaver Lake • Atlanta • Lewiston


Foraging for Mushroom Houses By Emily Haines Lloyd || Photography by Mike Barton


hen you turn the corner to the charming cul-de-sac and first spy the houses perched one after the other at an almost fairy-tale level—words like charming and quaint are almost impossible not to use. It harkens to Middle Earth or Narnia, and one expects hobbits, dwarves, or fauns to wander out and offer you a cup of tea and biscuits after your long journey. However, these homes designed by architect Earl Young, often referred to as the Mushroom Houses, aren’t found in storybooks or magical forests, but rather right in the heart of Charlevoix, Michigan. And one doesn’t need a magic wardrobe or ruby slippers to reach them—they are available to visit in small electric GEM vehicles, complete with a tour guide. Edith Pair owned an art gallery for years in Young’s Weathervane building and was flooded with curious 14 JULY/AUGUST 2021

out-of-towners trying to find “the mushroom houses” (dubbed for the curvy, overhanging rooftops)— something they’d been told not to miss while in town. “It was a lightbulb moment. I just thought, I could take people to see them,” said Pair. “We started with walking tours in 2006, then got into horse and carriage setup, and now we have our GEM cars. It’s so great to be able to take people around and tell them about this really interesting

notoriously low ceilings, presumably because he himself was fairly short. Pair would love to include more interiors in future tours, but for now, people still get to enjoy the one-ofa-kind spectacle of the Mushroom Houses. “It’s a privilege to share the stories,” said Pair. “I’ve seen some people hop on the tour prepared to be bored, but once they hear the stories, see the stones that were almost magically moved and maneuvered—everyone becomes mesmerized. Even me, still, after all this time.” The houses offer whimsical views and rich stories, and are a testament to “Stones have their own personalities. Young’s own inner voice People say I’m crazy when I say so, but that encouraged his desire to build something unique they really do.” –Earl Young and lasting. Each home has its own character, easy to spot. His buildings feature and the man who built them believed wide, flowing eaves, exposed beams their natural elements were the magic and rafters, and a horizontal design behind the masonry. that harkens a bit to Frank Lloyd Wright. “Stones have their own personalities,” Young told a reporter for the Detroit Free Press in 1973. “People say I’m “My dad knew Earl Young,” said Pair. crazy when I say so, but they really do.” “There are so many great stories about his work. He used boulders up to several tons, which he’d haul out of the lake with workhorses and chains. I mean, can you imagine?”

piece of artful architecture and history we have in Charlevoix, and then give them tips on some other things they should see or do while in town.” Pair’s tours give a wide range of information on Young’s unique journey to his vocation, as well as a look at all of the houses in town. Earl Young grew up in Charlevoix, a self-taught architect and builder who constructed 26 residential homes and four commercial properties. He notoriously scavenged Northern Michigan for large boulders, limestone, and fieldstone, and constructed his unique structures to blend in with their natural surroundings. Given that his career lasted over 50 years and he built well into the 1970s, Young’s homes are

Pair isn’t alone in her wonder and amazement at what Young managed to accomplish with the tools and machinery available to him. Mike Seitz, a South African architect, came from his home in Texas to visit his wife’s parents in Charlevoix. Once he caught sight of the Mushroom Houses, he couldn’t leave until he bought one. His reimagining of four houses, including one designed by Young’s daughter, Virginia Olsen, garnered some attention, particularly as he imported thatched roof specialists from Europe to install natural, yet durable, rooftops. The four Young properties sit dispersed, each different while sharing the imaginative design of the bold architect. Each one is bespoke, with exposed rock and beams, and available to rent for private stays. Guests should be prepared to duck occasionally, as Young’s Mushroom Houses have

Photographer Mike Barton has colorfully captured the Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix in this hardcover book that features more than 190 photographs. To purchase a copy of the book, visit: http://www.amzn.com/0989926877

For more information or to schedule a tour, visit: MushroomHouseTours.com /MushroomHouseTours @MushroomHouseTours



Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op Electric Rate Tariff Increase Effective September 1, 2021 As announced in the May/June issue of Country Lines, the Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op Board of Directors approved the 2020 Electric Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER) analysis, which indicated an increase in revenue in the amount of $607,760. This increase was equitably distributed among the following rate classes as outlined below. RATE CLASS


NEW $/kWh







General Service



Large General Service



Primary Service



Outdoor Lighting— Monthly Charge 175W MV 400W MV 100W HPS 250W HPS 40W LED T5 70W LED T3/T5



$12.48 $22.17 $9.62 $16.35 $7.05 $8.13

$12.73 $22.71 $9.77 $16.70 $7.10 $8.21

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. For specific details of any Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op tariffs or fees, please call 1-800-423-6634 or visit our website at pieg.com.

Notice to Members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op A Special Board Meeting is set for September 28 at 9 a.m. The board of directors will consider changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its meeting on Sept. 28, 2021, at the cooperative’s office at 19831 M-68 Hwy., Onaway, Michigan. The meeting will start at 9 a.m., and Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op members may participate. The following items will be discussed: • The board will establish the 2022 Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor, to be applied to the cooperative’s retail member-consumers’ kilowatt-hour use. The Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor represents the power supply costs as established by the cooperative in conjunction with Wolverine Power Cooperative. The factor is established annually and reviewed monthly; and • Consideration of revisions to the cooperative’s billing rules and policies. 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.

Notice to Members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op A Board Meeting is set for August 24, 9:30 a.m., at the cooperative’s Onaway office. At its regularly scheduled meeting on August 24, the board of directors will consider changes to the cooperative’s bylaws. The meeting will be held at the co-op’s office at 19831 M68 Hwy., Onaway, Michigan, and will be open to all Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op members. The session will begin with an opportunity for members to provide direct input to the board of directors. Members are asked to call and request to speak to the board; staff will direct any interested 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. Consideration of the following bylaw amendments will be discussed: • • • • •

Article X, Section 2 Title – Change “Energy” to “Services” to correspond to the verbiage of the provision; Article VII, Section 9, paragraph (g) – to provide for the mailing of bylaws and amendments to any member upon request; Article VII, Section 10, Treasurer – to clarify responsibilities to include oversight and review of receipts; Article II, Section 6 – to clarify that the ballot for the election of directors shall be signed by the member; and Article IV, Section 6 added – to allow for meetings to be conducted remotely via electronic means (as permitted by the Michigan Nonprofit Corporation Act).

Participation: Any interested member may attend and participate. Persons needing accommodations to participate should contact Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op at 800-423-6634 a week in advance to request mobility, visual, hearing, or other assistance. 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.


AMI Update Full deployment of PIE&G’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project began in May 2021. The meter exchanges are being performed by PIE&G employees and by Advanced Meter Services, a contractor working on behalf of the cooperative. The cooperative started a pilot phase in Presque Isle and Cheboygan counties. Once that pilot phase has been tested, the full AMI implementation project will continue.

WHAT IS AN ‘AMI’ SYSTEM? IE&G’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system is the latest technology available to utilities to improve the level of customer service, reliability, and outage response. An AMI system is comprised of two main components: the meters/modules, and the communications infrastructure and software system. AMI meters measure energy use and quality, and transmit that information to collector equipment mounted on our poles and towers.


The co-op is working with Vision Metering to ensure that the meters are manufactured to state-of-the-art specifications. Field testing of meters in a pilot program has been underway to ensure that all components of the communications and metering infrastructure comply with strict industry standards and meet PIE&G’s needs. The data is encrypted and consists of interval usage, power quality measurements, load monitoring, and outage information. This information will be used for billing, system integrity, and planning and maintenance purposes. The information also alerts PIE&G to the location and number of power outages. This will improve response time and help with the efficient allocation of resources as power is restored. Once the collectors receive the encrypted data, the data is securely communicated to PIE&G’s office. Our software engineering partners have been testing the data to ensure its security and that it is in a format that PIE&G can utilize for billing (meter readings and dates), load

monitoring (circuits that may be peaking), outage management, and power quality measurements (to observe which circuits are performing to standards or if maintenance may be needed for improvement). PIE&G is also working to build its communications infrastructure. AMI data transmission is improved when the collectors are placed on tall poles and/or towers. The taller height improves the quality and reliability of communications. The collectors will be located above obstacles such as buildings, objects, and trees that may interfere with or block the transmission path of signals. PIE&G’s infrastructure will be comprised of 100-foot poles (custom-manufactured for PIE&G by Moran Iron Works) and several area 400-foot telecommunications towers (upon which PIE&G will mount its equipment). Our team is currently evaluating additional sites to determine strategic areas in our service territory in which to place more of our 100-foot poles to optimize our communications network. Stay tuned for more information as the project continues in the coming months.

Quick Facts On Advanced Meters • • • • • •

You won’t have to “read the meter” Can help save money and energy Online access to electric history Faster outage response Shorter outage times Accurate billing/no estimated bills

Cooperative members can expect to receive a postcard notifying them of their upcoming meter exchange. If you’re not home, a door hanger will be left where a meter installation has taken place. The impact of the installation is minimal. Co-op members can expect to lose power for a few minutes during the exchange. In addition, the next bill will show two meter readings: one from the old meter and one from the new meter. Members will be able to identify old and new readings by the meter numbers included on their bill. Until the system is fully operational, members who receive monthly billings should continue to report their meter readings by their due date each month. PIE&G will remove the meter reading boxes on billing stubs when members no longer need to report readings. The upgraded system will lower the cost related to manual meter reading, which will contribute significantly to the financial return on the project. The new system will also reduce the cooperative’s carbon footprint by reducing the number of employees traveling in response to meter issues. Other benefits from the meters include automated detection of outages, more accurate information about the outages and restoration times, detailed information about energy use, better detection of power theft, and support and expansion of future billing options. Members can find more information at pieg.com/electricmeter-information. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17

Win a


Where In Michigan Is This?

energy bill credit!

Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by July 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com/community. May 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Tim Budnik, a Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op member, who correctly identified the photo as Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron. Photo by Michael Herbon. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.


Each year, 3,800 people in the U.S. die from drowning. Electric shock drowning occurs when an electric current escapes boats, docks, and lights near marinas, shocking nearby swimmers. There are no visible signs of current seeping into water, which makes this a hidden danger. The electric shock paralyzes swimmers, making them unable to swim to safety.


Boat Owners

• Never swim near a boat or launching ramp. Residual current could flow into the water from the boat or the marina’s wiring, potentially putting anyone in the water at risk of electric shock.

• Ensure your boat is properly maintained and consider having it inspected annually. GFCIs and ELCIs should be tested monthly. Conduct leakage testing to determine if electrical current is escaping the vessel.

• If you feel any tingling sensations while in the water, tell someone and swim back in the direction from which you came. Immediately report it to the dock or marina owner.

• Use portable GFCIs or shore power cords (including “Y” adapters) that are “UL-Marine Listed” when using electricity near water. • Regularly have your boat’s electrical system inspected by a certified marine electrician. Ensure it meets your local and state NEC, NFPA, and ABYC safety codes.




CALL 911

DO NOT enter the water. You could become a victim, too. Sources: Electrical Safety Foundation International, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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FIREWORKS SAFETY TIPS Fireworks and summer go hand in hand, and we want you to have a safe, fun-filled season! Keep these safety tips in mind:

Make sure fireworks are legal in your community before using them. Never buy professionalgrade fireworks. They are not designed for safe consumer use. Keep small children a safe distance from all fireworks, including sparklers, which can burn at temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees. Never reignite or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby to thoroughly soak duds before throwing them away. Keep pets indoors and away from fireworks to avoid contact injuries or noise reactions.

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