May 2021

Page 1

May/June 2021


COUNTRY LINES Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

Annual Meter Readings Start Soon

Spring Into Recycling Why Fiber is Better

Four Generations Contribute To The Swanson Pickle Co.



Not hearing is believing.

Many homeowners have come to accept that a noisy A/C is a fact of life. But with WaterFurnace, you don’t have to settle. Nothing can disrupt a perfect summer afternoon in your backyard more than a loud air conditioner. Geothermal users are never disturbed from outside HVAC noise because there’s no outdoor equipment to make any. All the complicated work takes place underground—out of earshot. With WaterFurnace, your peace and quiet is assured. 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 Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201

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

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

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

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

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

visit us at

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


May 2021 Vol. 41, No. 5



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird 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 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.

Michigan Country Lines, Your Communications Partner For more than 40 years, our co-op members have received Michigan Country Lines because it is the most effective and economical way to share information. Michigan Country Lines keeps members up-to-date about everything going on within their electric co-op. Issues contain news about co-op services, director elections, member meetings, and management decisions that members need to know about as owners of the co-op. The magazine also includes legal notices that would otherwise have to be placed in local media at a substantial cost. Sending Michigan Country Lines helps the co-op fulfill one of its essential principles—to educate and communicate openly with its members. The board of directors authorizes the co-op to subscribe to Michigan Country Lines on behalf of each member at an average cost of $4.15 per year, paid as part of members’ electric bills. The current magazine cost is 52 cents per copy. Michigan Country Lines is published, at cost, by the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association in Lansing. As always, we welcome your comments at

6 THE MICHIGAN STATE CAPITOL WENT GEOTHERMAL–– SHOULD YOU? Geothermal power helps you save money, be greener and earn tax credits. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Garden Fresh: These scrumptious dishes make fresh veggies the star of the show.

14 FOUR GENERATIONS CONTRIBUTE TO PICKLE LEGACY For Swanson Pickling Co. in Ravenna, growing and distributing cucumbers is a family affair. 18 GUEST COLUMN Hidden Northern Michigan Treasure For All Ages: The history of beautiful Kitch-iti-kipi spring in the U.P.


Spring is in the sky! @abeardedshooter (Matt Hunter)

Be featured!

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


To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit


Win a $50 bill credit! Up Next: Around The World, due Aug. 1; Instant Pot & Slow Cooker, due Sept. 1. Go to for more information or to submit.


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


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



Springtime Updates To Projects And Rates /PIEGCooperative/ BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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

John Brown, Vice-Chairman 21 W. Devereaux Lake Rd., Indian River, MI 49749 231-625-2099 • Term Expires 2023 Sally Knopf 1849 W. 638 Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-4196 • Term Expires 2021 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

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.





4 MAY 2021



Tom Sobeck, President & CEO


pring is here! The sun is shining, the grass is greening, and springtime flowers are in bloom. New beginnings of spring are underway at the cooperative too. Construction of the new building is nearing completion, our Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project is progressing, and our Fiber-to-thehome project is taking shape. While this is all good news, spring is also when our board reviews distribution rates. This year, that review indicated an increase to most electric rates. In September, members using 500 kWh per month will see their bill increase by about $1.24 a month. It is inevitable that for all businesses, as costs increase, so will rates. I’ve heard talk of how expensive Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op rates are compared to other utilities, but that is just not true. Compare PIE&G’s monthly residential bill to the combined average for all Michigan cooperatives and to our investor-owned competitors at 500 kWh per month. Utility

Monthly Residential Bill at 500 kWh

Michigan Cooperatives


Consumer’s Energy


Alpena Power




Delivering energy over a nine-county service territory while maintaining reliability and rate competitiveness is a considerable challenge. We take pride in our efforts to hold rates down and we’ll continue that mission. We believe that our investments in AMI and our new building will significantly increase efficiencies and reliability, which in turn, will reduce overall pressure on rates in the future. Yes, electric rates are slightly increasing, but the good news is that our rates remain competitive with all other utilities in the state. I’ll close with best wishes to all as we enjoy spring’s arrival and the start of the summertime season.

Your Board In Action At PIE&G’s Special Member Regulation board meeting on March 23, 2021, the board of directors: • Approved the reconciliation of the 2020 Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor (PSCR) net under-collection of $399,899.62, incorporated into the 2020 PSCR factor and collected throughout the 2021 calendar year; • Approved the 2020 Electric Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER) analysis, requiring a revenue increase of $607,760, effective Sept. 1. At its most recent regular board meetings, the PIE&G Board of Directors: • Reviewed the 2020 audit report of the Harris Group. • Established the gas cost recovery factor of $0.3642 and gas rates effective April 1, 2021.

• Approved the amended estate discount factor for early retirement of capital credits to be 5.18%. • Approved three organizations to be awarded grants through the CoBank Sharing Success Program. • Acknowledged the service of Ms. Ann Douglas and Ms. Jacqueline Robinson for their participation on the Communities First Fund Board of Directors. • Reappointed Elias Taratuta, Gloria Adrian and Sally Wong, and appointed Dave Post to the Communities First Fund Board of Directors. • Accepted team reports. • Approved revisions to the cooperative’s electric rate tariffs to accommodate provisions for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

Annual Meter Readings Begin In May O

ver the next three months, PIE&G meter readers will begin reading electric and/or natural gas meters for our annual verification. Personnel will carry a PIE&G identification badge. To help make this annual process easier, we ask that you:

PIE&G Meter Reading Schedule By County: MAY—Cheboygan, Emmet, Mackinac JUNE—Alcona, Alpena, Presque Isle JULY—Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego

• Please have animals leashed and away from the meter location or inside. • Make sure the meter is clear from obstructions and is easily accessible for our meter readers.

Thank You For Your Cooperation!

Get Involved In Your Co-op It’s time to nominate potential directors.



Potential nominees must meet the qualifications for the office of director as set forth in Article III, Section 2 of the PIE&G bylaws (available on our website, Any member interested in becoming a candidate is invited to call the cooperative’s office and learn about the duties performed by the directors. Board of director meetings are usually held on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 9:30 a.m. To be considered for nomination, submit a letter of interest by June 15 to Nominating Committee, PIE&G, P.O. Box 308, Onaway, MI 49765. All letters will be given to the committee for review and nominations will be made in July. Watch for further information about the Annual Meeting to be held in Posen on Friday, October 22, 2021.









Any qualified PIE&G member-owner can be elected to serve on the cooperative’s board of directors. The term of office is three years. In 2021, one director from each of the following districts will be elected: At-Large, Cheboygan, and Montmorency.



o-ops are self-governing organizations controlled by their members who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives on a cooperative board of directors are accountable to all of its members. Since Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op (PIE&G) is a democracy, it works best when you participate in the organization.



Any qualified member can be elected to serve. The term of office is three years.



The Michigan State Capitol Went Geothermal—Should You? By Larry Kaufmann, Michigan Geothermal Energy Association


he Michigan State Capitol in Lansing recently went geothermal. I was involved at the beginning of this process five years ago. The Capitol is 138 years old and probably had its original heating and cooling system, which had many problems. The system was blowing out hot and cold air at the same time, and it was costly. Most importantly, it was not providing proper circulation—especially in the dome, where it was causing damage to the artwork and artifacts in the Capitol. A committee saw going “green” with geothermal heat pumps as the solution to all these problems. Geothermal will lower the cost of heating and cooling in the Capitol by an estimated $300,000 per year. It will provide more comfort to the people in the building. It will provide better air quality and humidity control to protect the valuable artwork and artifacts. This 2½-year infrastructure project cost $70 million, with part of this cost being paid for by the Tobacco Settlement. This geothermal system design involved


MAY 2021

drilling 224 loops about 500 feet deep. Michigan now joins Colorado, Oklahoma, and Idaho as states with a geothermal Capitol. Notice that we are ahead of California and New York in going green. Some of you may be unfamiliar with geothermal heat pumps, so this information will help you to understand the system and how it can be beneficial for your home. Geothermal has been installed in residential homes since the early 1970s. There are more than 1 million geothermal units in the United States and about 40,000 in Michigan. They work just like your refrigerator. On the bottom of the refrigerator is a coil. Geothermal uses a much bigger coil called a “loop,” which “plugs” into the ground. The ground is a constant temperature between 50-60 degrees year-round, six feet below the soil. Geothermal uses this constant temperature to heat your home in the winter (with compression and a refrigerant) and cool it in the summer. Because the ground is heated by the sun, it is considered renewable energy in Michigan.

Homeowners primarily purchase geothermal systems for three reasons:




Because we are starting with a constant temperature, most geothermal units are four to five times more efficient than a gas, oil, or propane furnace and twice as efficient as an electric air conditioner. This results in big savings for you! Geothermal costs more to install but saves you money every year. When included in the mortgage of a new home, the savings from geothermal will be larger than the increased cost of installation. Therefore, you will have a positive cash flow from Day 1. Once you install a geothermal system, you will have about a three- to five-year payback versus propane or oil heating. Against gas furnaces and air conditioning, geothermal will have a five- to 10-year payback. These are only estimates, and you should contact a Michigan Geothermal Energy Association (MGEA) approved geothermal contractor to get a quote for your home. Many people are concerned about sustainability. Here is your chance to go green and save money! You will also reduce your carbon footprint. There is no open flame in geothermal, which is a great safety feature. You will also have better air quality with a more consistent temperature.

Construction at the Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.

Some great recent news is that Congress has just renewed the Geothermal Tax Credit! The tax credit will be 26% in 2021 and 2022 and will be reduced to 22% in 2023. So the time to act is now! To find a qualified MGEA-approved geothermal dealer, go to Click on the “Contractors” button at the top and enter your ZIP code. You will get a list of all approved MGEA contractors in your area. I do not recommend using a non-MGEA contractor. Many are not fully trained in geothermal, and MGEA cannot help you if the job goes wrong. I have had a geothermal system in my home for over 20 years. The temperature in my 2,600-square-foot house plus 1,000-squarefoot basement has always been 72 degrees. My average heating and cooling bill over these 20 years has been about $70 per month. Geothermal is cost saving for everyone.

The Farmington City Hall complex in Farmington, Michigan, is all geothermal.



Spring Into Recycling Season T

his year, make your spring-cleaning season all about decluttering and recycling unwanted items in your home—you may even save some money.

The basement or garage is a great place to start, especially if you are using that space for a secondary refrigerator or chest freezer. It may be convenient, but if your extra appliance is older than 15 years, it may cost you several hundred dollars or more per year to keep it running. The good news: You can recycle your old refrigerator and/ or chest freezer through the Energy Optimization program. You can add an old window air conditioner or dehumidifier for recycling as well (items must be in working condition). The better news: There is no cost to you. Simply call the Energy Optimization team at 877-296-4319 to schedule a FREE pickup, and a representative will come to your home for removal. The best news: Earn a $50 cash incentive for recycling a refrigerator or chest freezer. After your appliance is picked up, you will receive a rebate check within six to eight weeks. It’s that easy!

Qualifying Appliances

Pickup or Ride-Along Item

Recycle Incentive

Refrigerator (Full-size, 10 cubic feet or larger)



Chest Freezer (10 cubic feet or larger)



Window Air Conditioner






Save even more. Replace your old, outdated refrigerator or freezer with a new energy-efficient ENERGY STAR® model. You may qualify for additional rebates. For more questions, or to schedule a free pickup, please visit or call 877-296-4319.

An outdated refrigerator uses nearly twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR® certified model. Recycle it and earn cash incentives!  Refrigerator: $50 rebate  Chest Freezer: $50 rebate  Window Air Conditioner: $15 rebate (ride-along item)  Dehumidifier: $15 rebate (ride-along item)


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


Mom & Me 1. Teach them young! #vote Pam Misany  2. Just a mom and her kids. Nicole Elliott  3. Ninety-three and still going strong. Bruce Brown  4. A mom with her sweet lion cub. Melanie Gould  5. Mama cat and her kitten. Kelly Urlaub  6. Following her footsteps. Mary Ann Heidemann  7. Raising the (American and POW) flags after the March 11 windstorm knocked them down——Mama Joy lost her Vietnam veteran husband in September and son Joe relocated from Las Vegas to serve his mother. Joy Howell  8. Laughing together. Lori S. Crowe  9. Just a mom and her kids. Nicole Elliott







5 Enter to win up to a


energy bill credit!




Submit Your “Show Your American Pride” 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 May/June theme is Show Your American Pride. Photos can be submitted through May 27 to be featured in our July/August issue. To enter the contest, visit 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

GARDEN FRESH Put your seasonal produce to good use.



Shelley Ehrenberger, Cherryland 4 large tomatoes 1 small cucumber, chopped (1 cup) 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (½ cup) 1 stalk celery, chopped (½ cup) 1 small onion, finely chopped (¼ cup) 1 clove garlic, minced 1 (13¾-ounce) can chicken (or vegetable) broth 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is best) 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon oil, to taste 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper • dash hot pepper sauce, to taste • croutons


Win a


energy bill credit!

10 MAY 2021

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, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to

Plunge tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then into cold water. Slip off skins, then coarsely chop. In a large bowl, combine all vegetables and garlic. Stir in broth and remaining ingredients. Cover and transfer to the fridge until chilled. Serve with croutons. Variation: Whirl in blender in batches until preferred smoothness (I blend about half), then stir together. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at


Valerie Donn, Great Lakes Energy 2 ²⁄ ³ ½ ½ 2 1 1 32 1½ 1 1 1

tablespoons olive oil cup white onion, diced cup celery, diced cup carrots, peeled and diced teaspoons garlic, minced cup green beans, freshly cut up (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes ounces vegetable stock teaspoons oregano bay leaf tablespoon diced fresh parsley (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 zucchini, diced ½ cup small pasta (elbow macaroni, etc.) • salt and pepper, to taste Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Cook green beans in small separate pan with water until half cooked; drain. Add canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, oregano, bay leaf, and parsley to the pot. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer. Add kidney beans, green beans, zucchini, and pasta. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pasta and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving and season with salt and pepper to desired taste.


Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy • fresh ears of corn • sour cream • Mexican seasonings (seasoning blend or mix of garlic, oregano, cumin, & chili powder)

FRESH POPPERS Kris Hazeres, Alger Delta

1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped (or precooked bacon) 2 pounds sweet mini peppers 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 2–3 jalapeños, finely diced 1½ cups finely shredded sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese Cook bacon until crispy. While the bacon is cooking, cut the peppers in

half lengthwise (stems on) and clean out seeds. Once the bacon is done and cooled a bit, use a large knife to chop into small bits. In a medium/large bowl, use a spoon to mix all ingredients except for the mini peppers. Using a small spoon or mini spatula, stuff the mini peppers with the mixture. The sweet mini peppers are even better grilled for a few minutes before stuffing. This recipe can easily be made the night before.

• butter • shredded Asiago cheese Cook or grill fresh ears of corn. Mix sour cream and Mexican seasonings to taste. Coat cooked ears with butter. Roll in sour cream mixture. Roll in Asiago cheese. Enjoy.

COVID-19 Office Closure s of press time, PIE&G’s lobby remains closed through April 30, 2021, and possibly longer. Despite the closure, we maintain a full staff, including linemen, natural gas crews, and member services, all of whom are working to provide essential utility services. Some employees are alternating shifts of working from home and in the office, and work stations have been moved to accommodate social distancing between employees. Check for updates in our Spotlight newsletter, in Country Lines, online at, and on our Facebook page.

You may access your account anytime online at or download our free SmartHub mobile app for your devices. You may also contact us by calling the numbers below.

These measures continue and are intended to protect employees, members, the public, and all families from unnecessary risks of exposure during the pandemic. PIE&G will maintain the procedures outlined above in accordance with state of Michigan guidelines and comply with any new rules as they are announced. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Natural gas emergencies: 1-800-655-8565


Member Services: 1-800-423-6634 (Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Pay-By-Phone: 1-866-999-4571 (have your bill/account number available) Report power outages: 1-800-423-6634


PIE&G provides convenient methods for you to pay your electric bill. Pay Online, By Mobile Device Or By Telephone • Pay online, at our self-service website ( Select Manage My Account powered by SmartHub, º then select “New User,” then “Sign Up.” º Enter billing account number, last name or business name, and email address. Select “Submit” and follow remaining prompts. º • To pay using your mobile device, download SmartHub on the App Store© or Google Play marketplace. • To pay by phone, call 1-866-999-4571. Please have your bill available so you can provide your account number.

Automatic Payment Payments can also be made by automatic withdrawal from your checking, savings, debit or credit account. To use this method, call our office at 800-423-6634.

Pay By Mail

Drop Box

Checks and money orders can be sent to:

COVID-19 Office Closure: Although PIE&G’s office is currently closed to walk-in traffic, you may place your envelope with your check or money order and bill stub in our drop box. Otherwise, we encourage you to communicate with us by telephone during business hours. Please visit and our Facebook page to stay updated.

PIE&G, P.O. Box 308, Onaway, MI 49765 Please include the bottom stub of the bill to assure that your account is properly credited. Please do not send cash.

Fuel Mix Report Have a safe Memorial Day weekend and a happy Fourth of July holiday! Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op will be closed to celebrate the following summer holidays: Memorial Day – Monday, May 31 Independence Day – Monday, July 5 Payments may be made at the co-op’s drop box (checks or money orders only), online at or with our free SmartHub mobile app, or by calling 1-866-9994571 (have your account number handy). In case of emergencies, call 1-800-423-6634.

Access To Rules And Rates Please be advised that the following information is available to Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op members:

The fuel mix characteristics of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ended 12/31/20.

Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used Fuel source

Your Co-op’s fuel mix

Regional average fuel mix
















Renewable Fuels












Solid Waste Incineration









NOTE: Biomass excludes wood; solid waste incineration includes landfill gas; and wind includes a long-term renewable purchase power contract in Wolverine’s mix.

Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix

1. Complete rate schedules; 2. Clear and concise explanation of all rates that the member may be eligible to receive; 3. Assistance from the cooperative in determining the most appropriate rate for a member when the member is eligible to receive service under more than one rate; 4. Clear and concise explanation of the member’s actual energy use for each billing period during the last 12 months. The information can be obtained by visiting or contacting Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op at 989-733-8515.

Regional Average Fuel Mix

Notice to Members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op Electric Tariff and Rule Changes The Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op Board of Directors adopted the following changes to the cooperative’s electric tariffs at its Special Open Meeting and regular board meeting held March 23, 2021, in accordance with P.A. 167: • Approved the reconciliation of the 2020 Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor net under-collection of $399,899.62 and incorporation into the 2020 PSCR factor and continued collection throughout the 2021 calendar year;

Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Type Of Emission/Waste

Your Co-op

Regional Average*

Sulfur Dioxide



• Approved revisions to the cooperative’s electric rate tariffs to accommodate provisions for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI);

Carbon Dioxide



Oxides of Nitrogen



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

High-level Nuclear Waste



• Approved the 2020 Electric Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER) analysis requiring a revenue increase of $607,760, effective Sept. 1, 2021; and

*Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/20. Presque Isle Electric & Gas purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.


Four Generations Contribute To The Swanson Pickle Co.


By Emily Haines Lloyd

From left to right: Matt Swanson, Wes Swanson, Katie Hensley, John Swanson.


ichigan is one of the most diverse agricultural growers in the country, second only to California. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s the number one producer of cucumbers, specifically those grown for pickles. For such a tiny vegetable, pickles make for big business. At Swanson Pickling Co. in Ravenna, Michigan, pickling goes back a long way, starting with John Wesley Swanson, who began by marketing and selling pickles grown in the state after World War II. Four generations later, the Swanson family grows, grades, and ferments pickles that find their way onto grocery shelves across the country.

from four to six weeks. Pickles are then removed from tanks and shipped to client companies throughout the Midwest. These clients include big names as close as Holland, Michigan, where the Kraft Heinz Company uses these pickles as the base for many of its various products. “We’re a company that knows how to pivot and grow based on what our customers want and need,” said John. “In the ‘60s, it was getting into farming. In the ‘80s, we needed to expand our tank yard. In 2000, it was sorting for customers who wanted to stop handling the raw product. You have to be nimble in any business.”

“We grow almost 1,500 acres of pickling cucumbers, which yields about 200 bushels of pickles per acre,” said John Swanson, president of Swanson Pickle Co. “That’s just a third of what we brine, so the rest we’re getting from other farmers around the state.”

John has seen his grandfather and father ride the ebb and flow of the pickle industry, and he’s worked with a lot of family over the years. The dynamics of working with his dad, brothers, and even cousins over the years has been a unique experience. Now, John watches as his three children take on their own roles in the family business.

The company, which is a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member, has more than 1,300 fiberglass tanks, each able to hold 905 bushels of cucumbers, with fermentation taking

The middle of John’s brood, Wes, manages that massive fiberglass tank yard with more than a thousand vessels to watch over. The youngest son, Matt, oversees the farming

14 MAY 2021

Swanson Pickling Co. has more than 1,300 fiberglass tanks, each able to hold 905 bushels of cucumbers, with fermentation taking from four to six weeks.

“Maybe it’s that there are a lot of family businesses in pickles, or the longstanding relationships we seem to have with one another. Or maybe it’s just a happy business. I mean, you can’t even say ‘pickle’ and not smile.” —John Swanson

and growing operations that his own grandfather, Don, moved the business into. Finally, John’s daughter, Kate, who got her MBA from Spain’s IESE business school and used to work for Syngenta in Switzerland, functions as CFO, looking after the financials and sales. “We’re honored to be a fourth-generation business, and luckily it’s never felt like a burden,” said John. “But even if the kids had decided not to take over the business, I wouldn’t have been upset. I’m still proud of what we’ve all built together.” John says he doesn’t carry the burden of the business, the struggles of unknown factors in farming, or even the weight

that could be felt in keeping the family business going, as he speaks of the work the family does. Warmth and friendliness exudes from the present patriarch, and he notes that it feels small and tight-knit like a family within the pickle industry. He mentions moments of discovering “your grandpa knew my grandpa.” “Maybe it’s that there are a lot of family businesses in pickles, or the longstanding relationships we seem to have with one another,” said John. “Or maybe it’s just a happy business. I mean, you can’t even say ‘pickle’ and not smile.”



Why Fiber Is Better here’s a revolution happening at the speed of light in your community: Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) internet service is coming to northeast Michigan, and the benefits are life-changing.


Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, the same company you trust to power your home, business, and school, is working as fast as possible to bring high-speed broadband service to our members. World-class fiber internet means the fastest speeds in your area for downloads and uploads—no more delays or interruptions, even when streaming media. You’ve heard of broadband, but what does that really mean? Why is fiber internet better?

The Technology Broadband commonly refers to high-speed internet access that is always on and faster than traditional dial-up access. Broadband fiber-optic networks can deliver voice, data, video, and email services over the internet. A fiber-optic network sends and receives data at the speed of light. In addition to super-fast transmission speeds, a fiber-optic network can carry an extremely high amount of data. Fiber is also more reliable than other networks because it’s less susceptible to interference and damage from lightning or weather.

16 MAY 2021

But how does fiber technology work? Fiberoptic systems are made up of tiny strands of glass that carry data using light waves, resulting in much faster internet speeds and better reliability than traditional copper lines. Most internet providers use fiber in their systems but use copper lines for the final connections to the home, resulting in slower speeds. FTTH is the best, most sustainable communications choice— the gold standard. With our FTTH service, we offer “symmetrical” speeds, meaning you’ll enjoy the same high speeds whether uploading or downloading.

The Benefits Broadband availability across our cooperative’s service area will help close the digital divide between those who have access to advanced technology and those who don’t. Reliable highspeed internet access makes so many more things possible, including: • online teaching capabilities for effective distance learning • healthcare benefits such as telemedicine • work-from-home interoffice connectivity and videoconferencing capabilities to optimize productivity for professionals • quality of life improvements through enhanced communications with family and friends and endless entertainment options • economic development and growth from new businesses and booming real estate markets. With fiber internet, PIE&G members will no longer have to rely on DSL, fixed wireless, or

satellite internet to stay connected online. You will be able to stream high-definition media smoothly and quickly, have the data capacity to download and upload data such as files, photos, and videos at super-fast speeds, and have access to the latest technological advancements and applications. You will be able to run multiple devices—such as cell phones, computers, and laptops—simultaneously in your home or business without decreased download and upload speeds. There are no data caps or bandwidth throttling (intentional slowing or speeding of internet service) with our service. Plus, our fiber internet service will offer affordable monthly packages with no contracts or sudden price increases. You can trust PIE&G to deliver the same affordable, reliable service and friendly support you expect. Fiber internet from PIE&G is worth the wait. Don’t get locked into bad service by signing a contract with another provider. Follow us on Facebook for the latest information and construction updates.


MI CO-OP Community

Guest Column

Hidden Northern Michigan Treasure For All Ages By Doug Jerue


orth on M-149, 12 miles from Manistique, lies gorgeous Kitch-iti-kipi (Big Spring), Michigan’s largest spring. It’s an oval spring measuring 200 feet in diameter and is 42 feet deep with an emerald green bottom. From fissures in underlying limestone flows 16,000 gallons of crystal clear water per minute of spring water throughout the year at a constant temperature of 45 degrees, so it never freezes. In any season, it’s quite a sight to see and to take in the color of the water, huge fish, and the water bubbling up from the floor of the spring. After taking a 50-yard paved path to the shoreline, a selfoperated observation raft guides visitors to enjoy the fascinating underwater features. The state of Michigan acquired Kitch-iti-kipi in 1926. History records indicate that John I. Bellaire, owner of a Manistique Five and Dime store, fell in love with the black hole spring when he discovered it in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’s thick wilderness in the 1920s. The spring was hidden in a tangle of fallen trees, and loggers used the nearby area as a dump. Bellaire saw its potential as a public recreation spot. He could have purchased the spring and adjoining property himself. He persuaded Frank Palms of the Palms Book Land Company to sell the spring and 90 acres to the state of Michigan for $10. The property deed requires the property to be forever used as a public park, bearing Palms Book State Park’s name. The state of Michigan has since acquired adjacent land, and the park now encompasses over 300 acres. A fun fact about the fish you see in the emerald waters of Kitch-iti-kipi is that some are “retired” moms and dads to all the fish that get released from hatcheries, which we enjoy throughout the upper and lower peninsulas in our

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energy bill credit!

lakes and rivers. These are the fish hatcheries that supply millions of trout (lake, brown, rainbow and brook) to be bred and raised, and released into Michigan lakes. Kitch-itikipi is where the trout live out their days. You’ll know which fish these are, as they may have only one fin, where others have two fins. These fish are typically over 25 years old! Make Kitch-iti-kipi a stop on your next adventure, it will not disappoint. A great pure Michigan beauty for all ages to enjoy!

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published. Visit to submit.

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Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by May 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at March 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Ruth Bailey, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member who correctly identified the photo as Boekeloo Lodge, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo by Karen Farrell. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.
















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