May 2023 MEC

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May 2023 MICHIGAN Midwest Energy & Communications The Hidden Cost of Appliances Strengthening Schools in Addison Summer Events Near You

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.



Allendale Htg & Clg (800) 327-1937

Bad Axe/Ubly

Cutting Edge Htg & Clg (989) 551-0986

Berrien Springs

Waterfurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667


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

Lansing Candor Mechanical (517) 920-0890

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


Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052

Michigan Center Comfort 1/Air Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500

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

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

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

Traverse City

D&W Mechanical (231) 941-1251


Cloverland: up to $4200

Great Lakes: up to $3000

Homeworks/Tri-County: up to $3000

Presque Isle: up to $2700

Cherryland: up to $2500

Thumb Electric: up to $2000

Alger Delta: up to $2000

WaterFurance is a registered trademark of WaterFurance International, Inc. ©2023 *30% through 2032, 26% through 2033 and 22% through 2034

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors.

Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

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


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


Instagram contest winner

Weathered and wonderful @lexannrebecca

(LexAnn De Weerd)


An unconventional, but life-changing, retreat helps women fish their way toward healing from breast cancer.

10 MY CO-OP KITCHEN Breakfast for Dinner: Change up your routine and delight your taste buds.


From stainless steel to EVs, Eagle Mine meets the ever-rising demand for nickel—in a sustainable and responsible way.


Reflections on Our Pond: A GLE member recalls how a tiny body of water had a huge impact on her family.

MI Co-op Community

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

Instagram Contest

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

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Chocolate due July 1. Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit to submit. Win $200 for stories published!

Mystery Photo

See details on page 18. Win a $100 bill credit!

Contents May 2023 Vol. 43, No. 5 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines


60590 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


59825 S. LaGrave Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Tecumseh Solutions Center 5050 South Occidental Hwy., Tecumseh, MI 49286

M–F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


Midwest Energy & Communications 800-492-5989



Clarence “Topper” Barth, Chairperson, Three Rivers 269-279-9233

Ben Russell, Vice Chairperson, Constantine 269-506-1590

Ron Armstrong, Secretary, Lawton 269-299-0443

John Green, Treasurer, Dowagiac 269-470-2816

Dan Bodette, Wauseon 419-337-8007

Gerry Bundle, Cassopolis 269-414-0164

Erika Escue-Cadieux, Onsted 419-346-1088

Fred Turk, Decatur 269-423-7762

Jim Wiseley, Bloomingdale 269-760-4619




Midwest Energy & Communications is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Propane Peace of Mind

When we promote our propane service, we often use the term “peace of mind.” This refers to two things:

First, we hedge our propane in advance, meaning we start securing propane about two years before it is needed, seeking out supply opportunities until we meet our goal. We determine supply based on seasonal historic temperature averages, expected customer purchases, and anticipated growth. Hedging enables us to lock in the best possible price and minimize our on-the-spot, or “spot gas,” purchases, which protects us from short-term market fluctuations. Most importantly, hedging ensures you pay the same per-gallon price for 12 months, eliminating the worry of winter price spikes.

Second, peace of mind refers to supply. By securing roughly 90% of our propane far in advance, we know we’ll have enough gas to fill tanks all season long. This is why we stopped taking on new customers for a brief period during the 2021–2022 heating season: to protect our existing customers.

May marks the beginning of our new propane season. Some of the volatility that rocked the propane market in recent years has settled, but prices aren’t what they used to be. That should not come as a surprise.

Our price for June 1, 2023–May 31, 2024, is $2.149/gal. for tanks 250 gallons and up. We’re not immune to market challenges, global events, and skyrocketing steel prices. No one is. However, we’re confident that our price will be a competitive one.

We are dedicated to our peace-of-mind promise. Our propane team will continue to work hard to secure our supplies early and for the best price possible. In fact, we’re already seeing a bit of a downturn in pricing for the 2024/2025 season.

You can even participate in a little hedging of your own with our prebuy program. Save $.10/gal. when you purchase gas in advance from May to July.

I want you to know something about MEC. Many of our employees have propane in their homes, so they understand the frustration of hidden fees, misleading firstfill prices, and supply problems. We don’t go there! We strive to be different—to go where others won’t. The price you pay in July is the price you pay in January, no matter what the market or Mother Nature throws our way. We want you to have the same propane experience we would have for ourselves.

Memorial Day

Our offices will be closed on Monday, May 29, 2023. Please report outages or pay your bill via SmartHub. We will process payments left in our dropbox on Tuesday, May 30.

4 MAY 2023

Save Paper. Save Time. Enroll in Paperless Billing.

Enroll in paperless billing and stop worrying about bills getting lost in the mail. Each month, we email a notification that your bill is ready. You can then go online to view and pay your bill or manage your account.

Go to Settings in SmartHub to sign up.

Enroll in Auto-Pay

Never have a late payment again! We’ll automatically deduct the amount due from your credit card or bank on the due date.

Sign up via your SmartHub mobile app or our website. On our website, log in and go to Bill & Pay > Auto Pay Program. Choose your account from the green drop-down menu, check the box to accept the Auto Pay Terms & Conditions, and click Update or Cancel next to your account. On the next page, ensure your info is accurate and choose I Agree, then finish any remaining steps.

On your SmartHub mobile app, log in and tap the menu button in the upper-left corner. Go to Bill & Pay > Auto Pay Program and select your account. Tap Accept to accept the Auto Pay Terms & Conditions, then finish any remaining steps.

You can also sign up via our automated phone system by calling 800-492-5989. For security reasons, our solutions agents are not able to take bank account or credit card info over the phone.

Access to Rules and Rates

Please be advised that the following information is available to Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) customers:

• Complete rate schedules;

• Clear and concise explanation of all rates that the customer may be eligible to receive;

• Assistance from MEC in determining the most appropriate rate when the customer is eligible to receive service under more than one rate;

• Clear and concise explanation of the customer’s actual energy use for each billing period during the last 12 months.

The information can be obtained by contacting MEC at 800-492-5989.

Please note: electric customers of MEC must adhere to our bylaws, which can be found at

Fuel Mix Report

The fuel mix characteristics of Midwest Energy & Communications as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ending 12/31/22.

Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used

includes landfill gas; and wind includes a long-term renewable purchase power contract in Wolverine’s mix.

Emissions And Waste Comparison

*Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/22. Midwest Energy & Communications purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.

NOTE: Biomass excludes wood; solid waste incineration
Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix Regional Average
Fuel source Your co-op’s fuel
Regional average
Coal 20.215% 33.472% Oil 0.248% 0.476% Gas 18.407% 29.441% Hydroelectric 0.518% 0.873% Nuclear 40.632% 25.901% Renewable Fuels 19.980% 9.837% Biofuel 0.316% 0.662% Biomass 0.181% 0.417% Solar 0.856% 0.766% Solid Waste Incineration 0.080% 0.011% Wind 18.341% 7.567% Wood 0.206% 0.414% Type of emission/waste lbs/MWh Your co-op Regional average* Sulfur Dioxide 0.50 0.92 Carbon Dioxide 634.8 1,061.3 Oxides of Nitrogen 0.43 0.84 High-Level Nuclear Waste 0.009 0.006 5 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
fuel mix

Casting for Recovery Michigan

An unconventional, but life-changing, retreat helps women fish their way toward healing from breast cancer

In late August, 14 women who have been afflicted with breast cancer will gather at the beautiful Barothy Lodge in Walhalla, Michigan, on the Pere Marquette River for a weekend of camaraderie, discussion, medical and psychological guidance, and, surprisingly enough, fly fishing. It’s all part of a Casting for Recovery (CfR) retreat, where participants get a few days to set aside worries about their diagnosis, doctor appointments, and fear of the future, and come away from their respite equipped with powerful tools that enable them to face challenges moving forward.

Casting for Recovery is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1996 in Vermont. It was created by a breast cancer reconstructive surgeon and a professional fly fisher, with the idea to take the healing power of nature and combine it with the casting motions of fly fishing. These motions closely mimic those that are prescribed to breast cancer patients after radiation or surgery to help them increase mobility in the arms and upper body.

Karen O’Briant, the co-coordinator of the CfR Michigan program, and a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member, came upon the organization in an unfortunate manner—she

was diagnosed with breast cancer herself in 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic. “Normally, when you go through chemo, you can take someone with you for support,” she said. “But I had to go through it by myself.” O’Briant, who said she was not big on support groups at the time, found herself looking for some comfort. One day in her surgeon’s office, she was discussing her hobby of fly fishing with a nurse, and the nurse told her there was a group that offered a fly fishing retreat for breast cancer patients. After investigating and discovering CfR, O’Briant applied for the 2021 retreat and got in as an alternate. The experience meant so much to her that she jumped at the chance to work for the organization, where she now helps arrange and fundraise for the annual retreat.

CfR retreats run for two and a half days. They are totally free for the women in attendance, who are chosen through a drawing of applicant names, and all of the fishing equipment, food, and lodging is provided. The guided fly fishing excursion occurs on the last day of the retreat. In preparation for that, the women learn about things like tying fishing knots, casting, bugs they’ll find on the water, the flow of the river, etc. When not in educational sessions, the women participate in discussions with each other and

6 MAY 2023

the volunteer medical and psychological facilitators. The conversations help in two ways—the women get to talk about their own experiences and feel the catharsis that comes with opening up, while also benefitting from hearing the stories of people who are going through the same thing they are. Reflecting on her own experience, O’Briant said, “We all laughed and cried. I hadn’t really been able to talk to others about it because they didn’t understand. The emotions you go through are healing, and you can find inspiration and hope from the other women. I’ve made lifelong friends.” After two days of learning, talking, and eating the meals provided by the Pere Marquette Bistro in Reed City—which O’Briant says is amazing—the women are ready to hit the river. Each participant pairs up with one of the volunteer river helpers, who are all experienced anglers, and the groups are assigned to particular stations (with accommodations given to those who need them). Whether they catch anything or not, the experience is transformative. “It’s so tranquil just being there and listening to the water,” O’Briant said. The day concludes with a lunch and a graduation ceremony, where women take pictures with their helpers, and receive a certificate and a lanyard.

CfR is still accepting applications for this year’s retreat. O’Briant said she strongly recommends that you apply if you are a woman who has or has had breast cancer. “There is no experience like it,” she said. “It totally changed my outlook on cancer and treatments, and it gave me hope for the future.”


• Retreats are appropriate for women in all stages of treatment and recovery, and are open to women of all ages.

• There are 40+ retreats nationwide, and CfR has inspired similar programs in six countries outside the U.S.

• To date, CfR has helped over 10,000 women with breast cancer.

CfR relies on the support of more than 1,800 volunteers nationwide, including medical and psychosocial professionals, fly fishing instructors, and alumnae. It also relies heavily on fundraising. If you would like to donate money or your time, visit and click on “Ways to Help.”

Support the Michigan program by directing your donation to the secure online form at and choose Michigan or use this QR code.

“ We all laughed and cried. I hadn’t really been able to talk to others about it because they didn’t understand. The emotions you go through are healing, and you can find inspiration and hope from the other women. I’ve made lifelong friends.”

What’s On An Electric Pole?

This illustration shows the basic equipment on our distribution poles. Keep in mind that the exact equipment varies based on the pole's location and what purpose it serves in the electric grid (for more on how the grid works, check out

1. Pole – Range in size but are always buried six feet underground.

2. Guy Wires – Help stabilize poles and are connected to the pole's ground wire.

3. Ground Wire – Runs along the pole and connects to the neutral wire. Safely directs electricity from lightning to the ground.

4. Pole Information Tags – Provide us with the exact location of the pole and attached equipment.

5. Crossarm – Holds powerlines above the ground and apart from each other.

6. Primary Wires – Run on top of the pole, each carrying 7,200 volts of electricity from a substation.

7. Transformer – Converts electricity from primary wires to a lower voltage of 120/240, getting it ready to bring into your home.

8. Secondary Service Drop –Carries 120/240 volts of electricity into your home.

9. Neutral Wire – Goes back to the substation and balances out the amount of electricity on the system.

10. Insulators – Prevent energized wires from touching each other or the pole.

11. Cutouts – Open when there's a problem on the line, breaking the flow of electricity like a fuse to prevent further damage to the system.

12. Surge Arresters – Protect the transformer from lightning strikes.

13. Lowest Wires – Typically carry telephone, cable TV, and fiber internet signals.

8 MAY 2023

Strengthening Schools

Creating Bookworms at Addison Elementary

Would you read more if buying a new book was as easy as grabbing a snack from a vending machine?

That’s the idea behind Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machines—and Addison Elementary School students are putting it to the test thanks in part to a Strengthening Schools Grant from MEC, funded by our power supplier Wolverine Power Cooperative.

Addison Elementary Principal Angie Huston first discovered the vending machines online. She immediately thought of the potential benefit to Addison students.

“I’m a big believer in making sure all students have access to books, not just for loan but for personal possession,” Huston said.

A 2019 survey conducted by the National Literacy Trust, a United Kingdom charity promoting literacy, indicated that children who own books are around six times as likely to read above their expected grade

level compared with peers who don’t own books, regardless of education level or socioeconomic background. While Addison students have access to a free book library, Huston said this research illustrates the importance of ownership.

Huston contacted Global Vending Group, the manufacturers of the machines, and got a price. At the same time, she just so happened to get an email from us about our Strengthening Schools Grants. The rest is history.

At the end of each month, each teacher selects a “superstar reader” to earn a gold vending machine token. Students are chosen based on their drive to read, as well as their respect for the classroom library, regardless of their expected reading level. With tokens in hand, the students choose their books, which they get to take home and keep. Earning books in this way lets students take pride in their reading efforts. By the end of the year, the goal is to give every student at least one opportunity to choose a book.

Huston said in addition to the vending machine, Addison Elementary is working to give students other incentives to read. One of these is a summer reading program similar to Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT! Program. Students are encouraged to read for at least 20 minutes a day, with the opportunity to earn a reward at the end of the summer. Huston was considering additional future incentives.

Several different organizations supported the purchase of Addison Elementary’s book vending machine, including the Lions Club, the parentteacher organization, and MEC’s Strengthening Schools Grant. Applications are currently open for the 2023–2024 Strengthening Schools Grant cycle. Any teacher, administrator, or school official in a public elementary, middle, or high school serving students in our electric service territory may apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to support classroom needs, technology, or academic projects, club, and organizations.

Visit strengthening-schools to learn more.
Principal Huston, right, cuts the ribbon on Addison Elementary's new book vending machine.


Fun to eat morning and night.

Recipe Contest

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

Chocolate recipes due July 1

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


Ann Utter, Presque Isle

1 pound mild pork sausage (or substitute w/ small cubes of cooked ham)

12 eggs

2 cups (16 ounces) small curd cottage cheese

3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Monterey

Jack cheese (or pepper jack cheese)

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup all-purpose flour (or gluten free)

½ cup butter or margarine, melted

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms, optional

¾ cup onion, finely chopped

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained

• grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage (if using) until no longer pink; drain. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, cheeses, flour, butter, and baking powder. Stir in mushrooms, onion, chilies, and sausage (or ham). Transfer to two greased 9-inch round baking dishes (dishes will be quite full). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Makes two quiches (6–8 servings each). Divide recipe ingredients in half to make one quiche.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

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


Janet Cather, Midwest Energy

1 pound ground pork, browned (I use chorizo, but you can use plain/ Italian too)

2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheddar cheese, divided

1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, drained

8 (8-inch) flour tortillas (I use whole wheat)

6 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup unsweetened milk of choice (I use unsweetened soy milk)

1 tablespoon flour

• favorite jarred salsa

• diced green onions, for topping, optional

Optional Serving Sides:

• sour cream

• hash browns/tater tots

• Mexican street corn

• additional salsa

Spray 9x13 metal pan with cooking spray (if using glass, cooking time may vary).

Combine browned sausage with 1 cup cheese and diced green chiles. Place ¹⁄ 8

(around ½ cup+) of the mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish. In another large bowl, whisk/beat the eggs, heavy cream, milk, and flour (note: it’s best to first shake the flour with a portion of the milk in a small lidded container, around 4 ounces, to ensure the flour is blended in). Pour egg mixture evenly over the tortillas in the pan. Cover the dish and place in fridge for 6+ hours (this allows the tortillas time to absorb the egg mixture and prevent it from being too runny). Preheat the oven to 350 F when ready to bake. Remove cover from the dish and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheese over the tortillas. Bake covered with foil for 40–45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10–15 minutes. Remove dish from oven and spread as much salsa as you want on top of the tortillas. You can add the diced green onions at this point too. Serve with remaining salsa along with any other chosen sides. Enjoy! Note: I prep this recipe around 10 a.m. for a 7 p.m. dinner. Or, you can prep the night before for a hearty breakfast.


Deanne Quain, Great Lakes Energy

1 (13.8-ounce) tube refrigerated pizza crust

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

6 large eggs

2 tablespoons water

6–8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F. Unroll and press dough onto the bottom and ½ inch up

the sides of a 15x10x1-inch pan. Prick thoroughly with a fork, then brush with 1 tablespoon oil. Bake until lightly browned, 7–8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk egg and water. In a nonstick skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add eggs and scramble over medium heat until thickened, slowly moving the eggs around until softly scrambled and fluffy. Spoon over crust and sprinkle with bacon and cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5–7 minutes.


Jack Schonert, Great Lakes Energy

1 pound bacon, divided

1 pound ground sausage, divided

1 (8-count) can biscuits

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 cups grated cheese, divided

6 eggs

3¹⁄ ³ cups milk, divided

¹⁄ 8 teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup flour

¹⁄ 8 -¼ teaspoon salt

¹⁄ 8 -¼ teaspoon black pepper

• Optional: mushrooms, diced red or green bell pepper, red pepper


Preheat oven to 350 F. Fry the bacon and sausage; drain grease. Cut or crumble the

bacon into pieces and place both together back into a big frying pan or saucepan. Grease sides and bottom of 9x13 pan. Cut biscuits into quarters and place in bottom of the pan. Layer a quarter of both the bacon and sausage over the biscuits; sprinkle with onion and 1 cup cheese. Whisk eggs in a bowl; stir in ¹⁄ ³ cup milk and nutmeg. Pour evenly over the biscuits. To the remaining ¾ of sausage and bacon, add flour, salt, and pepper (and optional ingredients), and remaining 3 cups milk. Cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened. Pour over biscuits and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake for 45 minutes.


Summer 2023 Fairs and Events


6/30 to 7/8 St. Joseph County 4-H Fair

South Bend, IN

7/8 to 7/15 LaGrange County 4-H Fair

LaGrange, IN

7/21 to 7/29 Elkhart County 4-H Fair

Goshen, IN


9/1 to 9/7 Fulton County Fair

Wauseon, OH

9/9 to 9/16 Williams County Fair

Montpelier, OH


6/2 to 6/3 Cassopolis Beach Bash

Cassopolis, MI

6/3, 7/15, Lake Bluff Artisan Fair

8/19, 9/2

St. Joseph, MI

7/4 Berrien Springs Pickle Festival

Berrien Springs, MI

7/8 Lake Breeze Music Festival

St. Joseph, MI

7/14 to 7/15 Dowagiac Summer Festival

Dowagiac, MI

7/15, 8/12, Rock the Block Summer Concert Series

9/9, 10/7

Cassopolis, MI

8/10 to 8/13 National Blueberry Festival

South Haven, MI

8/18 to 8/19

9/8 to 9/10

Bluegill Frolic

Marcellus, MI

Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival

Paw Paw, MI


6/17 Devils Lake Festival of the Arts

Manitou Beach, MI

6/17 to 6/18 Great Lakes Woodworking Festival

Adrian, MI

7/13 to 7/15 River Raisin Festival

Blissfield, MI

7/14 to 7/16 Faster Horses

Brooklyn, MI

7/20 to 7/22 Ann Arbor Art Fair

Ann Arbor, MI

8/12 to 8/13

9/16 to 9/17


7/17 to 7/22 Barry County Fair

Hastings, MI

7/17 to 7/22 Van Buren Youth Fair*

Hartford, MI

7/23 to 7/29 Lenawee County Fair*

Adrian, MI

7/30 to 8/5 Cass County Fair*

Cassopolis, MI

8/8 to 8/12 Kalamazoo County Youth Fair

Kalamazoo, MI

Thunder Over Michigan Air Show

Ypsilanti, MI

Artalicious Fine Arts Fair

Adrian, MI

9/22 to 9/24 Clinton Fall Festival

Clinton, MI

8/14 to 8/19 Berrien County Youth Fair*

Berrien Springs, MI

9/8 to 9/16 Allegan County Fair

Allegan, MI

9/17 to 9/23 St. Joseph County Grange Fair*

Centreville, MI

for something to do this summer? Check out these annual events in and near our electric service areas!
staffing a booth at the fairs in red. Come talk to us!
12 MAY 2023


High Schoolers Get a Taste of Co-op Life

Six high schoolers took a tour of our headquarters in Cassopolis on Friday, March 17.

The group started the day with presentations on the history of cooperatives and the importance of the work we do here. They then had the opportunity to walk through the building and meet with several of our coworkers from various departments, learning about the many potential careers at MEC and in the industry.

From the group, we chose two students to represent MEC on this summer’s Youth Tour trip to Washington, D.C.: Amy, a homeschool senior, and Abbey, a Dowagiac Union High School senior. Amy and Abbey will have the opportunity to visit several national historical sites and potentially meet with local representatives.

Youth Tour is a National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) event and is attended by students from across America, giving them a chance to engage with our nation’s history and political process firsthand.

MEC Presents at School Career Days

We gave Career Day presentations at both Dowagiac Middle School and Cassopolis Middle School this year.

In Cass, Marty and Patty spoke about their respective roles as a lineman and community relations specialist. In Dowagiac, Evan and Justin talked about life as a lineman, while Morgan and Amy shared what it takes to be a graphic designer.

Kids at both schools learned what each position entails, the education pathways involved, and how each role serves the needs of an electric cooperative like MEC. Students had a chance to ask questions and even try on some safety gear.

Look forward to our June issue for more career fair activities!

Amy (left) and Morgan (right) at Dowagiac Middle School Career Day Six local high schoolers take a tour of MEC Justin at Dowagiac Middle School Career Day Marty at Cassopolis Middle School Career Day
A student gets hands-on at Dowagiac Middle School Career Day


Not many business models begin with an ending in mind. But that’s how Eagle Mine in western Marquette County started its business activity.

“With the last 10 years or so, that’s what sustainable mining means,” said External Communications Manager Matt Johnson of Lundin Mining Co., which owns Eagle Mine. “You design a mine for closure. Before you even open, you have to prepare to close it responsibly.”

Eagle Mine is the only active nickel mine in the United States right now, with a concentration on unearthing an ore body that hopes to produce enough nickel to meet the ever-rising global demand.

Nickel doesn’t have the same cachet as gold and silver, but it is an absolute necessity in the production of things like stainless steel products. Consider your favorite kitchen upgrade with a stainless refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher. Each of those appliances benefits from the antimicrobial, anti-rust, and anti-corrosion attributes of stainless steel, but the nickel makes them even stronger and more resistant to wear and tear.

In fact, there is an even greater demand for nickel these days as we see energy-efficient electric vehicles hitting the scene. Nickel is a mineral that helps increase energy storage in lithium-ion batteries, boosting the range electric cars can drive on a single charge.

14 MAY 2023

“At this point in our country’s production history, we need minerals, and those minerals need to be mined. But we’re going to make sure it’s done sustainably, responsibly, and transparently.”

“There is no electric vehicle battery without nickel,” notes Johnson. “In 2017, about 3% of nickel went into the EV industry. In the next 10 years, we’re looking at closer to 40%.”

It’s a complex cycle of electric vehicles helping to reduce emissions and the impact on the climate, and encouraging additional production of environmentally friendly cars. However, mining is at the heart of that production stream. While nickel could be mined and purchased from other countries, many of them have much looser rules and guidelines regulating them. There are big benefits to having a U.S.-based mine that holds itself to the highest environmental and social standards.

“Part of our company’s mission is to fund and partner with groups to delve deeper into the research, create bestpractice critical material development, and create a new stream for critical minerals for batteries,” said Johnson. “The increased demand for nickel is nearly 100 times what it was just a decade ago. So, we need to increase our level of responsibility to make sure we are helping to solve problems, not create more.”

Eagle Mine has developed many relationships to help create better systems for solving those problems. They’ve partnered with Michigan Technological University to develop new research technologies that create sustainable processes in order to supply critical minerals for battery manufacturing, as well as to make a concentrated effort to improve battery recycling. These efforts are necessary, but are also just the beginning to meet the ever-increasing demand for metal in new products and technologies.

“We are leaders in mining best practices,” said Johnson. “We need to balance meeting the demand with making sure our impact is as limited as possible.”

While Eagle Mine is identifying the environmental impacts, they also concern themselves with community impact. They hold local forums every six months to engage in folks’ questions and concerns and ensure they are responding in kind.

“Constructive dialogue is critical to what we do. We don’t have all the answers, because we can’t know all the questions. We listen and respond seriously to the community,” said Johnson. “We don’t just have a responsibility to the community while the mine is open, we need to make sure we don’t have a negative impact once it closes as well.”

Right now it looks like the mine could close sometime in the next four years, unless bigger ore stores are discovered. For now, Eagle Mine is keeping the nickel coming with the help of their nearly 400 employees to meet the needs of the electric vehicle industry and cleaner transportation.

“At this point in our country’s production history, we need minerals, and those minerals need to be mined,” said Johnson. “But we’re going to make sure it’s done sustainably, responsibly, and transparently.”

For more information:


Kids Question MEC Experts

In our new Kids Question MEC Experts campaign, MEC employees are answering their kidsʼ questions about their jobs, MECʼs services, and more. You'll also spot some of these adorable junior MECʼers on billboards, in Country Lines, on Facebook (@TeamMidwest), and on Instagram (@team_midwest).

Our first kid, Chase, is shown below. Heʼs the son of Safety Ace Evan, who you might recognize from our Safety Smarts videos on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Every month, Evan talks about different safety topics like choosing the right fire extinguisher, preparing an outage kit, and checking your CO2 detectors.

Watch Chase ask his dad about 811 utility flags on our YouTube channel:

You can also watch more Kids Question MEC Experts, Safety Smarts, and Tech Talk videos.

@TeamMidwest @team_midwest /teammidwest1
Kids say the darndest things! They have questions, and their parents have answers.


The Midwest Energy & Communications Board of Directors adopted the following changes to the cooperative’s tariffs at a special Board Meeting on April 14, 2023, in accordance with Public Act 167 (P.A. 167).

• An increase of $0.008847 per kWh in the Variable Distribution Charge across all rate classifications.

These unapproved minutes are published in accordance with P.A. 167 of 2008.

Curious what your bill will look like?

Take a look at the example below, which is based on a residential customer who uses 1,000 kWh in a month.

Current Rate Rate Effective July 2023 Rate Schedule Rate Amount Rate Amount Monthly Service Charge $45.00 $45.00 $45.00 $45.00 Distribution Charge $0.039750/kWh $39.75 $0.048597/kWh $48.60 Energy Charge $0.078500/kWh $78.50 $0.078500/kWh $78.50 Power Cost Adjustment* $0.013700/kWh $13.70 $0.013700/kWh $13.70 Tax & Low-Income Charge $7.98 $8.41 Total Bill $184.93 $194.21 *Subject to change based on market conditions. 17 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

Reflections On Our Pond

Our 24-year-old son came over today with youthful enthusiasm and energy, claiming he would get the pond ready to skate on. Last year, to my delight, he and his girlfriend (now his wife) did the same thing.

Why is this a moment? It blesses me to my core. For over 20 years, my husband and I spent many winter afternoons using shovels to clear the pond so the kids could skate after school. It became my aerobic exercise for the day. What a treat it was to have our little sanctuary of winter fun, and now as we approach our senior years, our youngest son is taking it over and continuing the tradition—albeit in a different manner. Rather than shoveling, he tows the snowblower, mounted on the snow scoop, and pulls them both behind the snowmobile to take down to the pond. After removing the snow, he cuts a hole in the pond and spreads a fresh sheen of ice over its entirety with fivegallon buckets.

That pond has such precious memories. The children and I have had picnics on its shore in the spring before the mosquitoes hatch. One Father’s Day, we spent the day crafting a log raft. We have “fished” for leaves in the surrounding swamp. There have been turtle-catching days, especially for the elusive old man snapper. There was even a campout that my husband had with the two older boys in a tent on the pond’s shore while spring peepers and bullfrogs hammered in their ears. He didn’t get any sleep that night.

Many children have shared the joys of our little slice of nature as the kids have brought friends to share in the fun. My oldest son had the “best night of his life” and the “worst night of his life” on that pond within a span of 20 minutes. What started as an exciting night of potential hockey with brooms and a block of wood for a puck was quickly terminated shortly after we stepped onto the ice. Not only were we going to skate by the light of the moon, but stepping onto the ice made the loudest crack I’d ever heard. Images of being swallowed up in the dark, murky water took over my mind and ended our adventure—Ahh— the disappointments of youth.

Mystery Photo

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

There have even been a few magical winters when the swamp froze along with the pond. My daughter and youngest son would skate with me throughout the woods, circling trees and bushes in what felt like a magical fairyland. My husband and I bought this 12-acre parcel 25 years ago. That pond and its surrounding swamp have been our little escape from the world’s hubbub. It has felt like our own special ecosystem that has welcomed various birds and wildlife and given us a peaceful reminder of the beauty of God’s creation. The kids have all grown and have homes of their own now, but the memories remain. And now it’s time for me to go as my youngest has returned with the announcement, “The pond’s ready to skate on, Ma.” Let me grab my skates and head on down!

About The Author: Kathy is a retired physical therapist. She enjoys many outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, camping, birdwatching, and cross-country skiing with her husband and friends. She and her husband are beginning the grandparent stage of their lives with two beautiful granddaughters.

Guest Column

Win $200 for stories published!

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

Where In Michigan Is This?

Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by May 24 and be entered into a drawing to win a $100 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at

March 2023 Winner!

Our Mystery Photo winner is Brian Soop, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the Belle Isle Conservatory in Detroit. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/ August, September, and November/December.

MI CO-OP Guest Column


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

• If you have a well and are heating with propane, fuel oil, electric or wood, your current heating and cooling cost is likely greater than it would be to fully finance and heat & cool with a Well-Connect.

•Installs in one day, any time of year. No drilling or excavation is required.



Geother mal Made Affordable
Financing, 30% tax credit, and rebates up to $2,000 available. SCAN HERE TO SCHEDULE A PHONE CALL 1-833-GEOWELL ENJOY YEAR-ROUND COMFORT HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK?
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