Nov/Dec 2019 GLE

Page 1

November/December 2019


COUNTRY LINES Great Lakes Energy Cooperative

20 Years Of GLE Milestones

Capital Credit Checks Coming New Energy Optimization Rebates

The North Pole Express ALL ABOARD


You don’t have to lower the thermostat to control your heating bills. WaterFurnace geothermal systems use the clean, renewable energy in your own backyard to provide savings of up to 70% on heating, cooling and hot water. And because WaterFurnace units don’t use any fossil fuels or combustion, the EPA calls it the most environmentally friendly and cost effective way to condition our homes.2 Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer to learn how WaterFurnace is good for the environment, your budget and the feeling in your toes. YOUR LOCAL WATERFURNACE DEALERS Bad Axe B & D Htg (989) 269-5280

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691

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

Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667

Hart/Ludington Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201

Caro AllTemp Comfort, Inc. (866) 844-HEAT (4328)

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

Muskegon Kiessel Geothermal Htg & Clg (231) 747-7509

Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 Traverse City Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

visit us at WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc. 1. 30% through 2019, 26% through 2020 and 22% through 2021 2. EPA study “Space Conditioning, The Next Frontier” (Report 430-R-93-004)

In This Issue November/December 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 10


Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives FEATURED PHOTO FROM


Your photo could be featured here. michigancountrylines

Executive Editor: Casey Clark

Follow Us On Instagram!

Editor: Christine Dorr Design and Production: Karreen Bird

Come share in the splendor of rural Michigan with us

Recipe Editor: Christin McKamey 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 are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. Craig Borr is president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358


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.

@michigancountrylines michigancountrylines A crystal clear reflection of the Ore Dock in Marquette by @justin_palmer_photography

ON THE COVER All Aboard The North Pole Express! One of the few remaining steam-powered engines in the country, the Pere Marquette 1225, better known as the North Pole Express, shuttles passengers of all generations into an idyllic blast from Christmas past each December.

6 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY The Call Of The Michigan Wild

For these three friends from Escanaba, Michigan, their enthusiasm for the outdoors was their strongest bond. Emily Haines Lloyd

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Spread Holiday Cheer With Festive Cookie Recipes Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Featured Guest Chef: Enjoy this snow storm soup recipe from Kim Springsdorf, executive director of Steam Railroading Institute. Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

14 FEATURE All Aboard The North Pole Express Multiple generations of families share this unique Michigan experience. Emily Haines Lloyd

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Best of Michigan: Bakeries

Get ready to devour this member-recommended list of Michigan’s best bakeries. Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation

(Required by U.S.C. 3685) 1. Publication Title: Michigan Country Lines. 2. Publication No.: 591-710. 3. Filing date: 10/1/19. 4. Issue frequency: monthly, except August and December. 5. No. of issues published annually: 10. 6. Complete mailing address of known office of publication: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Ste. 900, Lansing, MI 48933. 7. Complete mailing address of headquarters or general business office of publisher: 201 Townsend St., Ste. 900, Lansing, MI 48933. 8. Full names and complete mailing address of publisher, editors, and executive editor: Craig Borr, Christine Dorr, Casey Clark, 201 Townsend St., Ste. 900, Lansing, MI 48933. 9. Owner: Michigan Electric Cooperative Assoc., 201 Townsend St., Ste. 900, Lansing, MI 48933. 10. Known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders owning or holding one percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities: None. 11. Tax status: Has not been changed. 12. Issue date for circulation data below: Sept. 2019. 13. Extent and nature of circulation: Avg # of copies each issue during preceding 12 mo.

Actual # of copies of single issues published nearest to filing date

A) Total No. of copies ................................ 241,500 ................... 242,882 B) Paid and requested circulation ............ 241,500 ................... 242,882 C) Total paid and requested circulation ... 241,500 ................... 242,882 D) 1) Free distribution by mail .........................188 ...........................155 2) Free distribution outside mail .................920 ...........................887 E) Total free distribution ...............................1,108 ....................... 1,042 F) Total distribution.................................. 222,141 ................... 243,924 G) Copies not distributed ..................................... 0 ...............................0 H) Total ..................................................... 222,141 ................... 243,924 I) Percent paid and/or requested circ. .........98.7% .......................99.7% 16. Publication of statement of ownership: November 2019 17. Signature and title of editor: Christine Dorr, Editor



Trust The Journey

Board of Directors

Mark Carson Chairman, District 2

Bill Scott, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO

01950 Anderson Rd., Boyne City, MI 49712 231-675-0561 •

Robert Kran Vice-Chairman, District 6 7380 N. Tuttle Rd., Free Soil, MI 49411 231-464-5889 •

Paul Schemanski Secretary, District 1 5974 Stolt Rd., Petoskey, MI 49770 231-439-9079 •

Larry Monshor Treasurer, District 4 1541 Thumm Rd., Gaylord, MI 49735 989-370-2786 •

Howard Bowersox Director, District 8 23779 8 Mile Rd., Stanwood, MI 49346 219-670-0977 •

Paul Byl Director, District 7

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”—Henry Ford


n 1999—20 years ago—some felt the merger of three smaller electric cooperatives to form Great Lakes Energy spelled the end of an era.

In fact, it marked the beginning of a spectacular journey to where Great Lakes Energy is today. It’s a journey we hope our members take as much pride in as we do. To see the high points of that journey, take a look at our timeline below. You’ll see what you would expect with any well-run business: buildings built, Continued on page 5.

9941 W. Buchanan Rd., Shelby, MI 49455 231-861-5911 •

Richard Evans Director, District 3 11195 Essex Rd., Ellsworth, MI 49729 231-883-3146 •

Dale Farrier Director, District 5

2261 Wheeler Lake Rd. NE, Kalkaska, MI 49646 231-564-0853 •

Jan. 1, 1999




• Great Lakes Energy, Top O’Michigan Electric Cooperative and Western Electric Cooperative merge to form Great Lakes Energy.

• Renovation of Boyne City headquarters completed. • First residential interconnection agreement signed with GLE member who generates wind power. • People Fund reaches $1 million in grant awards to nonprofit organizations.

John LaForge Director, District 9

7363 Walters Rd., Delton, MI 49046 269-623-2284 •

President/CEO: Bill Scott 888-485-2537

Communications Director/Editor: Lacey Matthews 231-487-1316

Boyne City Headquarters 1323 Boyne Ave., P.O. Box 70 Boyne City, MI 49712 Hours: 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. M–F Phone: 888-485-2537 Email:

To report an outage, call: 1-888-485-2537 Change of Address: 888-485-2537, ext. 8924 Great Lakes Energy is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

• New nominating process for board of director candidates adopted, with bylaws amended accordingly.



• Members no longer have to read their own meters with the deployment of our Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) system, the first in Michigan. • GLE’s power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative (WPC), signs purchase agreement with John Deere to purchase all renewable output from Harvest Wind Farm in the Thumb area. It’s the first commercial-scale wind farm in Michigan. • Clean Energy Act requiring electric and gas utilities to implement Energy Optimization (EO) programs is passed by Michigan legislature.


• Members approve formation of nine director districts. Voting procedure changes from at-large voting to requiring members to vote for a candidate in their district. • 10 kW Solar demonstration project installed at Boyne City headquarters.


• GLE lineworkers join NRECA group to bring power to remote location in Guatemala.

new projects launched, programs added and expanded, improvements in equipment and facilities, etc.

us at the forefront of supplying a necessary technology to underserved, rural areas. We’ll also be introducing new rebate programs for electric vehicles (EVs), EV charging stations and hybrid heat pump water heaters.

What may not be as clear at first glance is the human side of 20 years of growth. Every step we took, starting with the merger itself, needed more than just the financial means, the knowledge base, and the physical aspects of implementation. Each step required a commitment by our employees. It required— and STILL requires—employees to meet changes head-on without losing their individual areas’ cultures, their “family feel” toward each other across our large territory, and their ingrained dedication to putting our members first. Some of the changes challenged employees to trust a new set of leaders and step up to become new leaders themselves. They did all that.

We have grown and changed in many ways over the last 20 years and are ready to move ahead into the future in a way that continues to represent our commitment to modernization. So, in 2020 we will introduce an updated logo—a fresh, new look that will propel us into the next chapter of reliable, innovative and purpose-driven service. As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, we take pride in the fact that every venture we undertake, every person we hire, and every bit of training we provide has one goal: to provide you with reliable electric service at an affordable price. All of us at GLE do that together every day to the best of our collective ability. With a nod to our past, we move into the future with a sense of optimism and continued purposeful commitment to empowering you.

Our past success is what propels us into the next 20 years. We know it is important to constantly adjust to current trends and innovations. Our high-speed fiber internet project, with board approval, will continue to set


• New lineworker training yard constructed. • Online energy-use tracking offered to members. • Energy Optimization programs launched.


• GLE members approve becoming member-regulated. • Classroom Technology Grant project launched.



• GLE becomes active on social media with the launch of a Facebook page.

• Online account access and outage information becomes available.



• Bill Scott becomes CEO. • GLE returns $10 million in capital credit refunds to members.


• GLE attains threshold of 56% carbonfree power provided by WPC! • New GLE bills and billing system. • Fiber internet construction starts in Emmet County. • GLE helps BCHS develop its first Energy Fundamentals: Lineworker Emphasis program partnering with BCHS, Char-Em ISD, and others on curriculum and training for high schoolers. • GLE announces launch of Truestream, a fiber internet service. First subscriber is connected in November. • GLE experiences most damaging storm in cooperative history over Labor Day weekend.

• Launch of Community Solar program in partnership with WPC. • Fiber internet service pilot project approved. • GLE returns $10 million in capital credit refunds to members two years in a row!



• Great Lakes Energy to unveil a new look.

• GLE pursues expansion of Boyne City headquarters building. • Fiber internet network construction continues in Emmet County with close to 900 Truestreamers connected by the end of September.

The Call Of The

Michigan Wild By Emily Haines Lloyd


n the Midwest, hunting and fishing are more than just seasons, they are often traditions. For a group of childhood friends from Escanaba in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it’s a bit of a calling. Mike Aho, Doug Latvala, and Ben Irving grew up playing hockey together, a popular pastime in Escanaba. Aho’s and Irving’s dads also played together in a bluegrass band. However, as the three friends, now grown with families of their own, sit around over beers, their love of the outdoors is possibly their strongest bond. “It seems like everyone in the U.P. has a camp,” said Irving. “Itʻs where you go on the weekends to either hunt, fish or prepare for hunting and fishing season.” “And drink beer,” adds Latvala. The three laugh and it only takes a moment to realize that Mother Nature nurtures more than the wildlife, it nurtures lifelong friendships. How deep does the love of camp go? Latvala was born on the opening day of deer hunting season and, when his mother went into labor, someone had to head out to the

Get your own Michigan Wild hat from

woods to find Latvala’s dad. As family lore goes, dad hung out with his newborn for a few hours and actually went back out to camp. So, it's fair to say, the love goes deep. So deep, the trio still spends a great deal of time out in nature together, even though they are separated by significant distances—Latvala lives in Marquette, Aho in the Metro Detroit area, and Irving all the way out in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “The U.P. is more than a location, it’s a way of life,” said Aho. “The outdoors is ingrained into our families. Along the way, we decided to start sharing our photos and experiences on Instagram and called it Michigan Wild (@MichiganWild).” When the guys started Michigan Wild, it was simply a hashtag, but it’s caught on quickly, with more than 9,600 followers who now tag their outdoor adventures similarly. Michigan Wild isn’t a business (although you can buy a cool ball cap with their logo on it), it’s more of a movement. “I live in a cul-de-sac community,” explains Irving. “And the excitement my son has when I tell him we’re going to go on a hike is amazing. I don’t want him to lose his connection to the outdoors. I think we just want to remind people how wonderful and simple it is out there.” “Yeah, that’s it. Camp is simple,” adds Aho. “After being tied down by the grind of work, you wake up at camp, make coffee, talk a little and head out. When you come back, you’re excited to hear everyone’s stories. If someone in a neighboring camp brings in a deer, everyone goes to help. It’s basic hunter/gatherer culture and you’re reliving that. But, with a sauna.”

Photo courtesy of Jim Behymer

The guys laugh again. Each of the men makes it clear that they enjoy the hunting and utilizing the venison from deer season throughout the year, but it’s the community and sheer awe of the wilderness that keeps them connected. One look at some of their most frequent hashtags nods heavily toward that— #getoutdoors #whatgetsyououtdoors #itsinmynature. “A lot of camps are dying out,” said Latvala. “We want to make sure our kids get to have some of these experiences that have literally made us who we are. So, if we can build a little enthusiasm or interest around all the amazing things the Michigan wilderness has to offer, then that’s what we want to do.” Their big takeaway is to not be intimidated by wilderness. “Ask if you have questions,” said Latvala. “Everyone out there is happy to see other faces. Ask the group you see in the forest or ask guys like us online. We hope to encourage you to get out there and enjoy the Michigan wild.”

@michigancountrylines + @michiganwild Usher in opening day with the Michigan Wild crew. Get behindthe-scenes footage of their hunting prep and first day in the woods on the @michigancountrylines Instagram account, Nov. 14 & 15.

While the Michigan Wild guys are the first to encourage anyone to do things their own way, a few decades in the woods has taught them a tip or two.

Venison Cudighi

This spicy Italian sausage is an Upper Peninsula staple, and if you’re like the guys from Michigan Wild, you enjoy utilizing your own venison and reliving memories from deer camp. Doug Latvala shares his favorite Cudighi recipe. 5 5 2 3 1 1 1 ½

pounds venison pounds pork shoulder teaspoons black pepper tablespoons salt teaspoon cinnamon teaspoon nutmeg teaspoon allspice teaspoon clove

½ teaspoon mace ½ teaspoon ginger 1–3 teaspoon(s) red pepper flakes (depending on heat desired) 1 cup Paisano sweet red wine 1 cup water

Grind and mix pork and venison together. Hand mix all seasonings, red wine, and water ingredients with the meat mixture. Let stand in refrigerator for 24–48 hours to marinate. Package as patties, links or bulk, and freeze or use within three days. Serving suggestion: Make patties and pan fry Cudighi, melting mozzarella cheese over the top. In a separate pan, sauté green peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Warm up your favorite pizza sauce. Layer patty, sauce and vegetables on your favorite type of bun and enjoy!

• Don’t be afraid to change your tactics: keep the hunt fun. • Set yourself up so you are ready to shoot. The pain of a beautiful buck walking by without getting off a shot will sting for a while. • When using binoculars, squeeze them to the brim of your hat for more stability.

• Never pass up a deer on the first day that you’d be happy to have on the last day. • Start a deer hunting tradition with your family or friends. It keeps the momentum and the memories going. Simply planning the trip over email or text will be a little five-minute vacation in your day. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Save Energy And Money On Home Water Heating


econd only to space heating and cooling, water heating is the next largest source of energy consumption in U.S. homes. We use hot water every day for showering, doing dishes, washing clothes, and a multitude of other tasks—and the cost to heat that water adds up, especially if you have a standard electric or propane water heater. While standard electric resistance water heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase, they are costly to operate. On the other hand, heat pump water heaters cost more upfront, but provide significant savings over time. Advanced heat pump technology helps to slash electricity consumption by up to 70%. Why switch to a heat pump water heater? Heat pump water heaters are up to 3.7 times more efficient than a standard electric water heater. While they do use electricity, they use a fraction of the energy consumed by a standard electric water heater.

Additionally, heat pump water heaters provide: • Quick payback compared to standard electric (recoup the upfront cost within months with available rebates) • Electricity cost savings of 50% or more (compared to standard electric models) • Reliable hot water • Dehumidification of surrounding air • Flexible modes of operation to manage energy use and hot water output • Quiet operation Enjoy $1,200 in total rebates available for a limited time! Through the end of 2019, the Energy Optimization program is offering a rebate of $700 towards a new heat pump water heater. You may also be eligible for an additional $500 incentive through Great Lakes Energy, totaling a $1,200 rebate. Take advantage of this amazing savings opportunity while it lasts. Visit for more information or call 877-296-4319 with any questions.

Soak in the


Special offer! $1,200 total rebate available on heat pump water heaters.

▪ EFFICIENCY — Reduce energy consumption by 50% or more compared to standard electric water heaters. ▪ COST SAVINGS — A four-person household can save up to $300 a year in energy savings. ▪ QUICK PAYBACK — Recoup upfront costs in one year with rebate. | 877-296-4319 Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit

GLE Photo Contest


Most Votes On Facebook!




Ugly Christmas Sweaters 1. Holly jolly Christmas girls— Beth Fiedorowicz, Baldwin 2. A nimated ugly sweater— Tammie Budrow, Fife Lake 3. C razy Christmas sweater party— Michael Marz, Reed City 4. R ockin’ around the Christmas tree—Ronda Gilmore, Reed City 5. U gly sweater day at the office— Mary Handwerk, Petoskey


Submit Your “Around The World” Photos!

Enter to win a

Each month members can submit photos on Facebook or our website for our photo contest. The photo with the most votes is published here along with other selections.


energy bill credit!

Our November contest theme is Around The World. Photos can be submitted by November 20 to be featured in the February 2020 issue.

How To Enter:

Visit and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. Not on Facebook? You can also enter the contest at Make sure to vote and encourage others to vote for you, too. The photo receiving the most votes from our online and Facebook contest will be printed in an issue of Michigan Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. All photos printed in the magazine in 2020 will be entered to win a $200 bill credit in December 2020. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Christmas Cookies Spread holiday cheer with these festive cookie recipes. Photos by Robert Bruce Photography Recipes Submitted By MCL Readers And Tested By Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

Winning Recipe!

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies Benjamin and Jessica Bain, HomeWorks Tri-County ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened ¾ cup brown sugar ½ cup white sugar 1 egg 2 teaspoons vanilla

1¾ ¼ ½ 1 1

cups all-purpose flour teaspoon salt teaspoon baking soda cup dried cranberries cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, salt, and baking soda and mix well. Add cranberries and white chocolate chips and stir to combine. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12–15 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool slightly, then transfer to cooling racks.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at


Aunt Neenee’s Cream Cheese Cookies Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy 1 cup butter, softened 3 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 cup sugar

1 1 2½ •

egg teaspoon vanilla cups flour dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheet. In a large bowl, mix the butter, cream cheese and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir in flour and dash of salt until combined. Roll into 1-inch balls. Roll in red and green sugar. Bake 12—15 minutes.



Grandma Huhn’s Spice Cookies Sharon Hoffman, HomeWorks Tri-County

1 cup brown sugar 1 cup white sugar 1 cup lard (do not substitute oil or Crisco) 3 eggs 1 cup buttermilk 1 cup sour cream 1½ tablespoons nutmeg 1 tablespoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon allspice 1 tablespoon vanilla 1 teaspoon baking soda 2½ teaspoons baking powder 6½ cups flour

This soup recipe from Kim Springsdorf, executive director of Steam Railroading Institute, can be made with whatever yummy things you have in the refrigerator. Be creative, this is a soup that is never the same. Let it simmer and enjoy!

Cream sugars and lard together. Mix in the remaining ingredients, adding the flour last. You can place dough in floured freezer bags and freeze for two weeks to let the spices intensify, or you can immediately roll out, cut and bake at 350 degrees F for 7—10 minutes.

Snow Storm Soup

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies Mary Ellen Wynes, HomeWorks Tri-County ¾ 1 2 4 2 2 2 ½ 1

cup vegetable oil cup cocoa powder cups sugar eggs teaspoons vanilla cups flour teaspoons baking powder teaspoon salt cup confectioners sugar

Mix oil, cocoa powder and sugar. Blend in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and remaining dry ingredients. Chill overnight. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into confectioners sugar. Roll in the sugar and form into balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Do not overbake.

Savory Cherries: due December 1 Chili Cook Off: due January 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. Go to for more information and to register.

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

1 pound bacon 2 pounds ground beef, stew meat or both 1 onion, finely diced 4 ribs of celery, sliced thin 2 carrots, halved and sliced 6–8 whole garlic cloves, minced 4 cups beef broth 1 lb. potatoes, baked, cooled and diced 2 cups fresh mushrooms 1 can diced tomatoes 2 cups kidney or great northern beans 4 tablespoons flour • salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, cumin and chili powder to taste • optional: olive oil, Parmesan cheese, cream cheese and whipping cream Cook bacon and beef in soup stockpot. Set aside. Sauté vegetables in the grease, until tender. Add olive oil if needed. Add flour to vegetables and mix until thick. Slowly add broth and bring to a boil to thicken. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for approximately 3 hours——be sure to stir often. The soup is even better the next day! Add shredded Parmesan cheese, cream cheese or heavy whipping cream at the end of your cook time for a creamy finish. Serving suggestion: For individual servings, you can add toasted bread, top with cheese and put soup bowls under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese. The soup is best served with 12 inches of snow and a bonfire in the great outdoors! Read the full story about the Steam Railroading Institute on page 14, and find this recipe and others at MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


What’s Within Your Power? By Brittany Kielbasa


reat Lakes Energy members are extraordinary people making big differences in their communities— and we’re proud to support them with energy that’s extraordinary too. In 2019, Great Lakes Energy began serving members with energy that is more than 60% carbon free—and to celebrate that, we set out to see the incredible things our members do with that power.

Throughout 2019, we’ve had the privilege to share members’ stories from across Michigan. We traveled around the state to discover What’s Within Your Power to make a difference in your communities. From farms to bookmobiles, ski slopes to historical museums, Great Lakes Energy is proud to support the efforts of our members. Take a look back at some of the ways Great Lakes Energy members make a difference.

YMCA of Barry County—Hastings, MI

Otsego County Habitat for Humanity—Gaylord, MI

For children, summer can be a season of opportunity to learn and grow on their own terms. In Barry County, it can be challenging for some children to access learning opportunities. That’s why the YMCA of Barry County, in a partnership with local schools and businesses—along with support from Great Lakes Energy People Fund—joined together to create the B. Bus Mobile Library whose mission is to keep kids and families reading all summer. In their first year, the B. Bus lent more than 2,100 books to 350 children.

For more than 25 years, Otsego County Habitat for Humanity (OCHFH) has strived to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Now building its 25th home, OCHFH is bringing together more community members than ever through a partnership with Kirtland Community College and a unique educational and philanthropic opportunity for area high school students to earn valuable experience and college credits.

Bear Creek Organic Farm—Petoskey, MI

Challenge Mountain—Boyne Falls, MI

Bear Creek Organic Farm, the first USDA Certified Organic farm in Petoskey, operates 52 weeks per year to produce a wide variety of organic greens including salad greens, microgreens, leafy greens, and living herbs in addition to honey, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other organic plants. The farm’s hyper-local concentration ensures customers enjoy products that are thousands of miles fresher by delivering produce to customers as soon as possible after harvest, and thousands of miles greener from a carbon-footprint standpoint by reducing carbon emissions associated with transporting the produce.

Since 1983, Challenge Mountain has enriched, inspired, and empowered individuals with disabilities through adaptive recreational experiences and adventures. The passion and dedication of the staff and volunteers now provide nearly 2,000 adventurous experiences per year—free of charge. For Challenge Mountain, protecting Michigan’s outdoors means more than protecting beauty and splendor. It means fostering the foundation to provide hope and empowerment for individuals to challenge themselves in all-seasons—and beyond.


Vande Bunte Eggs—Martin, MI

Circle Rocking “S” Children’s Farm—Free Soil, MI

In the heart of rural west Michigan, the Vande Bunte family’s main nest nurtures two million of their operation’s 3.4 million hens to produce nearly one billion eggs per year. One of the nation’s leading egg-producing companies, the thirdgeneration family farm places top priority on animal welfare, product integrity, cost-competitiveness, and efficiency. For nearly a decade, the company has invested in significant energy efficiency improvements as an important step toward sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Circle Rocking “S” Children’s Farm in Free Soil provides free animal therapy and recreation for people with disabilities, serving more than 1,000 individuals each year from all over Western Michigan and beyond. The 40-acre farm— operated completely by volunteers and donations—features a working garden, sheep, rabbits, chickens, and year-round programming and events which has earned recognition from Ludington and Scottville Chamber’s community service awards, and the state of Michigan’s “Special Tribute Award.”

Sklarczyk Seed Farm—Johannesburg, MI

Lake County Historical Society—Baldwin, MI

Have you ever eaten a potato chip? Chances are it began as a seed potato on the Sklarczyk family farm. Recognized by the Governor’s Energy Excellence Award for their energy efficiency efforts, the Sklarczyks are seeding a low-carbon future.

The Lake County Historical Society located in Baldwin, Michigan, celebrates and preserves the rich history of Lake County and the people that live there. From books to boats and even the buildings themselves, the Lake County Historical Society showcases important pieces of the area’s history in its exhibits. Adults and children of all ages are invited to share in the history and explore artifacts detailing hundreds of years of Lake County heritage.

It’s within our power to serve members with energy that’s more than 60% carbon free. What’s Within Your Power? Friske Orchards & Farm Market—Ellsworth, MI For nearly 60 years, Friske Orchards and Farm Market have provided Michiganders with delicious fresh produce and more. Their livelihood is rooted in the earth, and that’s why they’re committed to protecting its natural resources.

To learn more about Great Lakes Energy members making a difference in their community, visit


The North Pole Express ALL ABOARD

By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Steam Railroading Institute Staff Photographers Scott Shields, Matt Churcott, George Dines and Matthew Malkiewicz


f you thought Christmas arrived by a reindeer-drawn sleigh, you haven’t felt the ground shake or seen the smiling faces of eager passengers as The North Pole Express comes chugging into the Owosso train platform outside the Steam Railroading Institute. The Pere Marquette 1225 (the North Pole Express) is one of the few steam-powered train engines in the country still operating today. Every winter it transforms into an

idyllic blast from the past as passengers have their tickets punched by a volunteer conductor. The commitment of nearly 100 volunteers per trip make it possible for passengers to experience the journey from Owosso to Ashley’s Country Christmas in Ashley, Michigan. Travelers, some wrapped up cozily in their pajamas, enjoy carol singers, card games, and if they’ve been a good girl or boy, a glimpse of Santa once they arrive in Ashley. Hot cocoa and snacks are served along with a healthy dose of nostalgia. “It gets me every time,” said Kimberly Springsdorf, executive director of Steam Railroading Institute (SRI). “Watching the faces of the passengers—multiple generations of families sharing this unique experience together, their smiles and laughter—it’s magical.” The magic that is all around today’s train travel is deeply rooted in nostalgia surrounding trains in the United States. What was once a powerhouse industry of

“Watching the faces of the passengers—multiple generations of families sharing this unique experience together, their smiles and laughter—

its’ maical. ”

building and trade has become something quaint, which is an odd word for mammoth engines like the Pere Marquette 1225, which is 16-feet high, 100-feet long and weighs over 400 tons.

A group of engineering students from Michigan State University formed the MSU Railroad Club fifty years ago with the challenge to see the engine, which was a static display on campus, run again. Their charge was taken up by the Steam Railroading Institute when the 1225 was moved to Owosso. In addition to continuing restoration of the engine, SRI strives to educate the public about steam-era railroading in Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Its focus includes the preservation of the skills and technology for maintain steam locomotives by operating steam-era equipment and providing the experience of steam locomotives in operation. The Pere Marquette 1225 stays in working condition through ticket sales from mainline excursions, special events, demonstrations, and tours, as well as individual and corporate donations. “You can’t imagine the time, effort and investment it takes to maintain 1225,” said Springsdorf. “When a part breaks on this engine, you don’t just run down to a shop. You either have to borrow it or build it. From absolutely every aspect, running this engine is a labor of love.”

Love is exactly what you see and hear from the train travelers who plan months in advance to take one of the 22 North Pole Express trips the Steam Railroading Institute offers annually. A variety of other excursions across Michigan, including fall color tours, hobo camp, and an opportunity to run the 1225, are offered by SRI. Tickets sell out quickly, but keep your eyes peeled for a Christmas miracle and a few last-minute seats that may be available. All tour dates are announced in the spring. Visit to learn more or call 989-725-9464, and fi nd them on Facebook and Instagram, too.

The Maic of

The Moies When moviemakers were producing the now iconic “The Polar Express” starring Tom Hanks, Hollywood crews took a trip to Michigan to study none other than the Pere Marquette 1225. The blueprints from 1225 were used as the prototype for “The Polar Express” and even the sounds of the chugging engine and the whistle were recorded to bring the beloved movie train to life.

Fuel Mix Report The fuel mix characteristics of Great Lakes Energy Cooperative as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ending 06/30/19.

Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used Regional average fuel mix used Your co-op’s fuel mix

Fuel Source Coal 25.67% Oil




Gas 13.33%





Nuclear 42.45%


Renewable Fuels 16.38%











Solid Waste Incineration









Great Lakes Electric Cooperative NOTICE OF OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT On Aug. 1, 2019, Great Lakes Electric Cooperative (“Great Lakes”) filed an Energy Waste Reduction Plan (“EWRP”) to comply with 2008 PA 295, as amended, MCL 460.1001, et seq., in Case No. U-20383. Any interested person may review the filed EWRP on the MPSC website under Case No. U-20383 at, at Great Lakes’ office, located at 1323 Boyne Ave., Boyne City, MI 49712, or at the office of the Commission’s Executive Secretary, 4300 W. Saginaw Hwy., Lansing, MI 48917. Written and electronic comments may be filed with the Commission and must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2019. Written comments should be sent to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909, with a copy mailed to Great Lakes. Electronic comments may be emailed to All comments should reference Case No. U-20383. Comments received in this matter will become public information, posted on the Commission’s website, and subject to disclosure. The Commission will review the EWRP together with any filed comments and provide a response indicating any revisions that should be made. If the Commission suggests revisions, Great Lakes may file a revised EWRP. A Commission order will be issued on or before the 90th day following the publication of notice.

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


co-op entrepreneurs

Regional Average Fuel Mix

SUBMIT A NOMINATION TODAY! Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh

Your Co-op

Regional Average*

Sulfur Dioxide



Carbon Dioxide



Type Of Emission/Waste

Oxides of Nitrogen High-level Nuclear Waste





*Regional average information was obtained from MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 06/30/19. Great Lakes Energy purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.

Michigan Country Lines is on the hunt for entrepreneurial movers and shakers to showcase in our March 2020 magazine. We know co-op members are awesome and there is no shortage of pioneers, innovators and leaders in our service territory. Featured entrepreneurial endeavors can be small start-ups, large operations or anything in between. If you know a friend, neighbor or coworker we should consider, nominate them by December 31 at Self-nominations are accepted.


Changes Coming To Capital Credit Refunds Who doesn’t like getting money in the mail? For the first time, GLE members with capital credit refunds of $25 and higher will receive a check in the mail starting this December, putting the money directly into YOUR hands. What about those with refunds $24.99 or less? Not to worry, they will still receive bill credits on their December bills. Capital credit refunds are the members’ share of Great Lakes Energy’s profits—a tangible benefit of membership.

Great Lakes Energy has retired


Co-op Connections Program Discontinued Effective January 1, 2020, the Co-op Connections card program will be discontinued. This program was made available through Great Lakes Energyʻs membership with Touchstone Energy, which is ending on December 31, 2019. Businesses may continue to honor discounts on their own, but health savings benefits will not be active with the card.

to members since 2003.

How Do Capital Credits Work?

Because electric co-ops operate at cost, any excess revenues, called margins, are returned to members in the form of capital credits. Your co-op tracks how much electricity you buy and how much money you pay for it throughout the year. At the end of the year, your co-op completes financial matters and determines whether there are excess revenues, called margins. Your co-op allocates the margins to members as capital credits based on the amount they spend on electricity during the year. When the co-op’s financial condition permits, your board of directors/trustees decides to retire, or pay, the capital credits. Your co-op notifies you of how and when you’ll receive your capital credits retirements.

GLE offices will be closed for the holidays on the following dates: Thanksgiving Thursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29 Christmas Tuesday, December 24 and Wednesday, December 25 New Year’s Day Wednesday, January 1, 2020 Although offices will be closed, GLE emergency staff will remain on hand to serve you in case of outages. Please call 888-485-2537 to report your outage.* From our families to yours, have a happy holiday season! *Outages cannot be reported through social media

Guess this photo and enter to win a


energy bill credit!




3 8 6


Best Bakeries Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by November 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at or send by mail to: Country Lines Mystery Photo, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Include the name on your account, address, phone number and the name of your co-op. Our Mystery Photo Contest winner from the September issue is Marlene Moreno, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Cherry Point Farm & Market in Shelby. The photo shows the arbors around the central garden and the lavender labyrinth to the outside of the arbors. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

1 2

Great Lakes Bakery and Antiques Mall, Muskegon Sandi Hillis makes the best cakes ever with all-natural ingredients and even gluten-free options (but you’d never guess!) Jennifer Sylvester, Great Lakes Energy Jamsen’s Fish Market and Bakery, Copper Harbor My favorite Michigan bakery, Jamsen’s staff are a hoot and make some of the best pastries in the Keweenaw. “Gotta have it” items include the cheddar, bacon and chive scone and the thimbleberry frosted donuts. Nathan Miller, Ontonagon REA


Boyne City Bakery, Boyne City Boyne City Bakery is the BEST French bakery, in the U.S. Each time I go into this bakery I feel like I’m stepping back into a French bakery in France from the delicious pastries and breads, to the French-speaking baker, to the polite employees, and the French-themed decor and ambiance. Go today and enjoy a “little piece of French heaven”! Evelyn Howell, Great Lakes Energy


Sunset Acres Bakery, Charlotte Heavenly angel food cakes, melt in your mouth molasses cookies, rich rhubarb squares and so much more. Everything from Sunset Acres Bakery is beyond good, it’s delicious!! Robin Musselman, HomeWorks Tri-County


Tecumseh Bread and Pastry, Tecumseh This is a bakery owned by a husband and wife team that bakes fresh each morning and mills their own flours at night. They produce wonderful coffeecakes, cookies, bread, and pies. I always take something from their store to family out of town for my “made in Michigan” gift. Carol Kruse, Midwest Energy & Communications


Goodale’s Bakery, Grayling The best quality ingredients mixed with decades of experience and served by the most helpful staff guarantees the best baked goods you’ll ever find. Alan Riegel, Great Lakes Energy



Flour Pot Bakery, Elk Rapids Flour Pot has wonderful pastries, muffins, and cookies. Around Fat Tuesday in February, they make hundreds of paczki (a filled donut) that are scrumptious! Becky Granger, Great Lakes Energy

Photo by Susan Luter



Satisfy your sweet tooth with these member-recommended bakeries throughout Michigan.

Bay Bread Co., Traverse City A husband-and-wife-owned team bakes over 40 kinds of delicious artisan loaves of bread and sweets. Stacey Wilcox, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

September 2019



Stephenson Bakery, Inc., Menominee This is a real bakery with perfect sweet creations—— awesome doughnuts and friendly, attentive staff. Brenda Gustafson, Alger Delta

Best of Michigan UP NEXT! Chocolatiers: Tell us about your favorite places for melt-in-your-mouth chocolates. Submit your favorites at under the MI Co-op Community tab by November 25, and this indulgent list will be published in the February issue.


(989) 356-2113 Hurry, 30% Federal Tax Credit 989-356-2113 decreases December 31, 2019

Did you know... you can cut your water heating cost by up to using a heat pump water heater? *

And for every $1 you spend you can get up to $3 worth of energy! *

= Plus, check out the new rebates on heat pump water heaters:

$500+$700 ** = $1,200 GLE Energy Optimization Program Rebates *For heat pump water heaters with an Energy Factor 3.0 or greater. Restrictions may apply. **Expires Dec 31, 2019

Please call 888-485-2537 ext. 8957 or email for more information.