Sept 19 HomeWorks

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September 2019


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative


A Firsthand Perspective Of Youth Tour 2019

Making Maple Syrup With Vermontville’s Blair Miller Reliable Home Phone Service From HomeWorks Connect


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In This Issue September 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 8

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives




Your photo could be featured here.


Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer

Follow Us On Instagram!

Design and Production: Karreen Bird Recipe Editor: Christin McKamey Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

Come share in the splendor of rural Michigan with us

michigancountrylines One day the sky decided it wanted to come down to earth and spend a day on the beach. #lakemichigan #whoa Really cool capture by @janomurf

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.

The 1,004-foot cargo ship, the Edwin H. Gott, is home to both long-time crew and those training as mariners. The massive freighter’s bow is pictured on the cover against the backdrop of the mighty Mackinac Bridge. Learn more about life as a cadet at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy on page 14.

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.

6 THE DRIVING FORCE: PLUG INTO ELECTRIC VEHICLES On The Road: Norm Rosema Takes Electricity For A Spin Emily Haines Lloyd

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Kick-off Tailgating Season With These Winning Recipes


ATTENTION READERS: The publisher of Michigan Country Lines magazine is working with NRECA Market Research Service, a reputable public opinion research company, to conduct a confidential survey for Michigan’s electric cooperatives. If NRECA contacts you by phone or email, please be assured they are not selling anything. The short, confidential survey will help your co-op serve you better. Thank you for your time and help with this survey.

Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Best of Michigan

14 FEATURE Life On A Freighter

UP NEXT! BAKERIES: We’re on a sweet journey to find the best bakeries in the state! Share your favorites. We will publish this member–recommended list in our November/December issue. Submit your favorites at under the MI Co-op Community tab by September 20.

Taylor Brown, courtesy of Traverse Magazine

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Best Of Michigan Crafts Beers

Pour yourself a cold one from this member-recommended list. Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!













HomeWorks’ 2019 Electric CooperativeZac Carlson, a senior at Youth Tour representatives: Cade Vallier Charlotte High School, was (left) of Portland, Zac Carlson of Charlotte, and Rylee Warchuck of Six Lakes. one of three area high school

students chosen to represent HomeWorks on this year’s National Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in June. Here, he shares his thoughts on the experience.



Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Avenue Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Avenue Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday

Zac Carlson, a senior at Charlotte High School, was one of three area high school students chosen to represent HomeWorks on this year's National Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in June. Here, he shares his thoughts on the experience.

Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395

Michigan’s Youth Tour participants meet with two of their U.S. Representatives, Bill Huizenga and Jack Bergman.

Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls) Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740 HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 Email:

Electric Cooperative Youth Tour 2019

An Unforgettable Experience

Board of Directors District 1 — John Lord Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 District 3 — Luke Pohl Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 District 6 — Ed Oplinger Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Road, Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 Editors: C harly Markwart Jayne Graham, CCC

Join us on Facebook. 4 SEPTEMBER 2019

Guest Column By Zac Carlson, Charlotte High School


his summer, I was given the opportunity to travel with 20 other Michigan high school students to Washington, D.C., to participate in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. Throughout the tour, I was able to observe some of the nation’s most noteworthy monuments, while also learning about their historical importance. Not only that, but this trip also expanded my knowledge of what a leader is, how leadership has affected the past, and what is necessary in order to become a better leader of this generation. Standing next to enormous monuments and battlefields that symbolize some of the greatest leaders in our country just goes to show how even leadership from hundreds of years ago is still relevant to this day. Viewing the Washington Monument reminded me of the leadership that supported independence and commanded the Continental Army through the American Revolution. Walking up to the Lincoln Memorial brought shivers down my spine to see the man who did whatever he could to keep a country whole instead of tearing itself apart. It was an exhilarating feeling to stand on the same steps where the “I Have a Dream” speech was given during the height of the Civil Rights movement. And, being around Capitol Hill and meeting with our members of Congress, the leaders of the present, to discuss current issues was a remarkable moment, especially since they were willing to listen to the voices of young high school students who will be the leaders of the future. Youth Tour was an unforgettable experience for me. It was a week-long adventure filled with laughing, learning, exploring, and forming friendships that I know will be lifelong. I learned so much about our history, the importance of cooperatives and how they give back to the community, and of course how to become a better leader. I thank HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association for giving me, and other Michigan students, this wonderful opportunity.

You Need A Reliable Home Phone Service. We’ve Got You Covered. You’ve probably heard about HomeWorks Connect, our high-speed fiber internet service, but did you know we offer home phone service, too? With Talk from HomeWorks Connect, you’ll enjoy crystal-clear calling from your home, and you’ll never have to worry about dropped calls again. Our wired connection is not affected by location or weather, so you’ll be able to rest assured knowing you’ll always have reliable home phone service at your fingertips. Plus, you can bundle our Talk service with HomeWorks Connect fiber internet for a $5 per month bundle discount!

• Plans start at $39.95/mo for one line • Unlimited long distance to the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean • Full-feature service

To learn more about our Talk home phone service or to sign up or pre-register, call 800-668-8413 or visit This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

The Driving Force: Plug Into Electric Vehicles

Norm Rosema and Roger Bradshaw worked together to plan Norm’s EV road trip from Michigan to California.

On the Road Norm Rosema Takes Electricity For A Spin By Emily Haines Lloyd

Norm and Donna Rosema loved taking drives together.

Not long after, a plan started piecing together.

Norm, now 82, lost his beloved wife of 57 years unexpectedly in February, 2018 in an automobile accident. The devastation of such a loss can be insurmountable, but it was perhaps that shared love of taking drives that helped Norm heal.

Friends in California had missed Donna’s memorial service, and Norm had never felt quite right about that. He began thinking of driving from his home in Fremont, Michigan, to where his friends lived in Southern California, over 2,000 miles away.

As in the case of most curative stories, family and friends can be found at the heart of each.

Planning cross-country road trips takes a certain amount of organization. Taking cross-country road trips in an electric car takes a tribe.

A friend of Norm’s, Roger Bradshaw, purchased a Chevy Bolt in 2018, replacing his previous electric car, a Chevy Volt purchased in 2012. Over the years, Roger and Norm frequently talked about electric vehicles, how they were evolving, and why Roger was hooked. “Eventually, I thought, ‘I say I care about the environment and want to reduce my carbon footprint,’” said Norm. “If that’s true, I’m either going to quit driving or do something about it.” In August 2018, Norm purchased a Chevy Bolt. 6 SEPTEMBER 2019

While dates and routes were being considered, Roger was a huge help, utilizing his experiences over the years with his electric vehicles and identifying useful resources to find charging stations along the way. Roger and Norm also took a small test run to Brighton, Michigan—about two and a half hours away. “Plug Share was a beneficial resource in finding charging stations along Norm’s planned route to California,” said Roger. “Norm did a great job of identifying dealerships that also offered charging capabilities.”

“Eventually, I thought, ‘I say I care about the environment and want to reduce my carbon footprint. If that’s true, I’m either going to quit driving or do something about it.’” —Norm Rosema

What Do EV Charging Levels Mean?

Norm set out on his trip the day after Easter in 2019, with maps, OnStar, and his friend Roger just a phone call away. Norm navigated the range anxiety (concern of running out of power without a charging station nearby) and even settled into traveling at a slightly slower speed to conserve energy. Having Roger available for quick online checks was another way that Norm felt he had his buddy in the passenger seat supporting him. Norm found dealerships very helpful and courteous—offering him their lounges and cups of coffee while his Bolt recharged. It wasn’t until a charge at Petrified Forest in the Painted Desert on his way to Flagstaff, Arizona, that Norm ran into his only challenge. After charging at a Level 2 station, with approximately 50 extra miles available on his charge, Norm experienced the effect of the altitude changes on the way to Flagstaff. Increased incline uses more power, and as Norm pulled into his reserved hotel that evening, he had very little energy left. The hotel had misinformed Norm about their charging capabilities, sending him elsewhere for a Level 2 station, which ended up being out of service. After a bit of a scavenger hunt, Norm pulled up to a final station and his car ran out of juice. He’d pulled up just far enough to plug in, but the car wouldn’t accept the charge. One tow truck later and Norm and his Bolt were at a local dealership. The serviceman on duty said they didn’t have a certified Bolt technician, but they decided to plug it into an older Volt charging station and try their luck. At first—nothing. But finally, a green flashing light indicated the car was receiving a charge. The serviceman offered to drop Norm at his hotel, as the man was heading out on a date with his wife. He then offered to swing by the dealership on his way home to check on the Bolt and give Norm an update. The following day, that same serviceman came in on his day off to meet Norm and make sure his Bolt was charged enough to make it on his next leg of the trip. “The people you meet along the way, I tell you…” said Norm. “I’ll always remember folks like that guy and Roger who made this trip a success.” Norm made it to his next stop to meet friends in Phoenix and finally to his destination in California. “There were a lot of emotions as I arrived in California—having that time to remember Donna and do some thinking and grieving,” said Norm. “There was also a total feeling of success and being so blessed. Being with friends just accentuated it all.”

Level 1—Home Charging: Level 1 charging cords are standard equipment on a new EV. Level 1 charging only requires a grounded (three-prong) 120V outlet and can add about 40 miles of range in an eight-hour overnight charge. Overnight Level 1 charging is suitable for low and medium range plug-in hybrids and all-electric battery electric vehicle drivers with low daily driving usage.

Level 2—Home and Public Charging: Level 2 charging typically requires a charging unit on a 240V circuit, like the circuit used to power a common electric clothes dryer. The charging rate depends on the vehicle’s acceptance rate and the maximum current available. With a typical 30 amp circuit, about 180 miles can be added during an eight-hour charge. Level 2 chargers are the most common public chargers, and you can find them at places like offices, grocery stores, and parking garages. Public Level 2 chargers have a standard EV connection plug that fits all current vehicles, except for Teslas, which require an adapter.

DC Fast Charging—Public Charging: DC fast charging is the fastest currently available recharging method. It can typically add 50 to 90 miles in 30 minutes, depending on the station’s power capacity and the make of EV. Courtesy of



Energy Assistance For Income Qualified Residents


e know utility bills can easily pile up for folks with limited incomes. The Energy Optimization program is here to help! If your household meets the income eligibility guidelines, you could receive FREE energy-saving products and services through Energy Optimization’s Home Energy Baseload Program. Qualified residents can obtain assistance to improve the energy performance of their homes— which will help reduce electricity use and save money on utility bills.

Energy-saving Devices And Installation One of our trained, professional contractors can visit your home to leave behind or install a variety of energy efficiency devices. You will receive information on how to get the

most out of your new gadgets, as well as tips for making simple changes to save energy at home.

Free Items Available Through The Program Include: • • • • •

LED bulbs LED night lights Smart power strip Low-flow showerhead Faucet aerators

Refrigerator Evaluation And Replacement Is your refrigerator at least 10 years old? An Energy Optimization program representative can visit your home to evaluate your refrigerator. If it is determined to be highly inefficient, you could receive a new replacement at no cost.


Eligibility Requirements To qualify for the Home Energy Baseload Program, your household must meet the following income guidelines. Gross annual income is the combined total income of all household members, before taxes.

Family Size Gross Annual Income 1 2 3 4

$24,980 $33,820 $42,660 $51,500

We know it can be difficult to keep up with energy costs. The Home Energy Baseload Program may provide income-eligible households with the following: ▪ In-home equipment evaluations ▪ Refrigerator replacements ▪ Energy-saving devices


MICHIGAN-ENERGY.ORG | 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

$60,340 $69,180 $78,020 $86,860

Note: For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $8,640 for each additional person.

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


5 6 7 8

Snap Shot 1


Sunrise, Sunset 1. Jody Strang of Vermontville reports, “We enjoyed an early October sunrise right from our backyard, looking toward the neighbor’s farm. It was spectacular for several minutes!” 2. Kevin Smith from Saint Johns shared a photo taken while heading in to work one morning. 3. Sally Culey of Lakeview captured this sunrise on Tamarack Lake in Lakeview, while she and her husband were ice fishing one January morning. 4. Dakota Lehman from Farwell, age 13, took this Snap Shot with his parent’s cell phone while on vacation in South Haven this June. 5. Lanny Reed of Portland was in front of Portland’s Knights of Columbus Hall when he saw this early morning storm coming in from the east. 6. Sue Mills from Dewitt snapped this photo of a sunset and daisies near DeWitt in June, 2011.





Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics And Deadlines “Ugly Christmas Sweaters,” Deadline: Sept. 16 (November—December issue)

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

“Take the Cake,” Deadline Oct. 16 (January 2020 issue) Go to and select Country Lines under the Electric tab to submit your photos and see additional themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River, Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

Submit Your Photos!

Contributors whose photos we publish in 2019 will be entered into a drawing. Country Lines will choose two winners for a bill credit of $100 each on their December electric bill, due in January 2020!

Watch for 2020 categories and changes to the Snap Shot program in your October issue of Country Lines! MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Tailgating Favorites Kick-off your tailgating party with these winning recipes. Photos by Robert Bruce Photography Recipes Submitted By MCL Readers And Tested By Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

Winning Recipe!

Garlic Cheese Bombs Mindy Emerson, Great Lakes Energy

1 (16-ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (non-flaky) 4 mozzarella cheese sticks (cut into 6 pieces) or 24 mini mozzarella balls 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted 1 large clove garlic, minced 3 tablespoons fresh parmesan, grated 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or 1½ teaspoons dry) ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning • kosher salt, to taste Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease two mini-muffin tins (24 muffins total) or one large baking sheet with butter/non-stick spray. Take refrigerated biscuits and cut each one in thirds, then roll each piece out until it’s ¼–¹⁄ 8 inch thick. Place one mozzarella ball on the edge of your dough strip and roll dough over the cheese until it wraps over itself. Make sure to seal any openings at the seams with your fingers. Repeat with remaining dough bombs and transfer to greased muffin tins or baking sheet. 10 SEPTEMBER 2019

In a microwaveable bowl, combine butter with minced garlic and microwave until melted (30–45 seconds). In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, garlic, parmesan, parsley, Italian seasoning, and salt, then dip cheese balls individually in the mixture, coat, and place them back in the muffin tins. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Makes 24 cheese bombs. Note: I make these a day before and refrigerate the dough until I am ready to bake right before the tailgate. I place them in an aluminum pan and cover with foil to keep them warm. Enjoy!

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

Rod’s Dog Sauce What’s more American than tailgating at a Detroit Tiger’s game while enjoying a Michigan-made Koegel’s hot dog? Well, I’ll tell you——putting my amazing dog sauce in the mix hits your tastebuds out of the park! Rod O’Connor, HomeWorks Tri-County 1 pound ground beef 3 garlic cloves, chopped 2 habanero peppers, chopped 1 medium white onion, chopped 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon black pepper 3 tablespoons chili powder 1 teaspoon cumin

1 12-ounce can Budweiser 1 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce ½ cup rinsed dark red kidney beans

Brown beef with garlic, peppers, and onion. Drain fat. Stir in dry spices; salt, pepper, chili powder, and cumin. Add beer and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a medium-low. Mix in stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir in Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes, then add the beans. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Pack in cooler and reheat in a pot on the grill.

Fresh Poppers Kris Hazeres, Alger Delta

1 large (2-pound) bag sweet mini peppers 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 1 pound package bacon, cooked and chopped (or pre-cooked bacon) 2–3 jalapeños, finely diced 1½ cups finely shredded sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese

Touchdown Cheeseball Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy 1½ cups pecans 2 (8-ounce) packages softened cream cheese 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 1½ tablespoons mayo 1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce ½ teaspoon garlic powder 1 (2.25-ounce) jar dried beef 4 green onions

Pull cream cheese out to soften. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread pecans on a baking tray and toast for 5–6 minutes. Let cool. Cream together the softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mayo, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder until light and fluffy. Chop dried beef and green onions; mix into cheese mixture. Spoon mixture into plastic wrap and form into football shape. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Chop the cooled pecans. Roll the chilled cheese ball in the toasted chopped pecans and serve with assorted crackers or veggies. It can be stored in fridge for 3–5 days or freeze before rolling in pecans.

Remove the cream cheese from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This will make it easier to mix with the other ingredients. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crispy (or use already cooked bacon). While the bacon is cooking, cut the mini peppers in half lengthwise and clean out seeds. You can also take this time to finely dice the jalapeños and shred the cheese. Once the bacon is done and cooled a bit, use a large knife to chop into small bits. In a medium to large bowl, use a spoon to mix together all of your ingredients except for the mini peppers. Use a small spoon or mini spatula to stuff the mini peppers with the mixture.

Christmas Cookies: due September 1

Comfort Food: due October 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.

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Go to for more information and to register.



Your Board In Action Meeting at Portland on June 24, your board of directors: • In a Special Open Member Meeting, opted the Cooperative into the Michigan Low Income Energy Assistance Fund for 2019-20. • Reviewed the completed District Membership Meetings and director elections, and went over plans for the Annual Meeting in August. • Learned about progress made by HomeWorks Connect in building a high-speed fiber-optic internet network.

• Reviewed restoration efforts after severe weather on July 20 caused widespread outages. • Learned about progress made by HomeWorks Connect in building a high-speed fiber-optic internet network. • Discussed and accepted Board Policy 201 – Whistleblower, with minor wording changes, and asked Cooperative counsel Dan Templin to review the policy further. • Learned there were 128 new members in June. • Acknowledged the June safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, fiber optic, or propane.

• Discussed and accepted Board Policy 102 – Functions of the board of directors, as updated. • Learned there were 113 new members in May. • Acknowledged the June safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, fiber optic, or propane.

Meeting at Blanchard on July 22, your board of directors: • Authorized staff to continue the mail ballot process for director elections with a new replacement ballot option in 2020.

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, at Blanchard, and Monday, Oct. 28, at Portland. Members who need directions to the meeting, or wish to have items considered on the board agenda, should call 517-647-7554.

People Fund Helps With Housing Needs And More Meeting July 10, the Tri-County Electric People Fund board made seven grants totaling $14,996, including: • $1,000 to Soaring Above Ionia Teen Center, for program expenses; • $2,500 to St. Mary’s St. Vincent de Paul, Charlotte, to provide utility and housing assistance; • $2,500 to a Clare County family for housing expenses; • $1,496 to an Eaton County family to help with housing expenses; • $2,500 to a Gratiot County family for housing expenses; • $2,500 to an Ingham County family for housing expenses; and • $2,500 to an Ionia County family to help with medical expenses.

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community. Write to 7973 E. Grand River Avenue, Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund tab at Note: Applications must be received by Oct. 1 for the October board meeting, or by Nov. 5 for the November meeting.


In July, the Tri-County Electric People Fund granted $1,000 to the Soaring Above Ionia Teen Center, to help pay program expenses. Here, HomeWorks’ Michelle Huhn presents the check to Soaring Above co-founder Ken Baker.

Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

June 24, 2019 Open Member Meeting

Case No. U-16596 2016 Renewable Energy Plan Annual Report Summary

The HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, at a Special Open Meeting held June 24, 2019, in accordance with P.A. 167 and P.A. 95, elected to participate in the state of Michigan’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program for 2019–2020. For specific details of any HomeWorks tariffs or fees, please call us at 1-800-562-8232 or visit our website at

Public Act 295: The Clean Renewable and Efficient Energy Act 2018 Annual Energy Waste Reduction Report HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative MPSC Case Number U-18280 During 2018, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative administered its Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) plan through the Michigan Electric Cooperative Collaborative in order to comply with PA-295. Previously, HomeWorks, through the Collaborative, submitted its EWR plan with the MPSC. This EWR plan was approved by the MPSC. The Collaborative implemented the EWR Plan during 2018. Overall, HomeWorks achieved its goal at 104% of savings. The full report can be obtained at your Cooperative’s headquarters.


co-op entrepreneurs SUBMIT A NOMINATION TODAY!

2008 PA 295, as amended, requires all Michigan electric utilities to get 10% of their power supply from renewable sources during 2018. Under this requirement, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative submits an annual report to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) regarding its Renewable Energy Plan. The annual report shows that the Cooperative met the requirement. In 2018, HomeWorks acquired a total of 54,933 renewable energy credits (12,644 credits from Harvest Wind Farm, LLC, 4,282 credits from Thunder Bay—Four Mile, 37,814 credits from Deerfield Wind Farm and 193 credits from SpartanSolar) and incentive credits from Thunder Bay-Four Mile (402) and SpartanSolar (412). All credit transfers were directed through HomeWorks’ wholesale power supplier, Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc. Wolverine will continue to generate renewable energy and bank unused renewable energy credits for future use and compliance with statutory renewable portfolio standard requirements on behalf of all of its members. A full copy of the Cooperative’s Renewable Energy Plan annual report that was filed with the MPSC is available by request at any of the Cooperative’s offices.

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.





SAIL THE STRAITS. Take in gorgeous views like this one.



Sweet Home, Vermontville By James A. Curtis


lair Miller’s life interests and experiences branch out like the maple and apple trees the retiree now tends to on his Vermontville farm.

A self-professed jack-of-all-trades, Miller began working in the computer industry at a time when components were easily interchangeable. His interest in the inner workings of things took him to the coffee industry in Chicago, where he designed machines for Starbucks, and developed his own inventions and patents. While living in Chicago, Blair and his wife, Lorraine, visited Vermontville, Michigan, and fell in love with the area’s rich history and connection to the land, leading them to buy what is now Miller Farm in 1985. “While I worked in coffee in Chicago, we’d drive back and forth 26 times a year,” said Blair. “We did this for 10 years and began building our house in 1991, where we wanted to make our transition.” Blair, now retired, makes cider from the farm’s 700-tree apple orchard, and maple syrup from the sugarbush—or 350 maple trees—in the maple forest of his property. The maple syrup tapping process begins in late winter to early spring when the temperatures must be perfect for tapping conditions.


“Some seasons are shorter or longer depending on the time to tap,” said Blair. “Taps are only good for four or five weeks. If you tap too early, they’ll heal over and not produce. If you tap too late, it goes into bud and the sap is no good.” When conditions are perfect, Blair ventures out to the sugarbush to place taps and collection buckets for the sap. During freezing nights and warm days, the clear, cool, water-like sap begins to flow. It is collected as soon as possible and transferred to an evaporator to boil the sap’s water away, where it finally becomes syrup. On average, it takes about 40 gallons of sap to create one gallon of maple syrup. “Syrup is special because it starts right at the trees,” said Blair. “The sap that comes out of the tree is already perfect, and I take great care in every step to ensure I don’t ruin the beautiful syrup God gave us.” From his sugarbush and great care, Blair yields about 100 gallons of golden maple syrup a year—which has earned blue ribbon recognition in Michigan and Vermont. Most of his Miller Farms syrup is sold locally, but he ships it as far away as California, Texas, and Florida. To Blair, his connection to nature means much more than making his product.

Left: Blair Miller’s maple syrup process begins in late winter to early spring, when he places taps and collection buckets on the 350 maple trees on his Vermontville farm.

Center: After the perfect weather conditions cause sap to flow from his trees, Blair collects the sap and transfers it to his steam evaporator to boil the water away.

Right: When the evaporation process is complete, the sap becomes syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to create one gallon of Blair’s golden maple syrup.

“I like to go to the trees and talk to them,” he said. “If I spill a bucket, or step on a branch, I apologize to them.”

environmental values and partnership on efforts like energy efficiency programs.

Blair’s love for nature stems from his adopted family and Odawa Indian influences.

“When I lived up north near the tip of the mitt, I found the cooperatives were much more attentive to processes,” he said. “I had a unique situation where I could have connected to three different utilities, but my wife and I chose the cooperative because we’ve been used to it, and it’s nice to deal with a smaller and more attentive company.”

“When I was five or six, my Odawa sister joined our family, and I grew up with a lot of her culture,” he said. “Her responses and attitudes for everything environmental—the animals, the plants, the trees—just stuck with me, and I couldn’t get enough of that.” Throughout his life, Blair has sought to experience the outdoors, from hitchhiking across Europe and canoeing all over Canada, to becoming a licensed pilot and endurance bicyclist. As president of the Thornapple Trail Association—a 43-mile trail from Grand Rapids to Rives Junction—he worked to connect Vermontville and Nashville through the Safe Routes for School Program. This effort earned him recognition in 2012 as the Michigan Environmental Council’s Grassroots Leader of the Year. Today, Blair is a consultant to the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, serves on the Ziibimijwang board of directors for its agricultural arm, and continues to live a philosophy of environmental stewardship. From the steam evaporator that makes his syrup-making process 75% more efficient, to the super-insulated post and beam home heated exclusively by a 40-gallon hot water tank, he built his Vermontville home and farm with efficiency in mind. As a member of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Blair has been grateful for the shared

Blair is also proud his cooperative works on his behalf to be a leader in carbon-free energy. Now, HomeWorks and power supplier Wolverine Power Cooperative deliver electricity to all members that is more than 60% carbon-free. “It’s very important to me because you look at the way the climate is changing, and all of our carbon footprints as individuals, we need to bring that down,” said Blair. “It’s way too high. We really need to lower ours to share with the rest of the world.” Now calling Vermontville home for more than 20 years, the Millers have truly found the sweet spot.

To learn more about Miller Farms, visit, and to learn about other HomeWorks members using their “homegrown” power for homegrown products in their communities, visit

Guess this photo and enter to win a


energy bill credit!

5 1 2 7

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by September 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 July/August issue is Lena Clor, a Thumb Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Lake Huron by the Edison Plant in Harbor Beach, Michigan. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

Best Beer




Our beautiful state boasts some of the best beer in the nation. You can’t throw a rock in Michigan without hitting a great brewery these days. Discover a new favorite craft beer, recommended by MCL readers, at these breweries around the state. Cheers!


Summer Love—Mackinaw Brewing Company, Traverse City As a northern Michigan pioneer in micro-breweries, Mackinaw Brewing Company in Traverse City has been serving up craft beers for 22 years, and during that time, brewmaster Mike Dwyer has been creating some of the finest brews in all of Michigan. I like Mike because he does a great job at pleasing beer connoisseurs with his Dark Stouts and Red Ales, as well as catering to novice drinkers, like me, with his American IPAs and Belgian Whites. My all-time favorites are his seasonal growlers of Summer Love with a hint of lemon and his Heritage Cherry Lager named in honor of the T.C. Cherry Festival Heritage Day Parade. Rumor has it he will be brewing up a fall seasonal craft named October Fest, which will be a nice multi German Amber Lager. Can’t wait… Allys Dreves, Cherryland


Lake Phantom—Ludington Bay Brewing, Ludington The best beer on the lakeshore of Lake Michigan is Lake Phantom by Ludington Bay Brewing. Mary Campbell, Great Lakes Energy


Two-Hearted—Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo The best brew is Two-Hearted by Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo. It’s also the #1 Craft Beer in the United States. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Jennifer Grosskurth, Midwest Energy & Communications


Prima Hoparina—BAD Brewing Company, Mason Go try Prima Hoparina, a double IPA, brewed and served at BAD Brewing Company in Mason. They have lots of awesome craft beer! Hilda Wittingen, Great Lakes Energy


Juicy New England Style IPA— Petoskey Brewing, Petoskey Juicy New England Style IPA from Petoskey Brewing is my favorite. It has mouthwatering citrus and tropical hop aromas. Leland Wolken, HomeWorks Tri-County


Experimental Ales—Greenbush Brewing Company, Sawyer Greenbush Brewing Company in Sawyer offers a large portfolio of house-brewed beer, including experimental Ales. Walter Maciaga, Midwest Energy & Communications.

July/August 2019 Photo by Heather Patterson



Walter Gets Buzzed—Pigeon Hill Brewing Company, Muskegon Pigeon Hill Brewing Company in Muskegon makes a tasty brew called Walter Gets Buzzed, a lighter beer with a hint of coffee taste. Linnea Miller, Great Lakes Energy

Best of Michigan UP NEXT! BAKERIES: We’re on a sweet journey to find the best bakeries in the state! Share your favorites. We will publish this member–recommended list in our November/December issue. Submit your favorites at under the MI Co-op Community tab by September 20.

Hybrid Geothermal

It Pays for Itself


Your financing cost and the cost to heat with Well-Connect is typically less than your current cost.

“Well-Connect is one of the best investments we’ve ever made. We are able to maintain our home at a warm and comfortable temperature during the cold months. Likewise, during the warmer months, the added benefit of the air conditioning keeps our home nice and cool. The best part is we are spending significantly less on our energy costs to have a more comfortable home."

- Aaron & Dawn Hamp, PIE&G Member “When I could no longer physically cut 20 cords of wood, I installed a Well-Connect. The system has met all claims and surprised me. If people are heating and cooling with propane, fuel oil, or wood and have their own well, they have a need and don't realize it. That need is to cut those heating & cooling costs by at least half (as well as emissions). As for cooling, it has cost us $9.00 to cool this month (July)!!”

- Jess Steed, Cherryland Electric Member

IT PAYS FOR ITSELF The cost to finance and heat with a Well-Connect is typically less than your current heating cost.

HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK? Well-Connect works in combination with your home’s current heating system. This hybrid approach allows almost any existing well to become a free, clean energy source for heating and cooling your home.

CALL FOR A FREE HOME VISIT 989-356-2113 Report Outages: 1-800-848-9333

All those extra fees giving you a headache?

Don’t Tri-Cou have nty Pro pa yet? As k about ne our new cu stomer special!

Our bill is simple, with no add-on fees! Auto-fill and metered service available Same great HomeWorks service!

877-574-2740 Tri-County Propane is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Tri-County PROPANE

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