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September/October 2020


COUNTRY LINES Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

Member Attendance At Annual Meeting Entirely Virtual In-Person Attendance Prohibited For Co-op Member And Employee Safety

Meet Your PIE&G Director Candidates

First Ever Virtual Annual Meeting on Oct. 23

2019 Annual Report


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Contents countrylines.com

September 2020 Vol. 40, No. 8



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird 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: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please

notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

#micoopcommunity 14 LEGACY ON THE LAKES Jim Hogan continues his family's tradition of captaining the J.W. Westcott II, a mail boat with the only floating ZIP code in the nation.

Cover Photo: Neil Schultheiss

6 ROAD TRIPPIN' Christal Frost travels to Sault Ste. Marie, the oldest city in Michigan.

18 BEST OF MICHIGAN: WINERIES For a taste of Michigan in every sip, enjoy these memberrecommended wineries for your next getaway or celebration.

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Simple, kid-friendly recipes to make family time fun.

The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.


United we stand, divided we fall. Loving these patriotic straw bales captured by @jodystrangphoto.

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

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





Up Next: Salad Night Share your favorite recipes.

Up Next: Restaurants With A View Tell us about your favorite dining location with a scenic Michigan view you can pair with the cuisine.

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

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Win a $50 bill credit!

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pieg.com /PIEGCooperative/ BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Charles Arbour, Treasurer 23899 M32 S, Hillman MI 49746 989-657-4358 • Term Expires: 2020

Allan Berg, Chairman 1117 E. Heythaler Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-0044 • Term Expires 2020 Sandy Borowicz, Secretary 5341 Carlson Rd.,Cheboygan, MI 49721 231-627-9220 • Term Expires 2021

John Brown 21 W. Devereaux Lake Rd., Indian River, MI 49749 231-625-2099 • Term Expires 2020

Meet the Director Candidates CHEBOYGAN DISTRICT John Brown, Indian River I reside in the Indian River area with my wife, Carlene. We have three children and three grandchildren. I am the owner of Brown’s Saw Mill, and I have been a member of PIE&G since the early ‘80s.

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

The electric business is a big part of our world and it influences everything we do. As a director, the issues currently being discussed are renewable energy, climate change, and what growth there is for the future of PIE&G. I believe that keeping the price of energy affordable and maintaining a reliable distribution system are important to all of us.

Brentt Lucas 15841 Carr Rd., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-3678 • Term Expires 2022

I would be honored to continue to represent the members of PIE&G.

Kurt Krajniak , Vice-Chairman 7630 Wallace Rd., Alpena, MI 49707 989-884-3037 • Term Expires 2022

Daryl Peterson P.O. Box 54, Hillman, MI 49746 989-742-3145 • Term Expires 2021 Raymond Wozniak 6737 State St., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-2498 • Term Expires 2022 President & CEO: Thomas Sobeck tsobeck@pieg.com

Communications Director/Co-op Editor: Maire Chagnon-Hazelman Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op 19831 M-68 Hwy., P.O. Box 308 Onaway, MI 49765

Business Office & Billing: 989-733-8515 Toll-Free: 800-423-6634 Gas Emergency Toll-Free: 800-655-8565 2019 CEO Annual Salary: $191,715 2019 Director Compensation Rate: • $920 per regular meeting • $270 per special meeting New memberships in 2019: • Electric—1,338 • Natural Gas—172 2019 Non-member Revenue—$134,385 PIE&G natural gas rates and charges are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission. Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Peter Redmond, Cheboygan I am a lifelong resident of Cheboygan County and currently reside in Benton Township. I’ve been married to my wife Christine for 50 years and have two grown children and one grandchild. I am a member of the Cheboygan County Waterways Commission, the Fraternal Order of Eagles #1282, the American Legion, and Ducks Unlimited. I retired from the Cheboygan Area Schools after 32 years of service. I was a certified firefighter for the city of Cheboygan for 16 years. I was elected as the Cheboygan County Commissioner and served there for 14 years, retiring as a board chairman. I’ve been a member of PIE&G since 1995. These are exciting times for the future of PIE&G and the members. It would be my privilege to be your representative.

Ned Taylor, Cheboygan A lifelong resident of Cheboygan, I’m employed by Air Bear Travel Inc. I was a bookkeeper for Wright Way Homes and was president-owner of Taylor’s Shoe Horn in Cheboygan for 11 years. After graduation from Cheboygan High School, I studied business at North Central Michigan College for two years. Gov. James Blanchard appointed me to serve as a director on the Cheboygan County Social Services Board, where I served for 12 years. I’m also a former vestry member and senior warden at St. James Episcopal Church, a former member of the Cheboygan Lions Club, and a former member and officer of the Cheboygan Jaycees. I believe I would be an asset to the co-op because of my business background and board of director experience.

MONTMORENCY DISTRICT Charles Arbour, Hillman Growing up and living in northeastern Michigan, I have been able to raise a family, start and run a small business, and serve our community in the form of public service. I have found being a director representing Montmorency County for the past three years to be challenging, informative, and interesting. I believe with what I have learned during my first term, I will be able to continue to serve and help with current and ongoing items PIE&G is and will be facing. I am very appreciative of the support I have received for the past service and am hopeful I will be elected for another term of office. Thank you for your consideration.

Donald Edwards, Atlanta I would very much like to be your representative on the PIE&G board of directors. I have devoted my life to public service and my experiences include U.S. Army (military police) 1972–1973, Michigan Army National Guard (over 20 years), Montmorency County Sheriff Dept. (over 37 years, eight years as sheriff), Atlanta School Board (eight years, six years as president), and Montmorency County Commissioner District 2: Briley Township. I’m also a member of the American Legion, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Atlanta Lions Club, Atlanta Masonic Lodge (Past Master) and the FOP. I have worked with large budgets in many of my positions including my present position as a county commissioner. It would be my privilege and honor to be your next representative. Thank you.

Chris Paffi, Lewiston As a professional for over 25 years and an active member of the community, I feel I would be an excellent candidate for the PIE&G elected director position. A graduate from the Business School at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, I have since spent most of my life in Lewiston, Michigan. I have had the pleasure of owning and operating my own business, held a position of branch manager at a local bank, and over the past five years worked as a realtor with Smith Realty Group. My community involvement includes director of the Lewiston Industrial Development Corporation, board member for Alpenfrost, board member for Veterans Day Message of Thanks luncheon, member of Albert Township Planning Commission, and treasurer, JL Little League.

PRESQUE ISLE DISTRICT Allan Berg, Rogers City I was elected to the PIE&G board in 2008, and I am a lifelong resident of Presque Isle County. I receive residential electric, seasonal electric and natural gas service from PIE&G. I believe the availability of energy and energy costs are very important in our lives. I will ensure that management is making good, efficient decisions to combat the rising cost of energy and keep it affordable for the citizens in our communities. With a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a master’s in administration, and three state licenses, I also bring over 23 years of government experience, including 13 years as Belknap Township supervisor, and work with many local townships throughout the district providing property tax administration services. Together with my work experience and education, I will bring good leadership decisions to keep PIE&G innovative and will strive to deliver low-cost energy to the membership. Warren Kowalewsky, Metz I’m a lifelong resident of Presque Isle County, and I lived in Rogers City until retirement when I moved back to the family farm in Metz. I’ve worked on dairy farms, in excavating, in logging operations, in commercial and residential plumbing, and in heating and construction. At Calcite, I was a crew leader and did millwright work, and was a supervisor for 25 years involved in milling, shipping, quarry, maintenance and operating, and the safety committee. I have a journeyman plumber’s license and a Class B CDL. I use the Internet, Facebook, iPhone, GPS and email. I’m a third-generation member of the co-op, member of St. Peter’s Church and on the church council. I believe my work experience will help me contribute to the safety and success of PIE&G. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Road ’ n i p p i Tr

With Christal Frost To Sault Ste. Marie! raveling to Sault Ste. Marie is almost like traveling back in time. Sault Ste. Marie, or as the locals say, The Soo, is the oldest city in Michigan, and the third oldest in the United States. Nestled along the shores of the St. Mary’s River, along the U.S.-Canadian border, this Upper Peninsula gem is chock-full of both history and innovation.


Mackinac Bridge

For a Lower Peninsula native like myself, any trip to the Upper Peninsula includes venturing over the Mackinac Bridge. The Mighty Mac was born from a dream to connect the two peninsulas over the Straits of Mackinac that stems from the 1880s. That dream came true, thanks to the engineering and design of David Steinman and three and

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a half years of construction, when the bridge opened to traffic on Nov. 1, 1957. The bridge has been well-traveled ever since, boasting thousands of cars crossing each year.

Goetz’s Lockview Restaurant

In 1945, a tradition was started of selling the freshest whitefish in the area. The owner of the Lockview Restaurant, along with his dishwasher, would walk across the street to the Soo Locks after breakfast every morning to catch the fish they would serve for lunch that day. The dedication paid off, and in just two years, Goetz’s Lockview Restaurant had outgrown its space, forcing the expansion of the first floor, followed by the addition of a second story less than 20 years later. The Lockview is a postcard for Sault Ste. Marie. Its


Soo Locks



Goetz’s Lockview Restaurant

commitment to serving the freshest fish is as important now as it was in 1945, and its tribute to the storied history of The Soo is on display from the wall décor to the menu. Do yourself a favor and order the Soo Locks Wrap.

Soo Locks

History: Prior to the installation of the locks, the St. Mary’s River, which connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron, was a fiercely moving river with a 21-foot drop. The rapids proved a challenge for portaging canoes until a French-Canadian based fur trading company constructed a small lock and canal large enough for its canoes to access. The original lock was destroyed in the War of 1812, leaving the river without a lock until 1855, when the state built the aptly named "State Lock." The lock and canal system helped to grow the mining production in the Western U.P. and also proved to be a valuable tool for the Civil War, as iron ore from Lake Superior was used to make Union cannons. Industry eventually demanded larger locks to accommodate bigger freighters, and several locks have been built and rebuilt since, resulting in the current system of four. The locks raise and lower vessels easily without a pumping system, relying only on the water leveling through gravity. Seeing the Locks in Action: We boarded the Nokomis on a Saturday afternoon to see the locks in action, thanks to Soo Locks Boat Tours. Traveling along the St. Mary’s canal, we were given the okay to proceed to the MacArthur Lock. Once we tied off, the gates were closed and the filling valve opened, allowing water from Lake Superior to fill the lock. The Nokomis was gently lifted 21 feet to meet the water level of Lake Superior and we continued our tour, drifting side by side with massive freighters along international waters. Looking to the future: A new lock, measuring in at 110 feet wide and 1,200 feet long (roughly the size of the Poe Lock), began phase one of construction in May at the site of the now decommissioned Sabin and Davis locks. The $922 million project will increase the lock system’s ability to accommodate large freighters and vessels, 85% of which currently utilize the Poe Lock.  The Soo locks are an inspiring reminder of human ingenuity and innovation. Be sure to put Soo Locks Boat Tours on your Michigan bucket list today!

Mackinac Bridge

Clyde’s Drive-In

When you’re in Michigan’s oldest city, it’s only appropriate to step back in time, and no visit to the Soo is complete without a stop at the original Clyde’s Drive-In. Founded in 1949 by Clyde VanDusen, Clyde’s is a casual spot with a view, right next to the Sugar Island Ferry. I’m told Clyde still owns the place and stops by every now and then to check in, and grab a “Big C”—a three-quarter-pound hamburger available with all the toppings you can handle. I went for an olive burger, onion rings and a chocolate shake that did not disappoint. Clyde’s is a good example of the pride of the Soo community—firmly planted in its roots, but always looking to the future. Whether you’re in for a day trip to Sault Ste. Marie, or you’re planning to spend a whole vacation, you’ll marvel at the combination of history and progress in Michigan’s oldest city. Christal Frost is a media personality who can be heard on Today’s Country Music-WTCM, The Christal Frost Show on NewsTalk 580-WTCM AM. She is also a feature columnist for GT Pulse on 9&10 News, published every Friday at 11 a.m.

S t. M

Clyde’s Dri ve-In


Rive r

See Sault Ste. Marie In Action

Christal Frost fi lmed her Sault Ste. Marie adventure, now available on countrylines.com. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Notice to Members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

Notice to Members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

A Special Board Meeting is set for September 22 at 9 a.m.

The Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op Board of Directors adopted the following changes to the cooperative’s electric tariffs at a Special Open Meeting held June 23, 2020, in accordance with P.A. 167.

The board of directors will consider changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its meeting on Sept. 22, 2020, to be held at the former Aurora Gas property, 7038 S. Black River Rd., Onaway, Michigan. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. and is open to all members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op by teleconference.

• Approved the 2019 Electric Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER) analysis with no changes to rates.

The following items will be discussed: • The board will establish the 2021 Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor, to be applied to the cooperative’s retail memberconsumers’ kilowatt-hour use. The Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor represents the power supply costs as established by the cooperative in conjunction with Wolverine Power Cooperative. The factor is established annually and reviewed monthly; and • Consideration of revisions to the cooperative’s billing rules. Notices of changes or additions to the cooperative’s rates or service rules shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by firstclass mail or by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date. Participation: Any interested member may participate and should contact Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op at 800-423-6634 a week in advance to request information. Comments may also be made before the meeting date by calling CEO Thomas Sobeck at 800-423-6634, or by email at tsobeck@pieg.com.

• Approved revisions to the cooperative’s Electric Rate Tariffs and Special Charges to accommodate provisions for Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI), effective Nov. 1, 2020. • Accepted 2019 Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) Factor Reconciliation net underrecovery of $199,400.87, to be collected throughout the 2020 calendar year. Notices of changes or additions to the cooperative’s rates or service rules shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by firstclass mail or by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date. For specific details of any Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op tariffs or fees, please call 1-800-423-6634 or visit our website at pieg.com.

Your Board In Action At its most recent meetings, the PIE&G Board of Directors: • Approved the 2019 Electric Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER) analysis with no changes to rates. • Approved revisions to the cooperative’s Electric Rate Tariffs and Special Charges to accommodate provisions for Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI), effective Nov. 1, 2020. • Accepted 2019 Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) Factor Reconciliation net under-recovery of $199,400.87, to be collected throughout the 2020 calendar year. • Approved participation in the Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF) for the period of Sept. 1, 2020, through Aug. 31, 2021. • Authorized staff to take all necessary steps to develop an alternative annual meeting format to include a limited in-person business meeting conducted virtually, available to the membership via live streaming technology.


• Set a special member regulation board meeting date for Sept. 22 at 9 a.m. at the former Aurora Gas property, 7038 S. Black River Rd., Onaway. • Approved the 2020 Annual Meeting notice. • Authorized CEO Sobeck to execute a deed to the property requested in the Easement to the City of Onaway. • Authorized long-term debt borrowing of up to $4 million between board meetings to facilitate cash management and allow for timely payment of invoices for the HQ and service center and the AMI system. • Affirmed support for continued exploration of the feasibility of the Fiber to the Home project. • Accepted team reports.

PIE&G’s First-Ever Virtual Annual Meeting Please Join Us!

Members may submit written questions for the Q&A portion of the virtual meeting before October 1, by placing them in our drop box (located in front of our office at 19831 M-68 Hwy., Onaway), or by mailing them to PIE&G Q&A, PO Box 721, Onaway, MI 49765.

Friday, October 23, 2020 10–11 a.m. Register for the virtual meeting by October 14 at pieg.com. Event login details will be emailed to you upon registration. If you don’t have internet access, you may call in to listen to the meeting. Dial: 1-301-715-8592 Meeting ID: 875 2366 8789 Passcode: 226617 Join us for this year’s 83rd Annual Meeting from the comfort of your home! Hear updates about the co-op’s finances, witness the results of the board of directors election, and learn more about your co-op.

Why Go Virtual? PIE&G was built and is owned by the community we serve, so we take your safety seriously. In an effort to follow good social distancing practices and to help protect co-op members from COVID-19, we have modified this year’s 83rd Annual Meeting to consist solely of a virtual business meeting without in-person attendance. This virtual Annual Meeting format was not an easy decision, but it is our responsibility to do what’s best for the membership under the circumstances. Please call PIE&G at 1-800-423-6634 if you have any questions.

Member Attendance At PIE&G’s Annual Meeting Is Entirely Virtual. In-Person Attendance Is Prohibited For The Safety of Co-op Members And Employees. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


MI CO-OP Recipes

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

KID-FRIENDLY COOKING Simple recipes to make family time fun.


KIDS’ CHICKEN NUGGETS Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy

2 1 2 6

cups finely crushed potato chips egg tablespoons milk small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½ -inch cubes ¹⁄ ³ cup butter, melted • dipping sauce of your choice

Win a


energy bill credit!



Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour potato chips into a shallow dish. Beat egg and milk together in a separate shallow dish. Dip chicken cubes in egg mixture. Press chicken into potato chips until evenly coated. Transfer coated chicken to a baking sheet. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake until chicken is no longer pink in the center and coating is golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Salad Night (Hearty Salads For Dinner) due November 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 micoopkitchen.com for more information.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos


Lianne Briggs, Great Lakes Energy 3 1 1 1

(1-pound) loaves frozen bread dough, thawed can pizza sauce bag shredded mozzarella cheese package pepperoni, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Heavily grease three bread pans and line with parchment paper. Place the thawed bread dough on a cutting board. Add the pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and chopped pepperoni. Use a French knife to cut and mix ingredients together until well combined. Divide the dough evenly among the three bread pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Bake about 45 minutes, until evenly browned. Cool in pans for approximately 20 minutes. Finish cooling on a wire rack. Serve immediately.

TRAIL MIX COOKIES Pauline Haskin 1 1 1 2 1 2 1 1 3

cup butter, softened cup brown sugar, packed cup granulated sugar eggs teaspoon vanilla cups flour teaspoon baking powder teaspoon baking soda cups trail mix (I use a mix of small nuts, raisins and M&Ms) 1½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats 1½ cups granola cereal (a mix of honey and almond goes well with the trail mix) Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; thoroughly mix. In a separate bowl, blend together flour, baking powder and soda. Add flour mixture to butter and egg mixture and mix until all is combined; do not overmix. Stir in trail mix, oats, and granola. Use a large cookie scoop (15 ⁄ 8") and shape dough into balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cookies will double in size. Bake 13–15 minutes or until edges of cookies become a light brown color. Remove from oven and wait three minutes prior to moving cookies to cooling racks. NOTE: Dough can be refrigerated and baked as needed.


Diane Johnson, Great Lakes Energy 1 chocolate cake mix with pudding (I use triple chocolate, chocolate fudge, or dark chocolate) ¹⁄ ³ cup oil 2 eggs ½ cup mini chocolate chips, optional 12 ounces Rolo candies (can use mini Reeses instead) Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, oil, and eggs. Beat with hand mixer for two to three minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. Take a small ball of dough and roll a Rolo in the middle (if batter is sticky, you can add flour to your hands, or chill batter before using). Use just enough dough to cover the Rolo. Place on parchmentcovered cookie sheet two inches apart. Bake for six to seven minutes, or until the tops have cracks in them. It is very important to leave them on the cookie sheet for two minutes before removing them. Serve immediately.



Your Co-op’s 2019 Annual Report To Our Member-Owners:

Allan Berg Chairman

Thomas Sobeck CEO

2019 was a year in which the cooperative experienced several positive developments. The plans to construct a new headquarters and service center building were finalized. We’re very excited to have begun construction in April of 2020 and look forward to the many benefits that an updated facility will afford us. We’ve also continued to develop plans for a smart grid technology deployment, which involves the use of Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI). This too will provide benefits in efficiency and member convenience. In addition, our natural gas and electric operations continue to provide positive margins. Our natural gas operating margins did require an increase in distribution rates but as energy costs were reduced, the overall impact was an actual decrease in rates. The board of directors continues its commitment to the cooperative business model as we will again this year return patronage capital to you. This year, the cooperative will return approximately $1,345,000 in the form of patronage capital retirements to the membership. The future holds exciting plans for our cooperative, including the completion of a new headquarters and service center facility, deployment of an Automated Metering Infrastructure, and our efforts to explore the feasibility of deploying Fiber to the Home (FTTH or fiber optic internet service) to the membership. We’re excited and look forward to serving your needs well into the future! On behalf of the board and our employees, we thank you for your trust and support. Respectfully, Allan Berg Chairman of the Board

Thomas Sobeck President & Chief Executive Officer

Where Your Energy Dollar Goes: 53%

Cost of Energy

26% Operations & Maintenance

19.5% Depreciation, Interest & Tax Expense


Member Capital Contribution

2019 Statistical Summary:


Active Meters . . . . . . . . 33,834 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Energy Sold. . . . . . . . . . 245,783,857 kWh. . . . . . . . . New Services. . . . . . . . . 242. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Miles of Line . . . . . . . . . 3,835 (overhead) . . . . . . . . . 1,068 (underground) 12 SEPTEMBER 2020

NATURAL GAS 12,546 11,466,624 CCF 168 869

Treasurer’s Report Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op’s Statement of Operations and Balance Sheet for the years ending December 31, 2019 and 2018 are included in this annual report. As indicated by these financial reports, the cooperative has completed another successful year. Our electric and natural gas operations continue to provide competitive energy alternatives to our members. Our independent auditor, Harris Group, has confirmed that the financial statements and records presented to them accurately reflect the financial position of the cooperative. The reports of the results of our operations are in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. It has been my distinguished pleasure to serve as treasurer for the past year. Charles Arbour, Treasurer

Statement of Operations

2018 2019

OPERATING REVENUES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $46,046,735 47,308,955 OPERATING EXPENSES Cost of Purchased Power. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25,020,082 25,188,530 Operations & Maintenance Expense. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11,607,372 12,137,035 Depreciation.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,445,463 5,212,520 Interest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,717,104 2,810,247 Taxes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,181,887 1,226,330 Total Operating Expenses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44,971,908 46,574,662 Member Capital Contribution. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,074,828 734,293 NON-OPERATING MARGINS Capital Credits—G&T and Other.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,759,758 1,451,129 Non-Operating Margins—Other. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (267,576) (94,081) NET MARGINS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,567,010 2,091,341

Balance Sheet ASSETS Total Utility Plant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159,406,503 162,780,323 Accumulated Depreciation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (70,648,602) (74,884,948) Net Utility Plant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88,757,901 87,895,375 Investments in Associated Organizations.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24,621,871 24,206,436 Cash & Cash Equivalents.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,964,539 2,959,103 Accounts Receivable.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,498,418 5,473,718 Materials & Supplies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,945,684 2,130,544 Other Assets.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 373,934 406,006 Deferred Debits. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 341,403 368,655 Total Assets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123,503,750 123,439,837 EQUITIES & LIABILITIES Margins & Equities Patronage Capital. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54,481,033 54,606,369 Other Equities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (253,082) 21,064 Total Margins & Equities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54,227,951 54,627,433 Liabilities Long-term Debt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58,272,209 56,146,573 Notes Payable. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 0 Accounts Payable. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11,003,590 12,665,831 Other Current & Accrued Liabilities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 0 Total Liabilities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69,275,799 68,812,404 TOTAL EQUITIES & LIABILITIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123,503,750 123,439,837 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13


By Emily Haines Lloyd || Photos by Neil Schultheiss


“I’m a water guy,” said Jim Hogan. “That’s who I am.” It’s not just that Hogan likes water, or has lived and worked on it most of his life. He is the fourth generation to operate the J.W. Westcott II, a mail boat and the first floating ZIP code with the U.S. Postal Service. The love of water goes back to Hogan’s great-grandfather, Captain John Ward Westcott, who founded the J.W. Westcott Company back in 1874. Back then, it was simply John rowing a small boat out to commercial ships passing through the Detroit River. He started by delivering shipping orders and updates on routes and ports. Nearly 150 years later, the vessel and the operation have grown, while never seeming too big. “Before cell phones, one place things didn’t change immediately was on the water,” said Hogan. “You wrote a letter and hoped it would get there in a week and wait for a response in another week. Boy, things have changed.”


Changed indeed. Now instead of handwritten letters and telegraphed route instructions, it’s online prescriptions, packages from Amazon and occasionally, a locally-baked pizza. The pizza started as a fun service the Westcott provided for a river tour. However, open radio channels being what they are, sailors caught wind and some have ordered up pies as their ships pass through the Port of Detroit. “While it’s sometimes crazy how much things have changed since even I started,” muses Hogan, “out here, there is still a pace that is consistent with life on the water.” Hogan started in the company’s 100th year after he graduated from high school in 1974. These days the Westcott runs 24-hour shifts, seven days a week, from the time it launches in April. The three shifts are operated by two veterans who have been with Hogan over 30 years—Sam Buchanan and Bill Redding. No two days are the same, with the possible exception of

TIME LINE 1874: John Ward Westcott founds J.W. Westcott Company off Belle Isle, using a rowboat to deliver messages to passing ships 1877: Company moves to new location at foot of Woodward Avenue, near Detroit-Windsor ferry 1910: The J.W. Westcott Company purchases the J.W. Westcott I, its first powerboat

the fresh pot of coffee put on at the beginning of each shift, as each crew swaps stories. If other ships are in the neighborhood, the fresh crew can jump right into the fray—loading, unloading and/ or delivering “mail by the pail.” This literally consists of large buckets on ropes that are raised and lowered between passing ships and the Westcott—delivering mail addressed to the individual, their ship’s name, and Marine Post Office, Detroit, Michigan 48222. Among the crew sweeping in for a shift is Captain Jimmy Hogan, Jim’s son and the fifth generation of Westcotts to work the ship. While the elder Hogan had started working right out of high school, he wanted to make sure his sons didn’t feel obligated to join the family business. “We wanted to make sure the kids did something that drove them in their lives. We didn’t want the business to feel like a burden,” he said.

For 147 years and 5 generations there is a legacy by any standards. But if Jim Hogan knows anything, it’s that life on the water is constantly ebbing and flowing. He’s found himself spending more time down at the riverfront office since April. Considering his 47th season with the business, seeing how things have changed. Seeing how things have stayed the same. Wondering, as we all do when reflecting on our lives, what it was all about. “This isn’t a ‘get rich’ business,” muses Hogan. “But I’ve come to realize that I’ve been so fortunate with the experiences I’ve had in my life. Experiences that I owe to a wild idea my great-grandfather had.” Hogan pauses like any great seaman setting up the moral of the story and says, “To be blessed by the opportunity to be associated with so many good people in my life—such a great crew. I guess I am rich.”

1948: The J. W. Westcott Company is awarded its first Highway Route Contract (HRC) as a Star Route from the United States Postal Service 1949: The J. W. Westcott Company takes possession of the M/V J. W. Westcott II, built by Paaushe Shipbuilding Company out of Erie, Pennsylvania. It is named after the son of the founder, Captain John Ward Westcott 1974: The J. W. Westcott Company celebrates a historic 100 years in business. The great-grandson of founder James M. Hogan joins the firm as a deckhand 1995: Company marks its 100th anniversary of maritime mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service and/or its contractors at the Port of Detroit 2002: James Joseph Westcott-Hogan joins the firm (the fifth generation) 2010: James M. Hogan becomes president of the firm

To learn more about the legacy of this Michigan business, visit jwwestcott.com or search for J. W. Westcott Co. on Facebook.

Need A Little Lift? W

v all need a little lift from time to time—a little pick-me-up to get through the day. The Energy Optimization program may be just what you need.

visit your home to evaluate these appliances. If they are considered highly inefficient, you could receive a new replacement at no cost.

If your household meets the income eligibility guidelines below, you could receive FREE energy-saving products and services. Qualified residents can receive expert advice and equipment to improve the energy performance of their homes—which will help reduce electricity use and save money on utility bills. You have to feel good about that!

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 may include: • • • • •

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

Refrigerator and Freezer Evaluation and Replacement Is your refrigerator or freezer at least 10 years old? An Energy Optimization program representative can

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

Family Size

Gross Annual Income

















Note: For families/households with more than eight persons, add $8,960 for each additional person.

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


FREE opportunities to save money and reduce electricity use. Based on income levels, qualified households may receive: • Energy-saving devices including LED light bulbs • Free large appliance inspections with potential replacement • Virtual or in-home consultations with COVID protocols Contact us today for program eligibility information. 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 michigan-energy.org.


Michigan’s Natural Beauty

1. Black Lake sunrise —Bryan Leach  2. The Undergrounds, Little Ocqueoc River —Nicole Hoeft  3. Full moon on July 4th —Tracie Butler  4. Rock heaven —Amie Coloff  5. A perfect evening —Diane Peterman  6. Rainbow reflection on Snyder Lake —Gloria Zalewski  7. Beautiful ballerinas on East Twin Lake —Michele Raymond  8. A group of shrooms —Steve Jackson  9. Pure Michigan —Heather Preston

Most votes on Facebook!

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!










Submit Your Favorite “Cutest Pets” Photos!

Submit your best photo and encourage your friends to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our Facebook contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. Our September theme is Cutest Pets. Photos can be submitted through September 27 to be featured in our November/December issue. To enter the contest, visit facebook.com/PIEGCooperative and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. If you’re not on Facebook, that’s okay. You can also enter the contest at pieg.com/content/ photo-contest. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2020, you will be entered to win a credit of up to $200 on your December 2020 bill. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17

MI CO-OP Community


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3 7



Tell us about your favorite dining location with a scenic Michigan view you can pair with the cuisine. Submit your favorites at countrylines.com/community by October 25, and look for it in our November/December issue.

Win a


energy bill credit!


Blustone Vineyards, Leelanau


45 North Vineyard & Winery, Lake Leelanau

This winery has spectacular views and friendly, entertaining and knowledgable staff. Corina Rybka, Cherryland blustonevineyards.com

Located on the Leelanau Peninsula, they have a beautiful tasting room and a great selection of wines and ciders. They also have their own mountain bike trails open to the public and groomed in the winter for cross-country skiing and fat bikes. Katie Yonkers, Cherryland fortyfivenorth.com



Leelanau Cellars, Omena


Crooked Vine Vineyard and Winery, Alanson


Hickory Creek Winery, Buchanan


Seasons of the North Winery, Indian River

Free wine tastings is a plus, but the views from the tasting room are breathtaking. Friendly staff and some really great Michigan wine make this a must-visit winery on the Leelanau Peninsula. Karen Snyder, Midwest Energy & Communications lwc.wine

For a taste of Michigan in every sip, enjoy these member-recommended wineries for your next getaway or celebration. Michigan wineries offer a lifetime of memories along with award-winning wines.

5 6 8

Chateau Grand Traverse, Traverse City

They offer amazing wine and charcuterie. Jay Gibson, Cherryland cgtwines.com

Best Of Michigan



The Port, Portland

So unique! This is a tasting room for Modern Craft wines, which are designed to be mixed with other drinks and beverages. You can make up your own signature cocktails. The owner is super accommodating and inviting. They have wine, cheese, special menu items and comfortable seating. Brian Hass, HomeWorks Tri-County theportmi.com

The owners Geoff and Gail are both knowledgeable and passionate about their vineyard and take great pride in educating others. A bonus is that they have so many great tasting wines too! The panoramic views from the porch are an amazing place to enjoy wine and unwind. Joelle Wilcox, Great Lakes Energy crookedvinewine.com

One of the smallest wineries in Southwest Michigan, this is a quaint place with a very wonderful staff. We have not found a wine of theirs that we have not enjoyed. The owner Adam McBride is talented in his winemaking skills and also creates a very welcoming atmosphere that makes you want to keep coming back. James Springsteen, Midwest Energy & Communications hickorycreekwinery.com

I like it best because it’s not a large operation and the wines are fantastic. With names such as Burt Lake Breeze (my favorite), Michigan Sunset, Lake House, Back Roads...just a very friendly place with very friendly people. They take the time to talk to each person and they interact with everyone. Renee Butka, Great Lakes Energy seasonsofthenorth.com

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo on the left by September 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com. July/August 2020 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Amy Fritz, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Fishtown in Leland, overlooking the Village Cheese Shanty. Photo by Karen Farrell Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.





2020 has been unpredictable, but your heating and cooling bills don’t have to be. Adding a Well-Connect locks you into lower heating and cooling bills for decades. • Heats & Cools Year-Round • Financing Available • No Noisy Outdoor A/C Unit


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HOW IT WORKS Well-Connect is a water source heat pump that is simply added to your home’s existing system. It can be integrated with your current heating and cooling methods, including propane, fuel oil or electric resistance. It is cost-effective, eco-friendly and only takes one day to install.


989.356.2113 • WellConnectGeo.com



PIE&G’s Administrative Headquarters And Member Service Center Construction is underway for PIE&G’s new administrative headquarters and member service center in Onaway. The investment demonstrates that PIE&G is committed to bolstering the local economy and the broader region of northeast Michigan. Members will also benefit from the efficiencies that come with moving operations from a deteriorating 65-year-old building to a state-of-the-art facility designed to optimize functions and better meet the needs of members in the 21st century.

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Sept. 2020 PIE&G  

Sept. 2020 PIE&G  

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