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BOUNDLESS community investment report | 2011-2012


2011 recipients of Minnesota Power Community Involvement and New Generation scholarships

Dear friends, We live in a world of endless possibilities. The daily choices we make individually and collectively have the potential to spark change and energize our region. Boundless: Minnesota Power’s 2011-2012 Community

Investment Report celebrates that reality. The people and partners you will read about in this booklet demonstrate boundless new energy in advancing our corporate values. Each and every day, our employees and stakeholders share their skills, knowledge and resources to make a positive difference in the communities where they live and work. They exemplify responsible and wise use of natural resources. They cultivate work environments that are safe, stimulating and steeped in integrity. At ALLETE; Minnesota Power; Superior Water, Light & Power (SWL&P); and BNI Coal, we draw our strength from this new energy. We are proud to recognize the women and men who express it every day with boundless enthusiasm, initiative and generosity. They inspire all of us to make the world a better place. Sincerely,

Al Hodnik Chairman, President and CEO, ALLETE

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United Way 20%

2011 Community Investments $1,327,247

Corporate Grants 8.6% ip orsh ons p S nt .4% 9 Eve Human Services 14%

Education 25%

Community Enrichment 23%

GIVING MAKES LIFE BRIGHTER Boundless enthusiasm. It shines through in the work done by the Minnesota Power Foundation on behalf of Minnesota Power and other ALLETE companies. Each year, the Foundation distributes hundreds of thousands of dollars to qualified organizations and individuals in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota that share its priorities—education, community enrichment and human services. The Minnesota Power Foundation’s grants and educational programs benefit customers and communities served by Minnesota Power; Superior Water, Light & Power (SWL&P); and BNI Coal. It also offers Community Involvement Scholarships for high school students that demonstrate outstanding volunteerism and New Generation Scholarships for college students in fields that match the region’s workforce needs. These activities along with Minnesota Power’s corporate contributions demonstrate a passionate interest in making life brighter.

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YOUTH EXPERIENCE PHILANTHROPY Young people have so much to give. Since 2000, Minnesota Power has collaborated with the Northland Foundation to tap the energy, creativity and leadership of area teens through the Youth in Philanthropy program. Youth in Philanthropy engages students in grades 8-12 on a regional grantmaking board that funds projects designed by youth. It also trains young people to develop project ideas and write grant proposals. The Minnesota Power Foundation recently renewed its major sponsorship for five years.

SUPERIOR PROJECTS BENEFIT KIDS Bright eyes and smiling faces express how much children enjoy the Superior YMCA’s new childcare space. A crucial grant from the Minnesota Power Foundation helped the YMCA relocate its childcare program from the University of Wisconsin-Superior to the main YMCA building. Also in Superior, new computers at the Boys & Girls Club are providing youth access to vital technology. The Minnesota Power Foundation and SWL&P provided a grant that was matched by Microsoft.

“Computer access is essential to equal learning opportunity. Four out of five youth we serve do not have home computers. Minnesota Power Foundation’s generous support has equipped our Learning Center with state-of-the-art technology, helping eliminate disadvantaged circumstances in the classroom.” Tim Stratioti, Superior Branch Manager, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northland 4


Photo by Paul M. Walsh, Courtesy City of Duluth


LANDMARK EFFORTS GAIN SUPPORT Enger Tower got the royal treatment in 2011 with a major restoration and a visit by the King and Queen of Norway. The iconic stone tower is perched on a Duluth bluff. The Minnesota Power Foundation was a major funder of the property’s trail restoration and sponsored parts of the historic royal visit. Community landmarks build identity. That is also why Minnesota Power and Bison Wind Energy Center contributed to lighting a new courtyard in New Salem, ND, adding picturesque public space to the community.

Donation Assists Victims of Violence A new facility for survivors of sexual and domestic abuse received major funding from the Minnesota Power Foundation in December 2011. The Foundation donated $150,000 to the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (CASDA), in Superior, WI, to kick off an ongoing fundraising campaign that will help the organization relocate and renovate a building into a secure facility with emergency housing and supportive services. SWL&P President Bethany Owen and ALLETE Attorney Lyssa Supinski, who chairs the CASDA board, joined Foundation Director Peggy Hanson at the check presentation.




TEAM BUILDS BIKES FOR KIDS Remember the joy of a shiny new bike? Fourteen lucky boys and girls in Central Minnesota recently experienced it, thanks to the leadership team of ALLETE, Minnesota Power’s parent company. The group participated in a Build-a-Bike Team Building Workshop, an exercise that helps corporate leaders work together to solve challenges, see coworkers in a new and positive light, and share in a meaningful and lasting experience. After a bit of head scratching over how to earn parts for the bike, the teams dove in, building beautiful bicycles, complete with handlebar streamers. The workshop reinforced the core value of community engagement and the importance of collaboration. The completed bikes were donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Morrison County with an additional financial gift from the Minnesota Power Foundation.

“Words can’t say enough about how much these bikes mean to the kids. We appreciate everything you are doing to support the Boys & Girls Clubs.” Janelle Hanson, Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Morrison County

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FOLKS HAVE THE DRIVE TO SHARE Minnesota Power employees organized numerous drives in 2011 to support community needs. They included a company-wide food drive that benefited 24 food shelves across the region during March (Food Share Month) and an initiative that collected 21,000 diapers for needy families. In addition, many low-income job seekers will be dressed for success thanks to a clothing drive that collected men’s suits, ties, shirts and pants for the Damiano Center’s Clothes that Work program.

EMPLOYEES SUPPORT UNITED WAY Minnesota Power definitely is on board with United Way. Employees raised money for the organization during an event on the U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Sundew and held many other fundraisers throughout the year. Hundreds of employees of Minnesota Power; Superior Water, Light & Power (SWL&P); and BNI Coal generously pledged a portion of their wages to United Way in 2011. Combined with Foundation, corporate and fundraising events, the companies collectively donated well over half a million dollars. The money went to 10 United Way locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. Many company retirees made donations, as well. Employee volunteers also participated in annual United Way Day of Caring events by helping out at area nonprofits such as the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank and Animal Allies.




FIRST RESPONDERS GET LIFE-SAVING TOOLS Time is critical in cardiac emergencies. First responders need life-saving equipment like automated external defibrillators (AEDs) when they arrive at the scene. Minnesota Power and Gold Cross Ambulance teamed up to equip the Proctor Volunteer Fire Department with two new AEDs, replacing old equipment that no longer functioned. Luke Fontaine, an internal auditor at ALLETE and volunteer Proctor firefighter, applied for the grant. The Minnesota Power Foundation is proud to advance community safety and support employees’ volunteer efforts. Also in 2011, the Foundation supported the Nashwauk Fire Department’s purchase of a new all-terrain vehicle (ATV). The ATV will help with searches, rescues and other assistance in remote locations.

CREWS PROVIDE DISASTER RELIEF When natural disasters strike, ALLETE companies spring into action. In Bismarck, ND, spring flooding forced several BNI Coal employees out of their homes. BNI personnel stacked sandbags, rescued and stored personal items, and helped clean up the mess. Minnesota Power also sent people and resources. Company employees willingly travel to other regions to assist with natural disasters. At the end of summer, 20 line crew members were deployed to the East Coast to help restore power after Hurricane Irene.

“These guys are awesome! They were the ones that restored my power after seven days!” Cindy Atkinson, Resident, Phoenix, Maryland


Photo by Bob King/Duluth News Tribune



SOLDIERS, VETERANS AND MILITARY HONORED Military service is a high calling. Minnesota Power honors employees like Sgt. 1st Class Mike Ross, a technician at Taconite Harbor Energy Center, who returned from Afghanistan in August 2011. Ross and the 309th Engineering Company, U. S. Army Reserve, spent months clearing roads of improvised explosive devices. He recently retired from military service, a noble veteran. The Minnesota Power Foundation sponsored two Honor Flights in 2011, thanking World War II veterans in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota for their service with a free trip to the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, an F-16 Fighting Falcon now sits at the entrance of the Minnesota Air National Guard base in Duluth. Key corporate members of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee, including Minnesota Power, supported the dramatic tribute to the 148th Fighter Wing.

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LEADERSHIP ADDS TO COMMUNITIES Young mathematicians in Superior, WI, are sharpening their pencils for the new Superior Math League. Two Superior Water, Light & Power employees, Kris Coggin and Dave Weber, helped launch the program as their Leadership Superior/Douglas County community improvement project. Each year, motivated employees at Minnesota Power and its associated companies enroll in local, regional and statewide leadership development programs. These experiences give employees confidence and inspiration to share their leadership skills in ways that benefit the company and its communities.

VOLUNTEERS MAKE COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS People volunteer for many reasons. For Thor Underdahl, it is personal. He learned the value of having an adult mentor as a child and today is a mentor himself, as well as an avid volunteer for several organizations. Minnesota Power employees enjoy giving back to their communities, and volunteering is a great way to meet people and get to know coworkers better. A Minnesota Power intranet database called Community Connections makes it easy for people to find volunteer opportunities.



18 Photo by Brett Groehler/UMD

PROUD TRADITION CONTINUES People trust the integrity of Minnesota Power and often tap members of its leadership team and employees for posts that demand good judgment and critical thinking. In 2011, President Barack Obama nominated ALLETE Senior Vice President Dave McMillan to the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Board. He also was elected to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. Others who received high appointments included Inez Wildwood, workforce planning and talent development manager, who was chosen to chair the Minnesota Governor’s Workforce Development Council, and Dave Schmitz, general manager of renewable operations in North Dakota, who was named to the EmPower North Dakota Commission. Al Rudeck, vice president of strategy, planning and asset optimization, was inducted into the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Swenson College Academy of Science and Engineering as a distinguished alumnus. These appointments and awards are just a few examples of how Minnesota Power’s people are respected leaders in their communities and beyond.

DON SHIPPAR AWARD HONORS COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP One person can have a huge community impact. Cathy Hoffman, an accounting analyst II, was honored with the 2011 Don Shippar Community Leadership Award for her outstanding volunteer efforts. Her generosity touches many facets of the community, from serving food at the CHUM shelter, to volunteering at Bentleyville, to sewing fleece blankets for the Bethany Crisis Nursery. Sixteen employees were nominated by their fellow employees for the award. Honorable mentions went to Mike Cochran and Rick McDonald.




COMPANY SETS HIGH ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS Minnesota Power is a longstanding leader in environmental management and consistently goes beyond regulatory requirements to preserve natural resources, conserve energy and minimize emissions. Now it is updating environmental compliance systems at its sites to globally recognized ISO 14001 standards, beginning with Laskin Energy Center. Minnesota Power has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to further reduce already low emissions and improve efficiency at its Boswell, Laskin and Taconite Harbor generating plants.

WORKSHOPS TEACH THE TEACHERS Educating teachers and students about energy production and natural resource management benefits the entire region. Each year, Minnesota Power sponsors teacher workshops presented by the Lignite Energy Council and Communities for Responsible Energy Environmental Demonstration (CREED) Project to advance energy education. It also supports watershed workshops for teachers to expand knowledge of the Mississippi, St. Louis and Rainy rivers. Understanding the economy also is important. The Minnesota Council on Economic Education honored Minnesota Power in 2011 for 50 years of continuous support for its economics programming, which includes teacher development, curriculum materials and student contests.

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HYDROPOWER IS ENERGIZED Clean renewable energy is a growing part of Minnesota Power’s energy mix as it demonstrates leadership in providing low-cost, environmentally responsible electricity. Along with expanding its wind energy portfolio in 2011-2012, the utility has agreed to purchase 250 megawatts of hydropower from Manitoba Hydro over 15 years, starting in 2020. Major investments also are being made in Minnesota Power’s own hydropower system with projects at Prairie River, Fond du Lac and Little Falls stations. In addition to the electricity it generates, Minnesota Power’s hydropower system creates beautiful reservoir lakes, which the utility manages for a broad range of residential, recreational and environmental uses.

FISHING IS ACCESSIBLE TO ALL ANGLERS There are few things Gulf War veteran John Marciniak enjoys more than fishing with his grandson, Jake. The pair often can be seen wetting their lines at Boulder Lake, where Minnesota Power recently built a handicapped accessible shoreline fishing area. Boulder Lake is a reservoir that feeds the utility’s hydropower system. John’s son, Dave Marciniak, oversees more than 130 recreational sites for Minnesota Power, including picnic areas, boat launches, campgrounds and other properties. The company is working to ensure people of all abilities have access to these resources.




TOMORROW’S WORKFORCE BEGINS TODAY The region’s largest industries are investing in tomorrow’s workforce through higher education partnerships. Minnesota Power and other industrial leaders helped shape Hibbing Community College’s new Industrial Systems Technology program. It teaches skills needed across the energy, mining, forest products and manufacturing industries. Meanwhile, Mesabi Range Community and Technical College’s Wind Energy Technology program continues to gain momentum with a new onsite, small-scale wind turbine. Minnesota Power provides technical assistance and access to hands-on learning at the Taconite Ridge Wind Energy Center. The utility also donated hydraulic equipment for laboratory training to the Wind Energy Technician program at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, ND, helping to develop a pool of skilled workers for the growing Bison Wind Energy Center.

COMMUNITY ADVISORY PANELS GENERATE TRUST Communication generates trust and understanding. Minnesota Power initiated Community Advisory Panels (CAPs) in 2011 to enhance relationships with community leaders and stakeholders near its Boswell, Laskin and Taconite Harbor energy centers. These facilitated open meetings represent a broad array of interests and cover a range of topics related to the centers and their host communities. CAPs demonstrate Minnesota Power’s commitment to being a good neighbor and responsible corporate citizen.




ATTRACTING DATA CENTER TOOK ENERGY A high-security data center is under construction in Duluth, on property formerly owned by Minnesota Power. Involta’s $10.5 million project is near the Herbert Service Center. Company officials were drawn to the site’s robust energy service and infrastructure. The data center will store mission critical records, computer systems and components for multiple clients, including Essentia Health and SISU. Minnesota Power and the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX) identified this emerging industry and have led the region’s data center recruitment strategy.

FORUM LINKS BROADBAND TO GROWTH More than $250 million in high-speed fiber projects are planned or under way in Northeast Minnesota with huge potential to drive business development. Minnesota Power sponsored the Northern Regional Broadband Networks Forum to raise awareness of major fiber initiatives and discuss how area business can capitalize on high-speed Internet to find new markets, improve customer access, lower operating costs and spark innovation.

“Minnesota Power stepped up with the community expertise, real estate and reliable power strategy we needed to locate a data center.” Bruce Lehrman, CEO, Involta

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SAFETY IS EVERYONE’S BUSINESS Why do Minnesota Power employees value workplace safety? The company’s “I am Zero Injury” campaign invited employees to share safety stories and create personalized posters promoting workplace safety. One common theme is that safe choices at work allow people to enjoy life and spend quality time with their loved ones after hours. Safety is among Minnesota Power’s core values. Management and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers-Local 31 continually strive to improve processes, eliminate hazards and prevent work-related injuries. This commitment resulted in 2011 being a year of record safety performance with the lowest numbers of lost time injuries and lost work days, more than 1.6 million hours worked without any lost time, and receipt of the prestigious Edison Electric Institute Safety Achievement Award.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS RULE Health and wellness are vital to a high quality of life. St. Luke’s Foundation recognized Minnesota Power and the Minnesota Power Foundation with a 2011 Friends Award for their longstanding commitment to quality health care and vibrant, healthy communities. Minnesota Power has supported St. Luke’s Foundation for nearly 30 years. The utility is a recognized leader in employee health and wellness programs and strong advocate of community events that promote fitness and exercise, such as Grandma’s Marathon and other walks and runs.




BUSINESSES SAVE ENERGY AND MONEY Whether you run a manufacturing plant or a dairy farm, energy is a major business expense. Minnesota Power’s Power of One® conservation team works with commercial, industrial and agricultural customers to reduce energy use and lower costs. The Marshik Dairy Farm, near Pierz, MN, installed energyefficient lighting and equipment, including a robotic milking system. International Bildrite, a fiberboard manufacturer in International Falls, MN, also improved its processes through energy efficiency. Technical assistance and rebates from Minnesota Power help bring down upfront costs.

HOUSEHOLDS SAVE ENERGY AND LOWER COSTS Winter heating season is tough on many households. Minnesota Power helps ease that burden by supporting the Salvation Army’s HeatShare program and by co-sponsoring the annual Energy Awareness Expo. Hundreds of people attend the annual expo to sign up for heating and weatherization assistance, learn about energy efficiency and connect with social services. Minnesota Power also offers residential energy conservation programs and tools to help customers get the most for their energy dollars.

“Margins are tight in our industry. It is challenging to stay competitive, and using energy more effectively is a key strategy. Minnesota Power is a valuable partner.” Frank Orsi, Co-owner, International Bildrite




ROBOTICS TAKE BRAINPOWER Move over sports. Academic teams are taking the field. The Lake Superior Regional FIRST Robotics Competition drew more than 40 teams of whiz kids, demonstrating robots they designed, built and programmed. The Duluth East High School Daredevils Robotics Team won first place at the regional competition, held at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. This qualified the Daredevils and their robot “Archie” to compete nationally. Minnesota Power Foundation sponsored the regional event, hoping to inspire other area students to learn about math, engineering and computer science.

COOL TOOLS INSPIRE LEARNING Learning is fun if you have the right tools. A dynamic website called e-SMARTkids provides teachers in Minnesota Power’s service area with free materials to help kids learn about safe, responsible energy use. It features exciting activities and games, plus a special section for parents. Meanwhile, nearly 8,000 students at 31 area schools enjoyed “A Bug’s Light” in 2011. The traveling energy safety awareness program is performed by The National Theatre for Children and sponsored by Minnesota Power.

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CLASH OF THE TITANS An epic competition for business-savvy high school students was held at Minnesota Power’s General Office Building in 2011. The JA Titan business challenge pitted teams of area high school students matching wits in a computer-simulated manufacturing company. Students had to master key business decisions—such as product pricing, production levels, marketing expenses, research and development costs, capital investment levels and charitable giving––while turning a profit. Volunteers from Minnesota Power and other businesses assisted the aspiring tycoons.

Passionate Support for the Arts The Arrowhead Chorale joined choral and orchestra students from the University of Minnesota and a host of professional musicians in a magnificent performance of St. John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach. It was the first time any Twin Ports choral group had attempted the complex piece in its entirety. First Lutheran Church in Duluth was the perfect venue, providing an opportunity to showcase its newly installed pipe organ. ALLETE and Minnesota Power are strong supporters of the arts, providing funding to the Arrowhead Chorale, Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and many other organizations that advance fine arts.


36 Photograph by Tony Mitchell

Enraptured by Raptors and Wowed by Wood Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve is an excellent place to witness the fall migration of raptors. Minnesota Power Foundation funding is helping area fifth graders observe these magnificent flights firsthand through Experience Hawk Ridge. The onsite educational experience builds upon Hawk Ridge’s classroom programs: Discovering Birds for third graders and Raptors in the Classroom for fourth graders. Hands-on learning makes an impression. Members of the Minnesota Power Foundation’s Environmental Contributions Committee experienced life in a 1900s logging camp during a recent visit to the Minnesota Forest History Center near Grand Rapids, MN. They enjoyed seeing (and sawing) what forest history means for visitors and the region.

Thank you to all Minnesota Power and ALLETE company employees, customers, partners and stakeholders for sharing your boundless energy, expertise and enthusiasm to make our communities brighter!


For more information, please contact: Peggy Hanson, Community Relations and Minnesota Power Foundation Director 218.355.3380 | Visit our websites: | Centura Silk paper manufactured by NewPage Corporation was used for the 2011-2012 Minnesota Power Community Investment Report. Minnesota Power is proud to use the high quality product of a valued customer in this report. 10% post-consumer recycled fiber content

Minnesota Power 2011 Community Investment Report  

Minnesota Power 2011 Community Investment Report

Minnesota Power 2011 Community Investment Report  

Minnesota Power 2011 Community Investment Report