Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News June 2024 Eau Claire

Page 1

June 2024






Since 1940

Arcadia/Mondovi Water Source Htg & Clg (715) 833-9001

Ashland/Iron River Brown Plmbg & HVAC (715) 682-0444

Beaver Dam/Green Lake Air Care, Inc. (920) 356-8860

Black River Falls/ Stevens Point Northern Indoor Comfort (715) 937-2676

Cashton/Sparta Flock’s Htg & A/C (608) 269-1500

Chaseburg/Viroqua Flock’s Htg & A/C (608) 269-1500

Clintonville/Oshkosh Van’s Refrigeration (920) 833-2051

Cornell/New Auburn Water Source Htg & Clg (715) 833-9001

Dodgeville/Baraboo Modern Htg & Clg (608) 767-2689

Eau Claire/Osseo Water Source Htg & Clg (715) 833-9001

Escanaba/Iron Mountain GPS Htg & Clg (715) 732-2111

Green Bay/Oneida Van’s Refrigeration (920) 833-2051

Hudson/Stillwater Geothermal Concept (612) 481-4020

You may not realize it, but your home is sitting on a free and renewable supply of energy. A WaterFurnace geothermal comfort system taps into the stored solar energy in your own backyard to provide savings of up to 70% on heating, cooling and hot water. That’s money in the bank and a smart investment in your family’s comfort. Contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today to learn how to tap into your buried treasure.

Hurley/Park Falls QS Plmbing & Mechanical (715) 685-4330

Madison/Black Earth Modern Htg & Clg (608) 767-2689

Marinette/Peshtigo GPS Htg & Clg (715) 732-2111

Marengo/Ashland QS Plmbing & Mechanical (715) 685-4330

Menomonie/Bloomer Water Source Htg & Clg (715) 833-9001

Neillsville/Medford Northern Indoor Comfort (715) 937-2676

New Lisbon/Shamrock Deans Refrig. & Heating (608) 372-6928

Oconto/Rhinelander Van’s Refridgeration (920) 833-2051

Osceola/New Richmond Sustainable Htg & Clg (651) 462-1300

Princeton/Waupun All Phase Geothermal (920) 763-2301

Redwing/Wabasha Earth Energy Htg & Clg (507) 421-3156

Richland Center/Viroqua Strang’s Htg Electric Plmb (608) 647-2855

Sturgeon Bay/Denmark Van’s Refrigeration (920) 833-2051

Tomah/Oakdale Dean’s Refrig. & Heating (608) 372-6928

Wausau/Rhinelander Van’s Refrigeration (920) 833-2051

Westby/La Crosse Flock’s Htg & A/C (608) 654-5522

Winona/Pepin Earth Energy Htg & Clg (507) 421-3156

Wisconsin Rapids/ Marshfield Northern Indoor Comfort (715) 937-2676

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The Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News (Formerly Wisconsin R.E.C. News) has been published monthly and distributed since July 1940 to members of Wisconsin’s non-pro t, consumer-owned rural electric cooperatives. It is available to non-members for $13 per year or $35 for three years. Members pay $6.93 per year.

Published by the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association, 6405 Century Avenue, Suite 102 Middleton, WI 53562-2200. Steve Freese, president & CEO.

USPS number: 688-480.

Postmaster: please send address changes to Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News, 6405 Century Avenue, Suite 102 Middleton, WI 53562-2200.

Periodicals postage paid at Sun Prairie, Wis.

Send correspondence to Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News, 6405 Century Avenue, Suite 102, Middleton, WI 53562-2200. Phone (608) 467-4650.

Web site: www.wecnmagazine.com.

Co-op Members: Please send address changes to your local electric co-op. Contact information can be found on page 18.

Steve Freese WECA president & CEO

Dana Kelroy editor

Mary Erickson associate editor

Julie Lund contributing writer

Ann Bailey graphic designer

Geri Miller advertising consultant

Jennifer Taylor editorial assistant

For advertising opportunities please email geri@weca.coop. The appearance of advertising or events does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised. We reserve the right to refuse advertisers.


Give your home a vacation, too.

Norskedalen’s Midsummer Fest is lled with Norwegian-style fun.

Kids & Critters

Cute co-op kids get cozy with their critters.

Please recycle

10 14 24 31 4 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR 6 NEWS BRIEFS 8 MESSAGE FROM THE CEO 15 MY CO-OP 20 RECIPES 22 READER RECIPES 28 CLASSIFIEDS 30 EVENTS 10 24 31 Unruly Set your home to vacay mode Wisconsin Favorites
Increased EPA regulation threatens reliability. Heading out of town?
2024 Vol. 84 No. 11
Join us on 3 wecnmagazine.com June 2024
On the cover:
Celebrate June
Month! Enjoy a cold chocolate shake or any of the recipes starting on page 20.
Photo courtesy of Katie Jagiello, Oconto Electric Cooperative



Finding our May symbol was Rodney Bauer, a member of Dunn Energy Cooperative. Rodney said, “The dollar symbol is located on page 14 on the barn building the design above the barn doors. Our family enjoys these symbol searches and the magazine! It opens up discussions about energy. Thank you for making this fun!”

Now, we challenge you to nd this suitcase, to remind you to set your home to vacation mode, like the story on page 14. Remember that the symbol can be anywhere and any size. One randomly selected winner will receive a Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News kitchen kit. One entry per household, please, and provide your permanent home or mailing address with your entry. Send entries by June 15.

Enter via the “Symbol Search” link on the homepage of wecnmagazine.com.

You can also enter by mail (don’t forget to include the name of your cooperative):


6405 Century Avenue, Suite 102 Middleton, WI 53562-2200

Each June, we hold a contest among the local communicators from electric cooperatives across the state. We ask them to submit a photo to be considered for the cover of our June magazine that says “dairy.” We are, after all, the Dairy State and take pride in that honor.

Winning our contest again this year with the chocolate shake photo on the cover was Katie Jagiello, communications and marketing specialist at Oconto Electric Cooperative. She also submitted the photo of the burger and curds above. Katie has won many times over and has a keen and creative eye for what images convey “dairy.” Her past winning entries have included a beautiful sunset behind a picturesque farm, a grilled cheese sandwich with a tall glass of milk, and a Brown Swiss giving a kiss.

The skills of our co-op communicators go far beyond being talented photographers. Their work, featured on pages 15-18 of this publication every month, is a testament to their diverse skills and commitment to making your cooperative more than just a power provider. They are the ones who help you understand and access all the services and bene ts your cooperative o ers.

Choosing our winning cover photo was challenging this year. Our talented communicators submitted some great shots. We posted all our cover options on our website, wecnmagazine.com, under the web exclusive section. Flip through them and let us know, did we choose the right cover? Which one is your favorite? Drop us a note via the “contact” feature, or let us know in your symbol search entry. We’d love to hear which was your favorite. Happy June Dairy Month!

Good luck! Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News 4
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Co-op Leaders Lobby in D.C.

More than 30 leaders from 11 Wisconsin electric cooperatives were among the 1,200-plus electric co-op leaders nationwide who gathered in Washington, D.C., in April for NRECA’s 2024 Legislative Conference. They met with the state’s congressional staff to advocate for reliable, affordable electricity.

During the in-person meetings, Wisconsin’s co-op leaders talked about challenges with the EPA’s power plant rule, asked legislators to protect USDA funding designed specifically for energy innovation, and to safeguard rural electric infrastructure by rejecting new regulations on cooperative utility poles.

Participating in NRECA’s 2024 Legislative Conference were representatives from Adams-Columbia Electric, Bayfield Electric, Central Wisconsin Electric, Dunn Energy, East Central Energy, Eau Claire Energy, Jackson Electric, Oakdale Electric, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services, PolkBurnett Electric, Riverland Energy, and Dairyland Power.

EPA Power Plant Rule Draws Lawsuits

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and a coalition of 23 states filed separate lawsuits in the U.S. Court of Appeals against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the power plant rule it issued in April.

The rule is aimed at significantly reducing carbon emissions, and requires coal plants with at least 15 years of operating life left to use carbon capture and sequestration, a developing technology that is not currently used on a utility scale, by 2032 or shut down. Shorter running coal plants must be able to co-fire with natural gas.

NRECA called the rule “unlawful, unreasonable, and unachievable” and filed a lawsuit against the EPA.

The rule would have a major impact on Dairyland Power Cooperative’s JPM coal plant near Alma, which is not near a pipeline and would need major infrastructure investments to continue operating.


Court Reverses Third-Party Solar Approval

The Dane County Circuit Court recently released a ruling on a challenge to the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) decision to approve a petition by Vote Solar to allow a single case of thirdparty solar financing, opening the door to unregulated entities selling electricity in violation of state law.

In the ruling, the court largely sides with the Wisconsin Utilities Association (WUA), which brought the lawsuit. Wisconsin’s electric cooperatives joined WUA in opposition of the Vote Solar petition, arguing the move would allow solar companies that sell or lease solar panels to charge buyers by kilowatt hour or the energy they use, with no oversight, no consumer protections, no investment in power infrastructure, and no consideration of how it would impact the grid.

Broadband Subsidy Ends

The federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides a monthly internet subsidy of $30 to $75 for eligible households, has run out of funds. The FCC launched the $14.2 billion program as many lower income households struggled to pay for internet during COVID, and more than 23 million households were enrolled.

Efforts by President Joe Biden and other lawmakers to continue funding the program were unsuccessful, so as of April, those enrolled in the program will no longer receive the credit. The FCC stopped accepting new applications for ACP in February.

Evers on U.S. Climate Alliance Exec Committee

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has been selected by coalition of peers to serve in a leadership role for the U.S. Climate Alliance, which he has been a member of since 2019.

Evers’ work on the executive committee is expected to build on his administration’s efforts and help advance equitable solutions to environmental

challenges facing the state and nation.

The goal of the U.S. Climate Alliance is to secure a net-zero future in America by advancing state-led, high-impact climate action solutions and achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

Court Rules in Favor of Cardinal-Hickory Creek

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a preliminary injunction blocking construction of the final stretch of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Line, clearing a major hurdle for the project which is now in the final stretch. This comes less than a week after U.S. District Judge William Conley upheld the injunction preventing Dairyland Power Cooperative and ITC Midwest from finishing the last mile of a power line between Iowa and Wisconsin.

The line allows more than 160 renewable energy projects to access the grid. Construction of the final stretch has been on hold for more than two years, pending court challenges and inflating the project cost from $492 to more than $600 million.

RESCO Cuts Ribbon on New Warehouse

The Rural Electric Supply Cooperative (RESCO) officially cut the ribbon in celebration of the grand opening of its new 40,000-square-foot warehouse and office space in the town of Stanley. This is the coop’s eighth warehouse site, and its location is expected to help better serve Wisconsin electric co-ops in the region, especially with response times following severe weather and storms. At a cost of $7-8 million, this is RESCO’s largest capital investment in the cooperative’s 87 years.

The new facility sits on 15 acres, giving the cooperative the ability to expand its operations as needed. The amount of square footage—both indoor and outdoor—will allow RESCO to expand its growing product inventory levels, and enable it to deliver the materials, supplies, and equipment to members faster.

The site also includes office space and a large training room.

Clark Electric Cooperative is the electric provider for the new facility.

Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News 6

MESSAGE from the CEO

The energy industry and energy policy are incredibly complex. Trying to make sense of it can be a full-time job. In the end, most Americans care about whether their lights come on when the switch is flipped and the cost of the power to make that happen. While reliability and affordability are at the forefront of most consumers’ minds, energy companies and regulators also want to make sure it’s all delivered to you safely.

Our electric cooperatives have delivered reliable, affordable, and safe electricity to rural consumer members for over 80 years. However, it doesn’t come without its challenges, especially now as we are witnessing one the most impactful and rapid energy transformations in American history. No matter what policy decisions are made in Washington, D.C., or Madison, they will affect you in how your energy is delivered and how much you will pay for it.

This is where we need your help. In partnership with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), our national trade group representing nearly 900 electric cooperatives throughout the country, WECA will utilize an advocacy tool called Voices for Cooperative Power! This tool will allow you, as consumer members, to better relay your concerns or tell your own stories to state and federal elected officials.

your voice on key energy issues that matter most to you. You can choose what issues you want to engage in. You can choose how much you want to get involved.

Why is this important, and why are we announcing it now? Electric cooperatives have a long history of being responsive to the needs of the communities they serve, but there are times when policy decisions jeopardize our cooperatives’ ability to operate under common-sense practices to best serve the members’ needs.

Scan this code with your smartphone camera, or go to voicesforcooperativepower.com.

For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency just published a new power plant rule that NRECA President Jim Matheson says is “unlawful, unachievable, and unrealistic.” As I mentioned in last month’s column, for the first time since its formation in 1968, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) last year identified energy policy as a risk priority for grid reliability. Yes, you read that correctly. Political/policy decisions by our elected leaders on energy issues are now listed as a risk to grid reliability. See how this rule could impact Dairyland Power Cooperative’s ability, and other bulk power suppliers, to meet growing consumer energy demand in our feature story on page 10.

Voices for Cooperative Power (VCP) is a network of electric cooperative members like you who work together to influence energy decisions that will impact your local cooperative and your way of life. This effective online tool can connect you quickly with your elected officials or keep you up to date on major policy decisions that are being debated or implemented.

It’s very easy to be cynical in today’s political landscape, but it is undeniably true that the most important and influential voices to state and federal officials come from the people back home—their constituents. VCP allows you to efficiently amplify

Whatever issue you want to engage in—renewable energy, bulk power supply, energy efficiency programs, supply-chain timelines, grid reliability, broadband, rural economic development, etc.—VCP is your platform to communicate your questions, concerns, and opinions. I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity by signing up and becoming more engaged on important energy issues that will ultimately impact your way of life and your pocketbook. Again, at the end of the day, if our state and national energy policy isn’t making your power more reliable, more affordable, or safer, then our leaders must hear from you—the consumer. But remember, you’re not just a consumer; you’re the elected official’s boss. Maybe it’s time to use VCP and remind them of that.

Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News
wecnmagazine.com June 2024 9


The EPA is pushing out a package of rules forcing power plants to slash emissions or shut down, but is it attainable?

On a chilly morning in March, a small crowd gathered atop a bluff on the edge of a farm field south of La Crosse to watch the final dismantling of Dairyland Power Cooperative’s Genoa Station #3 coal generating plant, which was decommissioned in 2021 after more than five decades of reliable power generation. Following an explosive boom, the main building toppled and the emissions stack fell. In a matter of seconds, it was reduced to rubble.

Taking out the rest of the nation’s coal generating plants is proving to take longer than some would like. While burning coal is cleaner than it used to be, it’s still the most carbon-intensive player in the

power plant mix. The Biden administration, which set a goal of carbon pollution-free energy by 2035, has taken a bold step in an effort to move coal plant closures along. On April 25, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a suite of four rules amping up regulations on all the nation’s coal plants, as well as future natural gas plants.

The headliner in the package of rules requires existing coal plants set to operate past 2039 to dramatically reduce emissions beginning in 2032 by using carbon capture and storage (CCS). Coal plants retiring between 2035 and 2039 must also reduce emissions by co-firing with natural gas.

“The path outlined by the EPA is unlawful,

10 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News

unrealistic, and unachievable,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). “It undermines electric reliability and poses grave consequences for an already stressed electric grid.”

Many utility leaders, like Matheson, argue that CCS is unproven, currently unused at any large-scale operation, and certainly not ready for economyscale deployment. Only a handful of facilities around the world are actively removing carbon at power plants, and the process is proving to be energy-intensive and expensive. Just building the infrastructure for CCS, including carbon pipelines and underground storage mines, would likely take longer than the rule allows.

“What the rule is doing is basically forcing our hand on generation assets that might have another 15 or 20 years of normal operating life. They’re now being forced out by 2032,” said Ben Porath, Dairyland executive vice president and chief operating officer.

The state and the nation’s dependence on baseload coal

generation is diminishing, even without the Biden administration’s shift from encouragement to coercion. Wisconsin’s coal generation dropped from 64% in 2005 to 35% in 2020. Across the country, coal generation made up only about 16% of the power mix in 2023, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA.)

While closing coal plants is on trend, they are still vital resources in power production, providing reliable baseload energy, especially in times of extreme heat and cold.

If you head north about 60 miles from the Genoa site, you can’t miss Dairyland’s John P. Madgett (JPM) plant. It also sits along the Mississippi River, just south of Alma, flanked by piles of coal. JPM has been in commercial operation since 1979 and has a generating capacity of 387 MW of electricity.

In March, following the demolition of the Genoa plant, Dairyland President Brent Ridge said the co-op had no plans to shutter JPM.

“Today we saw Genoa’s power

plant be demolished. That’s the sixth coal plant that we have decommissioned. Those six plants show our commitment to carbon dioxide reduction,” Ridge said, adding that “We’re going to have fossil fuels including natural gas, and we have two remaining coal plants, and those are going to be in our system for a long time to come. Our mission is to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective electricity, and that takes an all-ofthe-above approach.”

“The path outlined by the EPA is unlawful, unrealistic, and unachievable,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). “It undermines electric reliability and poses grave consequences for an already stressed electric grid.”

But that was before the EPA rolled out the new power plant rule. The JPM plant’s future is now in jeopardy.

“Logistically, if you look at JPM, there really isn’t any natural gas source that’s close to the facility, so to try and site, permit and construct the infrastructure to pipe natural gas over to the facility, I don’t know what you would be talking as far as millions of dollars, but it’s a pretty big number,” said Brad Foss, Dairyland Power Cooperative’s director, regulatory affairs. He added that, “For carbon capture and sequestration, again, you’re talking about constructing extensive and expensive

11 wecnmagazine.com June 2024
Brent Ridge at the Genoa demolition.

infrastructure to try and pipe CO2 to existing CCS storage locations in Michigan or Illinois. So again, a lot of money, a lot of permitting, just a lot of issues that take time to work through.”

Dairyland is also a 30% owner of the Weston #4 coal plant. The plant’s majority owner, Wisconsin Electric Group, has announced plans to convert it to natural gas.

“Under the rule, they’d have to co-fire with natural gas at 40% by January 1, 2030, so that’s a pretty quick turnaround too,” Foss said, stressing that the overarching concern is the already mounting risk to reliability as more baseload generation is retired and replaced by intermittent wind and solar. Federal oversight agencies and regional reliability organizations have issued historic warnings about the potential for rolling blackouts, and the power plant rule would further exacerbate the challenges.

“The timelines are really, in my opinion, overly aggressive and unachievable,” Foss said.

The likely forced-closure of most of the nation’s baseload coal generation comes as utilities are seeing the first increase in electricity demand in two

decades. The explosion of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a driving force behind the need for data centers that require tremendous amounts of electricity, the nation’s slow but steady transition to electric vehicles, and comprehensive federal efficiency standards prompting electrification of everything from home heating to stoves to lawn mowers is all driving demand up.

“That’s why the Nemadji Trail Energy Center (NTEC) is such an important project to Dairyland and our members, and why we’re working so hard to get it through the regulatory permitting process so we can get it into construction,” Porath said.

NTEC is a proposed state-of-the-art, combinedcycle natural gas facility located in Superior that would have the ability to ramp up quickly when needed to backfill for wind and solar when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Dairyland has been navigating the permitting process for NTEC for more than seven years but has yet to break ground. As engineered, the NTEC would be compliant with the rule for new power plants, as long as it operates below 40% capacity.

While the power plant rule is getting the most

12 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News
Before and after: The nal dismantling of Dairyland Power Cooperative’s Genoa #3 coal plant, which was decommissioned in 2021 after more than ve decades of reliable power generation. Photo illustration by WECN

attention, the EPA also issued final rules that ramp up regulations on emissions from mercury and other toxins, increase limits on wastewater, and add stringent requirements for the disposal of coal ash (CCR), all of which will have a significant impact on the industry.

“From Dairyland’s perspective, we have four CCR landfills that are likely to be subject to the rule, and again, timelines come into play where we may have to initiate closure which could include removal of the ash from those landfills within 42 to 54 months after the rule is published, which again, could cost hundreds of millions of dollars,” Foss said.

Dairyland also has two landfills that will likely be impacted by the wastewater (Effluent Limitations Guidelines) rule, which requires technology to recycle 100% of the leachate from those landfills by December 31, 2034.

The Biden administration also rolled out new rules on energy permitting, a priority for both Republicans and Democrats, to get more clean energy on the grid and expedite the transmission projects needed to accommodate it. Dairyland is a minority owner in the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line, which would support more than 160 new renewable energy projects but has faced years-long delays and increased costs. It is a poster child for the need for permitting reform on Capitol Hill.

The new National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rule requires federal agencies to work together to streamline the permitting process, and sets two-year time limits for some environmental reviews, but opponents say it also adds unnecessary hurdles to the

public comment process.

Porath says permitting reform has only been mildly effective in the past and is only part of the answer. What lawmakers really need to tackle is tort reform, as repeated legal challenges often have open-ended timelines. “With the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project, we were close to two years on the environmental permitting, but it’s the legal challenges that have caused the real delays,” he said.

Dairyland and its partners in the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line project (ATC and ITC Midwest) recently got the go-ahead to complete the final 1.2 miles of line when an appeals court overturned a lower court’s ban last month.

Since repeated legal challenges have held up the Cardinal Hickory line for years, just imagine what it might take to build a carbon pipeline to Alma.

But the legal system works both ways, and opponents of the new rules, including NRECA, have already filed suit against the EPA, challenging the power plant rule. A similar rule implemented under the Obama administration in 2015 was stayed through litigation that dragged on until June of 2022, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the EPA had exceeded its authority.

But this is

an election year, of course, and Donald Trump is making bold promises that, if elected, he will undo many of Biden’s climaterelated actions. Trump took sweeping action against Obama administration rules using the Congressional Review Act (CRA), but the Biden administration rolled out these rules in time to beat the CRA’s 60-day clock, should Trump win in November. He could write new rules to replace Biden’s power plant rules, but that would take some time.

Missing from this package of rules aimed at lowering emissions at the nation’s power plants are new regulations for existing natural gas plants, which provided 43% of the nation’s electricity generation last year. The Biden administrations plans to roll those out in 2025.—Julie Lund

Dairyland Power Cooperative’s John P. Madgett (JPM) plant, located just south of Alma, has been in commercial operation since 1979 and has a generating capacity of 387 MW of electricity. The EPA’s new power plant rule now puts the JPM plant’s future in jeopardy.

13 wecnmagazine.com June 2024


Before you leave for vacation, reduce unnecessary energy waste and unneeded wear and tear on your home’s equipment by following these energy-saving tips. Set your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees closer to the outdoor temperature when you aren’t home. You can also consider upgrading to a smart thermostat, which gives you control over the temperature from anywhere.

Q: How can I lower my electric bill when I’m gone on vacation?

A: Just like you, the equipment in your home is hard at work getting through the daily grind. While you are off enjoying a new adventure or time away, give your home’s equipment a vacation, too. Doing so can reduce unnecessary energy waste and unneeded wear and tear on your heating and cooling system, appliances, and more. Here’s how to set your home to vacay mode.

Your heating and cooling system keeps you comfortable. If you aren’t there, it doesn’t need to be quite so comfortable in your home. Setting the thermostat closer to the outdoor temperature can save you energy and money. I don’t recommend completely turning off the heating or cooling system. In extreme weather, your heating and cooling system also helps protect your home from freezing pipes or damage from excessive heat.

As a rule, you can typically set your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees closer to the outdoor temperature when you aren’t home. Each home is different, and the weather varies depending on where you live. Consider the right temperature balance for your home.

Installing a smart thermostat gives you the ability to control your settings remotely from your smart phone. This allows you to adjust the temperature after you leave home and right before you return.

Most water heaters include a vacation mode setting. This setting drops the temperature to reduce wasted energy when you’re away. A storage water heater is like an insulated tea kettle, standing by and ready for you to have hot water whenever you need it. Give that water heater a vacation, too. Changing the setting to vacation mode keeps it on at a lower setting, saving energy.

Leave yourself a note with a reminder to turn it back on when you get home, so you don’t wind up with a disappointing shower before the first day back at work.

Closing the curtains can provide two benefits. It can keep heat from the sun at bay. This reduces the load on your heating and cooling system, which saves energy. It also has the benefit of blocking visibility into your home when you’re away.

For security, some people use timers or leave on exterior lights. Make sure any lights left on are LEDs, instead of incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. LEDs use less energy and have less impact on your electric use when left on all night. You can also consider adding smart LEDs to your home. Smart LEDs can be controlled remotely through an app on your phone.

Did you know there are devices in your home that continue to draw power from your electrical outlets even when turned off or on standby? Before you leave, walk through your home and unplug devices and small appliances. Make sure gaming consoles and computers are fully powered down. Unplugging any devices that have lights, clocks, or use standby mode can also reduce wasted energy.

Having peace of mind that your home is powered down and secure can help you enjoy your vacation. After all, we all need an occasional break.

Miranda Boutelle writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing nearly 900 electric co-ops.

14 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News
MY CO-OP www.ecec.com June 2024 15


Consumers with water, gas, and electricity connections have long been targets for utility scams. But in today’s digital world, every swipe and click increases the risk of potential scams.

Scammers are more sophisticated than ever before, and they understand our increasing reliance on technology. With their sharpened digital knives, scammers have adapted their tactics to trick unsuspecting consumers through a variety of methods.

Eau Claire Energy Cooperative wants to help you avoid energy scams, whether a financial loss or leak of your personal information. This month, we’d like to share updates on some the latest utility scams, as well as tips to help you stay safe from even the craftiest scammers.

Scammers typically disguise themselves––either physically or digitally––as utility employees or representatives to steal consumers’ money or personal information. A common

trick is to claim a consumer’s bill is past due and threaten to disconnect service if payment isn’t received immediately. Scammers approach consumers through a variety of means, including phone calls, text messages, emails, and even in-person visits. However, the digital line of attack is increasingly more common.

A common trick is to claim a consumer’s bill is past due and threaten to disconnect service if payment isn’t received immediately.

For example, new capabilities disguising caller ID or “spoofing” can make the phone number you see on caller ID appear to be from a trusted source. Spoofing makes it easier for scammers to deceive you because it’s more difficult to immediately verify the call. Another recent scam uses fraudulent websites that are identical to a

16 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News

utility payment webpage––and what’s worse, these pages are often promoted on search engines to trick consumers into clicking and making a payment.

Other recent scams involve phone calls, text messages, or emails claiming you overpaid your electric bill and will receive a cash or banking refund. This offer may seem too good to be true, and it is––it’s likely a scam aimed to steal your personal information.

There are several red flags you can watch for to identify an energy scam.

Scammers often use high-pressure tactics to create a sense of urgency, like claiming your electricity or other services will be disconnected if a payment isn’t made immediately.

Additionally, scammers may ask for unusual payment methods such as gift cards or cryptocurrency. If someone is pushing for an unusual payment method, it’s likely a scam.

You’ve probably noticed that many digital scams, like emails or text messages, include poor grammar, spelling errors, and odd email addresses. These are red flags, so when you see these dodgy forms of communication, consider it a potential scam.

What Eau Claire Energy Cooperative

Will (and Won’t) Do

Eau Claire Energy Cooperative will never demand an instant, immediate payment and threaten to disconnect your service without prior notices or warnings. We strive to resolve challenging situations and work with our members to avoid disconnects.

Eau Claire Energy Cooperative will never ask for your Social Security number or banking details over the phone or through email. We offer several secure payment options, including in-person, on our website, scheduled payments, and in the SmartHub app.

Avoiding Scams

Whether in-person, over the phone, or online, always be suspicious of an unknown individual claiming to be an Eau Claire Energy Cooperative employee requesting banking or other personal information. We will only send you text messages if you have opted in for important alerts like outage notifications or peak alert notifications from our SmartHub App.

If you’re ever in doubt about a potential energy scam, just give us a quick call at 715-832-1603 so we can assist. Eau Claire Energy Cooperative wants to help protect you and our community against utility frauds, and by notifying us about potential scams, you can create the first line of defense. We encourage you to report any potential scams so we can spread the word and prevent others in our community from falling victim.

Smart Management. Smart Life. SmartHub.

Make your life easier with SmartHub, an online application to help you manage your account 24/7. With SmartHub, you can:

• Pay your ECEC bill and view billing history

• Report and view outages

• View and manage your electric usage

• Find ways to lower your energy bill

Available on your Apple or Android device

Donwload the FREE mobile app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

MY CO-OP www.ecec.com June 2024 17
Monica Obrycki, President and CEO 8214 Hwy 12, P.O. Box 368, Fall Creek, WI 54742-0368 www.ecec.com Lobby Hours: 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday–Thursday; 7:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m. Friday Non-emergencies: 715-832-1603 Emergencies & outages: Toll FREE 800-927-5090 24 hours a day, 7 days a week Diggers Hotline: 811 or 1-800-242-8511 Call 3 working days before you dig. Taylor Skibba, Marketing and Communications Coordinator 18 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News JUNE 8-15 TOUR THE MOST BEAUTIFUL HOMES in the Chippewa Valley 11 New Homes • 2 Remodeled Homes • 2 Virtual Homes Tickets: $8 through June 7 $10 after June 7 Celebrating 50 Years of the Parade of Homes Enjoy food trucks at select Parade Homes June 8 & 9 and participate in the Gold Coin Hunt June 10 - 14! Denny’s Appliance • Fireside Hearth & Home • HomeTech by Mosaic • Xcel Energy Kristy Thiess, Your Real Estate Guide • JM Builders LLC • Royal Credit Union Ashley Construction • Cesspool Cleaner Company & Portable Toilet Rentals, LLC • Eau Claire Insulation & Exteriors Gerhard’s Kitchen & Bath Store • Johnson Roll-Off Service • Everyday Surveying & Engineering, LLC JASK Visual • iHeart Media • WEAU 13 News www.ParadeOfHomesCV.com ECEC will be closed July 4 for Independence Day
AFFORDABLE LIFE INSURANCE The Best Idea For ... Personal Insurance - Business Insurance - Mortgage Protection Premiums illustrated represent 10 year level term insurance with guaranteed level premiums for 10 years. $100,000 - $1,000,000 rates are Select-A-Term [policy form no. 07007] Preferred Plus Non-tobacco. This coverage features a level death benefit with fully guaranteed level premiums for the first 10 years with coverage to expire at age 95. The policy may be continued on Annual Renewable Term at the end of the level premium period without evidence of insurability until the anniversary nearest the insured’s 95th birthday. The underwriting risks, financial and contractual obligations and support functions associated with products issued by American General Life Insurance Company (AGL) Houston, TX are its responsibility. AGL does not solicit business in the state of New York. All terms, conditions and limitations of any policy issued shall govern. American General Life Companies is the marketing name for a group of domestic life insurers including American General Life Insurance Company and The United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York. Policies and riders not available in all states. Premium rates current as of April 2024; rates may vary by state. Premiums available for other rate classes, ages and payment plans. Premium charges depend on evidence of insurability. Premiums increase at the end of the guaranteed term if policy is renewed. Death benefit remains level. The policy may be contested for two years from the date of issue for material misstatements or omissions on the application. Death benefit is limited to return of premium paid in the event of suicide within first two years. Rates subject to change. Standard Marketing Services represents AGL and other fine insurance companies. All companies identified above are wholly owned subsidiaries of Corebridge Financial, Inc. Corebridge Financial and Corebridge are marketing names used by subsidiaries of Corebridge Financial, Inc. Call Wiley Maddox Today to Request an Application: NON-TOBACCO RATES Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved (203) 637-1544 or (800) 645-1544 Monday - Friday 8 am to 5 pm EST MONTHLY RATES MONTHLY RATES Introduces Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female $100,000 $250,000 $500,000 $1,000,000* Issue Age Issue Age 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 8.96 9.12 9.21 9.21 9.46 9.63 10.05 10.47 10.98 11.58 12.25 12.84 13.43 13.48 13.71 14.46 15.38 16.37 17.46 18.69 20.70 22.69 24.69 13.03 14.03 14.79 15.63 16.47 17.32 19.38 21.07 23.23 25.26 27.90 29.57 32.11 34.21 37.13 39.68 44.27 49.00 54.33 59.70 66.68 73.22 80.39 9.77 10.32 10.52 11.69 12.35 12.94 13.66 14.21 14.72 15.67 16.86 17.85 19.14 20.44 21.77 23.41 25.38 28.02 30.95 33.99 37.13 41.67 45.59 18 22 22 24 25 27 30 33 38 41 46 49 54 58 63 69 78 87 101 112 122 140 154 8.61 9.44 9.81 10.16 10.56 11.01 11.61 12.46 13.25 14.10 15.16 15.87 16.84 17.77 18.77 20.00 21.18 22.76 24.81 26.20 27.86 31.07 33.43 7.80 8.21 8.47 8.60 8.73 8.96 9.19 9.26 9.39 9.73 10.15 10.65 11.16 11.88 12.33 12.99 13.75 14.88 15.88 16.72 17.51 19.48 20.63 10.86 12.33 12.97 13.80 14.31 15.16 16.77 18.19 19.76 21.40 23.57 24.91 26.59 28.42 30.30 33.30 34.98 37.94 43.09 45.15 49.42 52.92 57.15 29.07 31.60 34.14 37.60 41.49 44.70 48.23 53.18 59.15 65.66 74.33 82.98 93.20 102.45 113.68 127.55 142.08 159.25 200.03 249.54 310.70 374.78 450.51 50.43 55.50 59.98 66.43 73.90 85.55 93.16 100.34 115.74 130.13 145.11 161.68 181.25 204.38 232.46 267.15 303.50 346.45 418.29 505.52 613.27 726.16 859.57 88.64 97.94 108.51 121.89 135.77 151.36 168.32 187.54 208.45 230.15 261.19 292.32 329.12 373.07 426.44 492.36 561.42 643.04 784.08 955.35 1166.92 1388.55 1650.49 169 188 207 236 265 287 323 356 392 436 491 548 615 702 807 937 1074 1235 1489 1797 2179 2578 3050 21.98 23.51 24.28 25.65 27.91 34.39 38.53 41.15 44.62 49.09 59.65 65.91 73.30 82.71 94.13 108.24 123.01 140.48 174.92 216.74 268.40 322.52 386.48 36.04 38.76 41.71 47.11 51.33 59.61 64.39 70.37 75.41 83.65 112.92 129.33 148.72 159.34 172.23 188.15 204.84 224.56 276.67 339.94 418.11 500.00 596.78 61.59 67.13 72.34 83.65 92.10 101.40 111.96 124.63 134.77 147.28 173.71 187.50 203.80 234.59 271.99 318.18 366.57 423.76 529.52 657.94 816.58 982.78 1179.18 117 129 140 156 171 187 206 229 248 272 322 352 387 443 512 596 685 789 982 1215 1504 1807 2164 30 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 29 31 34 38 40 44 48 52 57 62 67 77 83 90 97 107 $100,000 $250,000 $500,000 $1,000,000* Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female 10 - Year Guaranteed Level Rates * $1,000,000 monthly rates are rounded up to the nearest dollar. Therefore, actual monthly rates at $1,000,000 may be slightly less.

Blueberry Chocolate Cheesecake

Recipe and photo courtesy of the US Highbush Blueberry Council.


3/4 cup frozen blueberries, rinsed 1-1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

In blender, purée blueberries until smooth. In a small saucepan set over high heat, add blueberry purée, sugar, and lemon juice; stirring, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring occasionally, for approx. 7–10 minutes or until slightly thickened and reduced to approx. 1/2 cup. Strain mixture through a ne-mesh sieve into medium bowl, discard solids, and then let cool completely.


1-1/3 cups chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed 1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together crushed sandwich cookies and butter. Firmly press mixture into the bottom of a greased 9-inch tart pan, pressing up the sides. Bake for 8–10 minutes or until crisp and set. Let cool completely.


2 (8 oz) pkgs block-style cream cheese, softened

3 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

1 egg

1 Tbsp all-purpose our 1/4 cup blueberries for garnish

Reduce oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of stand mixer tted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, vanilla, and salt and continue to beat until light and u y. Beat in egg, then our. Fold in blueberry purée and pour over cooled crust. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until center is almost set but still retains a slight jiggle; let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Garnish with fresh blueberries before serving. Slice cake into 12 servings.

NOTE: Store cheesecake in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 3 weeks.

20 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News


Chesapeake Bay Potato Chip Mac & Cheese

Recipe and photo courtesy of Aslum Farms & Produce, via Potatoes USA. Creamy and cheesy macaroni studded with pieces of tender cooked yellow potatoes and topped with crispy seasoned kettle chips.


1 lb cavatappi pasta cooked, cooled

8 oz yellow potatoes cut into 1/2-inch cubes, cooked and cooled

3 cups half & half

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp sea salt

1-3/4 cup Colby jack cheese, shredded

2 tsp Old Bay seasoning

Boil pasta and potatoes separately, until just tender; set aside. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the half & half with the heavy cream. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. When the cream is reduced by about half (approx. 5–6 minutes), add the sea salt, cheese, and Old Bay seasoning. Stir to combine and adjust the consistency slightly with a little water, if needed. Stir in the pasta and cooked potatoes gently until both are well-coated by the cheese sauce. Keep pasta, cheese, and potato mixture warm until ready to serve. Meanwhile, make the potato chip topping.


1 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

8-1/2 oz sea salt kettle chips, slightly crushed

2 tsp Old Bay seasoning

2 Tbsp parsley, chopped

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and swirl the pan until the garlic is fragrant, approx. 15 seconds. Add the kettle chips and stir constantly until the chips are golden. Season the chips with the Old Bay and remove them from the heat; add the parsley and stir to combine. Allow the potato chip topping to cool slightly before using. When ready to serve, spoon mac & cheese into serving bowls and top with potato chip topping.

1 cup instant brown rice

1-1/2 tsp dried basil

Italian Pepperoni Rice Bake

Recipe and photo courtesy of USA Rice.

1 (10 oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed, reserving liquid

1/2 tsp salt

1 (8 oz) pkg shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided

1 (14 oz) jar spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce (approx. 2 cups)

30 thin pepperoni slices (approx. 2 oz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook rice and basil in a medium skillet according to package directions; remove from heat. Stir in the spinach, reserved liquid, and salt until well blended. Add half of the mozzarella and all but 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and stir gently until well blended. Transfer mixture into a 2-quart baking dish. Spoon the pizza sauce evenly over the top of rice mixture, top with the pepperoni slices (overlapping slightly), and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until beginning to lightly brown on edges. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

1 lb extra-lean ground turkey

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

Two-Cheese Turkey Enchiladas

Recipe and photo courtesy of the National Turkey Federation, via the Ashley Cote blog ‘Spoonful of Flavor’.

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes, divided

1 (8 oz) pkg reduced-fat cream cheese

1/4 cup fat-free sour cream

1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies

1 cup salsa

8 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas, warmed 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over medium heat, crumble turkey into a large nonstick skillet. Add onion, green pepper, brown sugar, and seasonings; cook and stir over medium heat until turkey is no longer pink. Stir in 1 cup crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, and chilies until blended; set aside. Combine salsa and remaining tomatoes. Spread 1 cup into a 13-x9-x2-inch baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon approx. 3 tablespoons cream cheese mixture and 1/3 cup turkey mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in baking dish. Top with remaining salsa mixture and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered for 20–25 minutes or until bubbly and hot throughout. Makes 8 servings.

21 wecnmagazine.com June 2024





4 cups tart cherries 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 (1 lb 5 oz) can cherry pie lling 1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all casserole ingredients into a large saucepan and heat. While fruit is heating, prepare the topping.


Submit your favorite recipes to be featured on our reader recipe page. Email to jennifer@weca.coop or submit directly at http://wecnmagazine.com/submit-a-recipe/. Due to food safety issues, we cannot accept canning recipes.



1 (8 oz) pkg wide noodles, cooked

3 cups cooked, diced chicken

1/2 lb mushrooms sliced and sauteed in butter

1/4 tsp sage

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 (10.5 oz) cans cream of celery soup

1 cup sour cream


An online reader is looking for recipes that use blackberries.

SEND TO: WECN, Reader Recipes, 6405 Century Avenue, Suite 102 Middleton, WI 53562-2200 or jennifer@weca.coop

1 cup our 2 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup rolled oats (quick oats) 1/2 cup milk

1 beaten egg

Vanilla ice cream (optional)

In a medium bowl, stir together our, sugar, baking powder, and salt; cut in butter. Stir in oats, milk, and egg. Mix until ingredients are moistened. When the fruit is steaming hot in the saucepan, transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish and then drop spoonfuls of topping over the cherry mixture. Bake approx. 25–30 minutes until the topping is golden brown. Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream. Serves 6–8.



2 cups sliced cooked beets (or 1 large can sliced beets)

1 medium onion, thinly sliced 1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1-1/2 tsp salt

6 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick, approx. 3-1/2 inches long 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

Drain beets, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. In a bowl, combine beets with sliced onion. In a saucepan, mix together reserved beet liquid, vinegar, sugar, water, and salt. In a cheesecloth or muslin bag, tie together cloves, cinnamon stick, and mustard seeds; add to beet mixture. Simmer covered for 10 minutes; discard spices. Pour liquid over the beets, cover with plastic wrap, let cool, and refrigerate.

8 oz mild shredded cheddar cheese

Mix cooked noodles with all ingredients, except for the mild shredded cheddar cheese. Place in a greased 2-quart casserole dish; top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Makes 10–12 servings.



8 oz cooked noodles of choice

1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained

2 cups cooked corn

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 (10.5 oz) can cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup

1 cup milk

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and pour into a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.



You can put it together the night before, let the avors blend, then bake it in the morning. I have enjoyed making this recipe for years and is my favorite.

2 cups cooked chicken breast, diced

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup cooked rice

1 (10.5 oz) can cream of chicken soup

1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts

2 Tbsp grated onion

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp chicken bullion

1 cup crushed butter crackers (such as Ritz)

1 cup slivered almonds

1/4 stick butter or margarine, melted

Combine the rst 8 ingredients and place in a greased 9-x-13inch glass pan. In a bowl, combine the last 3 ingredients and sprinkle on top of the casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

22 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News


For the past two months, we’ve featured some of our favorite county parks in the Wisconsin Favorites section of the magazine, and we invited readers to share their own favorites. Here are our top three readers’ favorites. Morris-Erickson County Park

Melanie McLaughlin, member of Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative, shared this photo of Morris-Erickson County Park, located at 28561 WI-40, New Auburn, WI 54757. It’s located along the shores of Long Lake and o ers 28 camping sites and all manner of water recreation. McLaughlin said of the lake, “It is so clean, and has such deep gulleys, that scuba diving is taught here. Featured sh are walleye, musky pan sh, pike, and largemouth and smallmouth bass. Or you can look for cray sh and frogs on the shoreline.” The park also has a playground, picnic area, and a large pavilion that can be reserved.

Reader Abby Czyscon, member of Oakdale Electric Cooperative, shared these two photos of McMullen Memorial County Park, located at 1704 Atlantic Road, Warrens, WI 54666. At left is a bird’s-eye view of Castle Rock Blu , and at right is a footbridge through one of the hiking trails that wind through hardwood stands and lowland marshes. Czyscon said, “This beautiful park is located by Lake Wazeda and has plenty of natural beauty. There’s hiking trails, camping, shing, swimming, and much more.”

Marc Williams, member of Riverland Energy Cooperative, shared this photo of Powers Blu County Park, located at 6990 Blu Dr, Arpin, WI 54410. Williams said, “Our family has been visiting this park in the spring since the 1960s because of the incredible profusion of wild owers— especially trilliums…Also wonderful birding (Indigo Buntings are resident), hiking, and tubing in the winter. Geologically, the blu is a monadnock. It is comprised almost entirely of solid metamorphic rock called quartzite. 70 acres of the park are preserved as a state natural area. The area also has a history with the indigenous peoples of Wisconsin. The south 80 acres of the park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Native American Cultural Sensitivity Area with preserved Native American dance rings, and burial grounds.”

23 wecnmagazine.com June 2024
McMullen Memorial County Park Powers Blu County Park



2828 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News

What do a farmstead arranged in a horseshoe shape, an open-face sandwich, rømmogrøt ice cream, and an official U.S. Strongman competition have in common?

They all have links to Norwegian culture, and they’re all part of the Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center’s 2024 Midsummer Fest, set for June 22 on the Norskedalen grounds in Coon Valley, on Vernon Electric Cooperative lines.

Norskedalen, which translates to Norwegian valley, is a 400-plus-acre site nestled deep within the state’s Coulee region, whose geographic resemblance to the steep hillsides and valleys of Norway enticed immigrants from that country to settle here in the mid-1800s. The center is multi-faceted, with the Bekkum Homestead and other features providing a full immersion into history, while the surrounding arboretum and hiking trails provide a full immersion into nature.

Norskedalen is open year-round for visitors to explore on their own or through a guided tour of the homestead buildings. There’s also a steady offering of schoolage educational programs; nature activities such as bird walks and nature journaling; heritage classes where participants can learn oldworld skills like embroidery and making lefse; and annual special events, including the popular Midsummer Fest, which promises to be better than ever this year.

“We’ve got a lot of fun things planned,” said Lori Dubczak, executive director of Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center. “We’ve got our very favorite traditions that we do every year, and this year we’ve got a couple of brand-new things that tie into the agriculture and Norwegian heritage of the area.”

Tried-and-True Traditions

Among the favorite activities of Midsummer Fest—and any other visit to Norskedalen, for that matter—is a chance to wander through the Bekkum Homestead, a collection of historic buildings that were moved to the site in 1982 and arranged in a tun—a horseshoeshaped pattern—that was typical of a turn-of-the-century Norwegian farm. The homestead includes a two-story farmhouse, summer kitchen, springhouse, corn crib, granary, outhouse, chicken coop, machine shed, stable, barn, and blacksmith’s shop. Each building is filled with historical artifacts donated by local families.

“All of our historic buildings are authentic,” Dubczak pointed out. “They were actually built and lived in from the 1860s until probably the middle of the 1970s. They’re not

replicas—they’re the real deal. And so we’ll have those open with docents for the day, and you can go learn about families that lived and worked there. You can see their tools, you can see their rolling pins, you can see their mixing bowls, you can see their cookstoves. The blacksmith will be there, so you can see the forge going and see just how important it was to have a blacksmith on your property.”

Norskedalen’s historic buildings also include the Benrud Little White Chapel, formerly the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church, built in 1886 and moved to the Norskedalen grounds in 2009. The chapel can be rented for weddings and other celebrations, but for Midsummer Fest plans are for the chapel to house a display of bunad, the traditional, elaborately embroidered Norwegian folk costume.

There will also be live music

Each of the individual buildings that make up the Bekkum Homestead are authentic structures that were built and used by Norwegian immigrants in the area.

WISC NSIN FAVORITES 25 wecnmagazine.com June 2024
Left: Visitors of all ages will have fun searching for the nisse hidden along the Troll Trail route.

Norskedalen’s Midsummer Fest features activities that celebrate the area’s Norwegian heritage. The historic Benrud Little White Chapel can be rented for weddings or other events. Norskedalen has miles of trails for all skill levels.

throughout the day and plenty of family-friendly nature activities such as Butterfly Bingo, a Pollinator Path for which children can collect pollinator tokens at each stop, and a scavenger hunt that takes families throughout the entire Norskedalen property.

And of course, there will be lots of Norwegian food.

“We’ll have fabulous homemade lefse, strawberry shortcake, and open-face sandwiches, which is a very traditional option in Norway,” Dubczak said. “We will also have rømmegrøt ice cream, which is a homemade ice cream based on the winter porridge that’s traditional in Norway.”

A Strong Addition

While guests are taking in the music, food, history, and nature of Norskedalen, they can marvel at the brute strength exhibited at the accompanying United States Strongman-sanctioned competition that will be a new feature of this year’s Midsummer Fest.

“We’re partnering with U.S. Strongman because strongman competitions have Norwegian Viking roots,” Dubczak explained. “You see these strongmen tossing boulders and tree stumps and pulling cars, and all of

those events originated with the Vikings because that’s what the Viking strongmen needed to do to clear their fields and all the other things they needed to do. So there’s a strong tie-in to that event.”

The competition will be held in an open field north of Norskedalen’s main shelter, where the food will be served and many of the day’s main events will be centered. A hiking trail that winds around a hillside above the field will allow for a prime, safe viewing spot for spectators.

Viking strength also plays into the those trails via the Hiking Vikings, an element that was added to Norskedalen’s activities last summer and expanded upon for this year. To become a Hiking Viking, visitors hike Norskedalen’s miles of varied nature trails, collecting points for each trail. This year, the center is adding some weekend challenges, including one on Midsummer Fest weekend, for which the center identifies different spots along the trails for hikers to seek out, take a selfie, and then present their selfie for a gift.

“For the first challenge you accomplish you get a Norskedalen hat from the gift shop,” Dubczak said. “And then for every subsequent challenge we’ve got hat pins of varying shapes and sizes and colors, and you just fill up your hat with different hat pins. This is something your whole family can do.”

Yearlong Fun Midsummer Fest is a fun-filled day, but there’s no need to wait for a special event to experience the natural and cultural features of Norskedalen. Guests can check in at the Thrune Visitors’ Center, which houses museum galleries and a gift shop, to pick up self-guided tour brochures to help guide them through the Bekkum Homestead. Cell phone tours are also available.

Volunteer docents are typically on hand in the Bekkum Homestead from noon to 3 p.m. daily to offer guided tours of the historic buildings; however, Dubczak recommends that visitors with set plans call ahead if they want a guided tour to ensure a docent will be available.

Guests can also pick up maps to guide them through the Helga Gundersen Arboretum, with its bubbling springs, ponds, waterfalls, and an accessible trail; as well as the various hiking trails that cross the property. There’s a trail to fit every age and skill level, including the popular Troll Trail, where the young and young-at-heart can have fun searching for the little Norwegian gnomes—known as nisse—that are hiding along the pathway.

26 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News

Whether it’s history, heritage, or feats of strength, Norskedalen has it all, in the middle of summer or any other time of year.—Mary Erickson

Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center is located at N455 O. Ophus Rd., Coon Valley, WI 54623. It’s open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more, visit norskedalen.org or call 608-452-3424.


Midsummer Fest is just one of many annual events held at Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center.

Music in the Valley

Interpretive signs along the Pine Loop Trail help guests learn about what they’re walking through. The Helga Gundersen Arboretum, with its bubbling streams and waterfalls, is a fun place to explore.

Midsummer Fest kicks o Norskedalen’s summer Music in the Valley season, a free outdoor concert series held on Wednesday evenings through mid-August. Guests are invited to bring blankets and lawn chairs to relax in as they enjoy an eclectic mix of music. Dinner is available for purchase in the Norskedalen shelter at each concert and is available on a rst-come, rst-served basis. However, guests are also welcome to carry in their own snacks and beverages.

Threshing Bee Dinner

Music in the Valley season ends with the annual Threshing Bee Dinner, generally held the second Wednesday of August. This event, featuring a farm-fresh dinner, pays homage to the old-time threshing bees, when neighbors came together to help each other with the harvest.

Twilight Tour

A more formal dinner is served in early September for the annual Twilight Tour, which features a three-course dinner catered by a local chef followed by a guided tour of the valley at twilight.

Civil War Experience

Reenactors bring the Civil War to life in October with an encampment on the Norskedalen grounds. The day typically features military drills and battle re-enactments, as well as demonstrations and music.

Ghoulees in the Coulees

One of the most popular events on Norskedalen’s calendar is Ghoulees in the Coulees, featuring haunted hikes and family-friendly trick-or-treating through the spookily decorated grounds. Visitors can help prepare for this event at the Pumpkin Carving weekend held a week before Halloween.

Old-Fashioned Christmas

Get ready for the holidays at Norskedalen’s Old-Fashioned Christmas, held the rst Saturday in December. At this lively event visitors can partake in traditional Norwegian holiday customs, including a meatball dinner.

Candlelight Hike

Celebrate winter at Norskedalen’s annual Candlelight Hike, typically held in February or March, depending on weather conditions.

Plans for 2024 events are still in the works; check norskedalen.org or call 608-452-3424 as events get closer to learn more details. Please note that some events require advanced registration.

WISC NSIN FAVORITES 27 wecnmagazine.com June 2024

WANTED: Paying cash for WWII ags, daggers, swords, guns, etc. Also, lever-action ri es. 715-340-1974.

WANTED: DEER TAGS, BACK TAGS. Trapping, bear, hunting licenses. Otter, sher, bobcat tags, party permits, old traps. 715255-9284 David Schober, W4234 Rock Creek Rd., Loyal, WI 54446.

CHAINSAWS WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE. Buying 1 or 100 McCulloch, Pioneer, Jonsereds, Echo, STIHL, Homelite, Remington, Mall. Buying all brands and sizes. Non-running, running, siezed, parts. Let me know what you have - will travel. Call Chainsaw Mike at 715-828-9414.

OLD MOVIES TO DVD / FD - Pro transferring 8mm, VHS, slides, audio, and all formats. Saving memories! DVD Productions Gene 715-827-2302.

HISTORIC CONCORDIA BALLROOM in Lacrosse. Dancing of all kinds—newly refurbished maple dance oor! Polka, swing, 2-step, waltz, tango, Salsa, rumba, samba, Cha Cha, folk, Contra, square, line, and lindy—with many free lessons. Live music and DJs. info@concordiaballroom.com 608-782-7049.


50 YEARS OF ANTIQUE OLD TOOLS , AC machinery, milk cans, steel wheels, old lumber pallets. 608-687-3022.

WANTED: BEAR TRAPS, large odd traps, and lever-action ri es. Traps for sale: beaver, coyote, and Newhouse traps. 715-563-6658.

E-BIKES FOR SALE. Let me get you on the right e-bike. Recycle Bike Shop Mobile, Boyceville, WI. Call or text Bicycle Larry 715-702-1452.

FOR SALE: EXCAVATORS AND DIGGERS. Kubota 151, also Lifton, Powerfab, and Truckhoe units. Used. $5,000-$20,000. Blair, WI. 608-852-7047.

WANTED: CHILDREN’S PEDAL CARS, pedal boats, pedal planes, pedal tractors. Consider parts or cars any condition. Leave message. Karl. 608-482-4783.

2022 GRAND DESIGN SOLITUDE RV, fth wheel, model 310GK. One owner. Immaculate. Under 4,000 miles. Must see. $72,000. 608-317-2273.

MAILBOX DOOR NOT STAYING CLOSED? Strong add-on magnet. No tools required. Rural style mailboxes. www.MAILNUT.com 715-967-2448.

WANTED: VINTAGE GAS PUMP WITH GLOBE ON TOP. Can be missing globe or old visible gas pump. 715-286-2729.

FUEL OIL BARRELS WANTED, OVAL SHAPE. 8’ or 10’ disc on wheels. Call 715427-3600. Leave message if no answer.

GARAGE FLOOR COATINGS, tougher than epoxy, salt and oil resistant. We grind and repair concrete before we coat it. Call 715-321-2188.

MCKAY NURSERY COMPANY - WISCONSIN GROWN SINCE 1897. Provider of quality shade & ornamental trees, fruit & owering trees, evergreens, shrubs, perennials, ground cover, and vines. Design services & delivery available. Contact Eric at ezlandscapewi@gmail.com or call 608387-4287. “Your McKay Independent Sales & Service Provider.”

FOR RENT: 2 BR CABIN on Big Round Lake, Hayward, WI. Next to water. Sleeps 5. Great beach. Call Janet 715-558-5803.

Classi ed ads reach more than 152,000 mailboxes. RATES: For non-members of Wisconsin rural electric co-ops: one insertion, $25 minimum (up to 20 words); additional words, $1.25 each. For members of Wisconsin rural electric co-ops: one insertion, $14 minimum (up to 20 words); additional words, $.70 each. Count name, address, and phone number as part of ad. Please include zip code. FOR PROOF OF MEMBERSHIP, please include your address label from your copy of the magazine. FREQUENCY DISCOUNTS: 2% discount for 3 months; 5% for 6 months; 10% for 12 months. DEADLINE: 1st of the month prior to the month in which the ad is to appear. All classi ed ads must be paid in advance. There is no agency discount on classi eds. Make check or money order payable to: WECA. Mail to: WECN—Classi eds, Attn. Jennifer, 6405 Century Ave., Ste. 102, Middleton, WI 53562. Ph: 608-467-4638. Email jennifer@weca.coop. We reserve the right to refuse ads.


Farming is a dangerous job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers in the top 10 civilian occupations with high fatal work injury rates. One of the hazards faced by farm workers is contact with electrical equipment. Follow these guidelines to help you stay safe:

l Use a spotter when operating large machinery near lines. A driver’s vantage point from the cab may not be su cient.

l Keep equipment at least 10 feet from lines—at all times, in all directions.

l Look up and use care when raising any equipment such as ladders, front-end loaders, or augers.

l Inspect the height of the farm equipment to determine clearance.

l Always remember to lower extensions to the lowest setting when moving loads.

l Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.

l If a power line is sagging or low, contact your electric co-op.

Source: SafeElectricity

Real Estate
Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News
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REACH MORE THAN 152,000 MAILBOXES EACH MONTH Advertise with us! geri@weca.coop
29 wecnmagazine.com June 2024 OUR 63rd YEAR PartsMartEditFor2024.indd 1 1/3/24 1:15 PM CALL 811 BEFORE YOU DIG 152,000 MAILBOXES EACH MONTH ADVERTISE WITH US 414-975-0917 WE'RE IN


1 Muscle Cars & Bikes—Eau Claire. Rock Falls Raceway, 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Heart-pounding muscle cars and motorcycles with open trials and eliminations. Fun for young and old. 715-875-4233.

1, 2 Rummage, Bake, and Food Sale—Tigerton. Morris Town Hall, 7 a.m.–4 p.m. Hosted by the Embarrass River Lions. 715-3260369.

1, 2 Hills of Juneau County Tractor and Car Show—Mauston. Bass Hollow Park, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Food available for purchase. Free admission. Bring wheeled machines and show them off! 608-547-1432.

2 June Dairy Breakfast—Jump River. Community Center, 8–11 a.m. Scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, biscuits and gravy, orange juice, milk, and coffee.

2 Import Drags—Eau Claire. Rock Falls Raceway, 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Drag races open to import and domestic 4- or 6cylinder cars racing down the dragstrip. Great environment for kids to safely watch fast cars up close. 715-875-4233.

2–10 Plant Sale—Eau Claire. Phoenix Park, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Northern Wis. Hosta Society selling hostas and perennials. 715-563-2884.

6–8 City-Wide Rummage Sales—Oconto. All day. Maps available at area businesses. Hours vary by sale.

7–9 Fresh Art Tour—Studios and galleries in Pepin, Pierce, and Buffalo Counties. Various locations, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Selfguided tour. Discover pottery, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, photography, textiles, and paintings. 715-577-8894.

8 Rusk County Fair ATV/UTV Ride—Rice Lake. Audie Lake Campground, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Registration at 9 a.m. Fee is $20/machine. Food and beverages for purchase. Cash raffle, basket raffles. Tour led by Rusk Riders. 715-205-6807.

8 Water Lantern Festival—Milwaukee. Veterans Park, 5:30–9:30 p.m. Food, games, activities, vendors, music, and thousands of lanterns reflected upon the water.

9 Southwest Wisconsin Fast Pitch Hall of Fame— Boscobel. Kronshage Park, 2–3 p.m. New inductees will be recognized at a

ceremony. A men’s and a girl’s fastpitch tournament will be held all weekend. Food and beer stand.

14–16 Polka Days—Birnamwood. City Park and Main Street, Fri. 5 p.m. through Sun. 6 p.m. Free admission. Rummage and craft sales, food trucks, and refreshments. Parade at noon on Sun. Camping available. 715-253-3277.

15 Raffle for a Cause–Northwest Wisconsin Cancer Center—Ashland. Tamarack Health Ashland Medical Center (outside in the North parking lot at 1615 Maple Ln), 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Rain or shine. Live music by Little Way, 4–7 p.m. Raffle drawings at 5 p.m. Walking tacos, Tetzners ice cream bars, and root beer. 715-685-5276.

19–23 Fair—Elroy. Schultz Park, all day. Horse pull $5. Fri. and Sat. livestock shows, truck and tractor pull $10, free music. Sat. dairy show, expanded youth livestock auction. Sun. dairy breakfast $5, pedal pull, celebrity donkey races $5, and a dog show. All weekend Badgerland midways, magic shows, hypnotist, food, exhibits, animals, free gate, and free parking. 608-633-2123.

21 Country Store and Luncheon—Cable. United Church of Christ, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Bake sale, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. and a salad bar luncheon, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, $12. UCC thrift shop will also be open for browsing. 715-798-3066.

21, 22 Parish Rummage Sale—Tomah. Queen of the Apostles School Gym, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Clothing, furniture, hardware, something for everyone! Bakery and lunch available.

21–23 Good Earth Festival—Livingston. Memorial Park, all day. Fri. night old timer’s fastpitch games. Garage sales, kid’s ball games, and more. Sun. chicken BBQ dinner at 10:30 a.m., parade at 1:30 p.m. 608-943-6745.

27 Pie and Ice Cream Social—Eau Claire. Saving Grace Lutheran Church, 4–7 p.m. BBQ plate, $8 and hot dog plate $7. Meal includes beans, chips, pickle, ice cream, pie, and beverage. Pie, ice cream, and beverage only $5. Take-outs available. Food tickets available in the church office or Thur. at the door. For tickets or more info, call 715-514-3552.

28–30 Rise & Shine Balloon Rally—Viroqua. Vernon County Fairgrounds, all day. Includes hot air balloons, food trucks, vendors, music, fun, and entertainment for all ages.

28–30 CTech Badger Classic—Eau Claire. Rock Falls Raceway, 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Classic muscle, stick shift machines, and an awesome car show! For more info, call 715-875-4233.

29 Flea & Craft Market—Coloma. Community Park, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Crafts, antiques, collectibles, rummage, flea market items, produce, baked goods, and more. Food and beverages available. Visit the Spalding Store & Carriage House Museum next door to the market.

29, 30 Mason Days—Mason. Various locations, 10 a.m.–11 p.m. Donkey baseball, parade, music, food, games, local history, corn hole, raffles, fireworks, and more. 715-765-4554.

29, 30 Coulee Region Gospel Choir and Orchestra Patriotic Concert—Holmen. High School Performing Arts Center, 3–4:45 p.m. A Patriotic Concert “Freedom’s Holy Light.” Doors open at 2:30 p.m. No ticket required, but free will offerings accepted. 608-792-0931.

30 Pie and Ice Cream Social—Mauston. Juneau County Historical Society Boorman House, 1–4 p.m.

Upload events directly to the wecnmagazine.com through the “Events” tab.

Wisconsin Events is a public service for our readers. Due to space limits, we may need to eliminate details, so be sure to include a phone number (with area code) where callers may obtain more info. If we receive more listings than space allows us to print, we reserve the right to select those we believe will be of interest to the greatest number of readers. Please no virtual events. Events can also be mailed to: WECN, Events, 6405 Century Avenue, Suite 102, Middleton, WI 53562-2200. DEADLINE: 1st of the month prior to the month in which the event is to appear.

Upload events to wecnmagazine.com

Upload photos directly to wecnmagazine.com through the “Submit a photo” tab.

Send photos of kids with animals, along with a brief description, to WECN Magazine, 6405 Century Avenue, Suite 102, Middleton, WI 53562-2200. Please include the name of your electric co-op. Photos will be returned. If in good-resolution, electronic format, photos may also be uploaded via wecnmagazine.com through the “Submit a photo” tab. By submitting, sender implies that he/she has rights to and owns the image, and grants WECN permission to use the image. By submitting, the parent or legal guardian also authorizes us the right to publish the image.

1. Blake is a third-generation farmer surrounded by Holstein heifers. Photo submitted by Tess Fagerland, a member of Riverland Energy. Photo credit: Designs by Denise Photography

2. Cory gives barn kitty, Enna, some snuggles. Photos submitted by Grandma Connie Hendrickson, a member of Vernon Electric.

3. Jackson helps a newborn calf stand. Photo submitted by Grandma Jodi Pauloski, a member of Central Wisconsin Electric.


Summer means fun in the sun and spending time in the water to cool o . But remember, electricity and water never mix! Read the safety tips below and ll in the blanks with the correct choice from the word bank. Psst! Check your work in the answer key.

1. When possible, use __________ operated or rechargeable devices when you’re near water sources like a swimming pool.

2. If you hear __________ while swimming, go inside until storms have passed.

3. Never bring __________ devices near a swimming pool or other body of water. Devices should be kept at least 10 feet away from water sources.

4. All outdoor electrical outlets should be covered and kept __________.

5. Never handle electrical devices if you are __________ from swimming or other water activities.

Kids and Critters June 2024 YOUNG MEMBERS
2 3 1 31 wecnmagazine.com June 2024 WORD BANK thunder wet battery dry electrical Answer Key: 1) battery 2) thunder 3) electrical 4) dry 5) wet
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