Todd-Wadena Electric changes headquarters electricity from city of Wadena electric to their own
With their headquarters under construction, TWEC decided to make the change to provide their own electric service at the building.
The lights at Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative’s new headquarters building came on Sept. 29, powered for the first time by their own electric service rather than the City of Wadena’s service. The change will save TWEC approximately $6,000 a year in electric costs, according to TWEC President and CEO Dan Carlisle.
“Historically I think we look back and just realize that every year we’ve been paying a higher rate for our electric service that’s needed here at our headquarters than we needed to pay,” Carlisle said.
In order to make this change, TWEC added a 1 mile underground distribution line from their Hewitt substation to the headquarters building, according to Carlisle’s September column . One of the ways the electric rates for the headquarters will be lower is by purchasing electricity from Great River Energy, TWEC’s power supplier, which includes an interruptible rate.
“An interruptible rate can offer significant rate savings because the member agrees that GRE can control the load during energy peaking times. By shaving energy use during the peak time when it is most expensive, GRE can purchase energy at much lower prices,” Carlisle said in the column.
A new generator will also help with the interruptible rate and provide back-up service, according to the column. The savings will also benefit members, according to Carlisle.
“We enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the city and they provided us with wonderful service,” Carlisle said.
With a location on Jefferson St. from 1940-49 and on Hwy 10 since 1949, TWEC’s headquarters have been in the city of Wadena’s electric service territory. Minnesota statutes on assigned electric service areas were added in 1974 and maps from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission outline which company serves customers in what areas. The electric service territories are to remove competition, avoid redundancies and increase efficiencies, such as avoiding customers having three transformers in their backyard but only needing one for their electric utility provider, according to city of Wadena utilities superintendent Dave Evans.
The construction of TWEC’s new headquarters, still at their location on Hwy 10, made the change the right time, according to Carlisle. He said the statute that allows electric utilities to service their own building in another utility’s electric service area has been on his radar since he became TWEC president in Oct. 2018; he has worked as their legal counsel for over 10 years.
The state statute, 216B.40 Exclusive Service Right; Service Extension, states, “Except as provided in sections 216B.42 and 216B.421, each electric utility shall have the exclusive right to provide electric service at retail to each and every present and future customer in its assigned service area and no electric utility shall render or extend electric service at retail within the assigned service area of another electric utility unless the electric utility consents thereto in writing; provided that any electric utility may extend its facilities through the assigned service area of another electric utility if the extension is necessary to facilitate the electric utility connecting its facilities or customers within its own assigned service area.”
The 216B.40 statute first applied to substations and grew to include offices, as Evans said.
“When they (TWEC) want to do that and serve within us, I think that’s fine. I would love to have them as a customer,” Evans said. “I think we’ve provided good service to them, we’ve kept outages to a minimal, we have redundant service to them so we can feed them from a couple different directions if we have issues.”
Evans said the city has been glad to have TWEC as a customer and that they are “not that large of a customer” so the city’s electrical system is not largely impacted. TWEC has decreased their electricity use over the past 20 years, according to Evans.
“They’re a good customer but it’s no different than a downtown business if they go out of business and they close their doors, we keep operating,” Evans said.
TWEC’s new headquarters is expected to be more electrically, energy and work efficient as well as have beneficial electrification displays for members which have environmental efficiencies, according to Carlisle.