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Frequently Asked Questions

Where does Beltrami Electric purchase our electrical power?

Where is our electrical power generated?

What is the first thing I should do when the power goes out?

When I call about an outage, what information do I need?

How does the co-op base its rates?

What is the Access Charge?

What is the Purchased Power Adjustment (PPA)?

What is the Renewable Energy Market Adjustment (REMA)?

What is deregulation and how will it affect Beltrami Electric?

If I'm building a new home, how much will it cost to run service to my residence?

What is off-peak and why do I hear so much about it?

What is a Turtle meter?

What are capital credits?

When are capital credits allocated?

How are Beltrami Electric board members elected?

Where does Beltrami Electric purchase our electrical power?

The power Beltrami Electric distributes is purchased from Minnkota Power Cooperative, our wholesale power supplier based in Grand Forks, N.D. Minnkota is owned by the 11 distribution cooperatives it serves. The primary source of energy is the Milton R. Young Station near Center, N.D.

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Where is our electrical power generated?

Minnkota owns and operates a number of generation stations located throughout the region. The primary generation stations are located in west-central North Dakota and use lignite for fuel. Other power sources include the two Minnkota-owned diesel powered generators located in Grand Forks, N.D. and Harwood, N.D. Some customers have co-generation plants operating on waste wood products. Minnkota also purchases power from other power suppliers and receives a hydro allocation from the Western Area Power Administration. See an illustration of how it is created here.

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What is the first thing I should do when the power goes out?

The first thing you should do is check your circuit breaker to see if that is where the problem occurred. Next, you should check to see if your neighbor’s power is out as well. If this is the case, you should call the outage reporting number 218-444-2540 or 800-955-6083 to report the outage. It's a good idea to have this number handy in case an outage occurs.

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When I call about an outage, what information do I need?

When reporting an outage you should tell the operator your location number, which is located on your bill. Each location number corresponds with the mapping system linemen use when trying to pinpoint the cause of the outage. If they know your location number, they have an easier time of locating the problem, thus restoring power more quickly.

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How does the co-op base its rates?

One tool cooperatives use to substantiate their rates is a cost of service study. This tells cooperatives how their existing rates are performing and gives a breakdown of costs to each rate schedule. It also determines if there is any cross-subsidization between rate classes. Once rate classes are identified, a rate is designed to recover the costs (both fixed and variable) associated with providing that customer with power.

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What is the Access Charge?

As a Cooperative member, the Access Charge is your share of the cost for wires, transformers, service drop and meters that give you, a member, access to the electric grid. Unlike a privately owned utility, rural electric cooperatives have fewer customers per mile of line to share the costs of the infrastructure. This results in different customer service (Access) charges based on each utilities customer base. The current Access Charge is $29.50.

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What is the Purchased Power Adjustment (PPA)?

It is a direct pass through of changes in cost (either increases or decreases) of purchased wholesale power from Minnkota which appears on your bill each as a separate line item. This additional line item on bills will be adjusted as needed, depending on the cost of whole sale power. This allows the cooperative to be more flexible when recouping fluctuations in whole sale energy costs instead of estimating them into the overall electric rate. This is a variable rate that is determined by the average of the previous 12 months.

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What is the Renewable Energy Market Adjustment (REMA)?

It is a surcharge of $.004 per kWh used which appears on your bill as a separate line item. It is due to a budget shortfall Minnkota experienced because of its sale of excess wind power into a depressed energy market. The sales are due to the times when wind power is produced in periods when the need for electricity is low for members.

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What is deregulation and how will it affect Beltrami Electric?

Deregulation refers to the changes in the laws that regulate electric utilities. In a restructured industry, customers can choose the generating company from where they purchase their electricity. Currently in Minnesota, customers receive complete service from the local utility that is assigned by law to serve their area. Under restructuring, each electric utility would be divided into three separate units: the generating company, the transmission company, and the distribution company. Customers could choose their generating company but the electricity would still be delivered by the local utility through the same transmission and distribution currently used.

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If I’m building a new home, how much will it cost to run service to my residence?

New members are required to pay a $50 membership fee, a $350 (plus tax) setup fee and a $225 security deposit. Existing members requesting a new service are required to pay the $350 (plus tax) setup fee. If the location of the service point is more than 250 feet from existing power lines, there is a charge for each additional foot. Most customers use single-phase power and the charge is $8 per foot for every foot over 250 feet. Please note, that if the electrical need is run to a non-standard service, customers will be required to pay for the entire length at $8/foot.

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What is off-peak and why do I hear so much about it?

This is an option that customers can use to reduce the cost of heating their homes and other buildings. Off-peak is a term used to describe the load management program, meaning that electric equipment is shut off during periods of peak electric demand. The specific definition of off-peak is heating equipment such as underfloor storage cable that is on at night and shut off each day. These customers have either a dual fuel or a thermal storage heating system. The reason the off-peak program has become so popular is because of the savings made possible by the low-cost (kwh) rate and the many electric heating options available.

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What is a Turtle meter?

A Turtle is a device that reads your meter automatically. The name Turtle is the manufacturer's name for the product that we use. This electronic device records the electrical use at the location and reports it to the cooperative's office. Customers with a Turtle installed have their meters read automatically, rather than having to read it themselves and record it on their monthly statement.

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What are capital credits?

Since Beltrami Electric is a not-for-profit organization, current members (consumers) and past members share in any margins the co-op achieves. As a member of the co-op, you are entitled to a share in these margins. When a margin is realized in any given year, your share of that margin is recorded as your capital credit allocation. The goal is to ultimately refund this credit to you in the form of a check. Meanwhile, it serves to pay back past capital credits and to provide adequate cash flow for reinvestment in the co-op (i.e. maintenance, construction, etc.). Credits are based on the amount of electricity you use. The more you use, the more credit allocated to your account.

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When are capital credits allocated?

Beltrami Electric's board of directors considers the return of capital credits on an annual basis. Last year, nearly $1 million was returned to current and former members. Checks were mailed in mid-December. Capital credits are also retired to the estates of deceased members on a present-value basis to ease the closing of the estate.

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How are Beltrami Electric board members elected?

Each year the cooperative holds district meetings on a rotational basis at which members nominate candidates for the board of directors from their district. The top two candidates in each district based on popular vote are then placed on the general election ballot where members can vote for one director in each district up for election. The election is conducted my mail and ballots are mailed in mid-April prior to the annual meeting. Election results are announced at the annual meeting. Board members serve a three-year term and can serve four consecutive terms before they must step down. They can run again however, after four years.

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