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As autumn turns colder, East Central Energy (ECE) is still thinking about butterflies. The cooperative was recently named the first electric co-op, and the first applicant from the energy sector, to receive a Certificate of Inclusion into the Monarch Butterfly Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA).

Many species, like the monarch butterfly, rely heavily on voluntary conservation efforts. The CCAA provides an incentive to engage in pollinator-friendly activities. To participate, the co-op agreed to implement specific measures that reduce or eliminate threats to the monarch butterfly. This includes targeted herbicide application, which helps control undesirable vegetation and restore native plant communities; conservation mowing that promotes habitat and minimizes impacts on monarch breeding and migration; and clearing the way for the desired ecosystem of compatible plants.

“We decided to pursue the CCAA early because our vegetation management style already aligned so perfectly with the terms of the agreement,” explains Andy Olson, Forestry Supervisor. “We’ve been working this way for years and are proud to be part of this first-ever nationwide conservation agreement.”

By avoiding the disruption of nectar-bearing plants, the cooperative has created a much more diverse ecosystem. This has saved the co-op money, and will continue to benefit members for years to come. “Partnering with the program has provided more benefits than we originally expected,” Olson continues. “Because we are essentially ahead of the curve, we’re protected against citations from future regulation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for ‘incidental take’ of an endangered species.

ECE Member Account Analyst Alicia Kroll writes for the co-op’s Powering our Pollinators blog. She mentions, “This all started with a simple question: ‘What more could ECE do for pollinators?’” Since then, the co-op has started transforming areas in Braham, MN, and Superior, WI, into additional pollinator habitat, greatly reducing maintenance costs.

To follow the progress of ECE’s pollinator gardens, visit

Contact: Lynzie Kelly, Community Relations Coordinator