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Rural electric cooperative leaders gather at the Minnesota Rural Electric Association’s 83rd annual meeting

by | Mar 26, 2024 | Press Releases | 0 comments

(MAPLE GROVE, MINN) – The Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) held its 83rd annual meeting with the theme “Powering Tomorrow Together” at the St. Paul River Centre in late March.

In his presentation, MREA CEO Darrick Moe warned of threats to reliability in Minnesota if the state doesn’t proceed carefully with legislation relating to providing Minnesota’s ongoing electricity needs. MREA works in a bipartisan manner, working with both parties to shape legislation impacting cooperatives.

“Reliability and affordability cannot be taken for granted in the face of the policy pressures that are underway,” Moe said. He also provided highlights of a new line worker apprenticeship skills training and testing program that MREA initiated in 2024 to enhance the safety capacity of Minnesota’s cooperatives.

Moe also highlighted the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International Program that is sending line workers from Minnesota and Iowa to Guatemala to help electrify rural villages in June. The International Program has connected 160 million people in 48 countries since the 1960s. Minnesota cooperatives are contributing the funding to make this effort possible.

MREA’s Board Chair Wes Waller spoke about MREA’s accomplishments over the last year. He talked about the positive state of programs at MREA and highlighted the improvements in safety and communications. He thanked the staff for everything that was accomplished over the last year.

Other reports at the meeting included CoBank’s Matt Hale, VP of electric distribution division; Alison Deelstra, regional vice president of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation; and Tim Velde, board member of NRECA. Also, McLeod Cooperative Power and McLeod United Way Activity Scholarship Program received the Minnesota Touchstone Energy Community Award.

MREA’s management team provided updates on safety programs, communications, events and finances.

During the legislative day, held the day before the business meeting, members received a legislative update from Jenny Glumack, MREA’s director of government affairs, and heard a robust discussion between legislators during the panel discussion.

A special thank you to legislators on the panel: Sen. Nick Frentz, District 18; Rep. Patty Acomb, District 45B; Sen. Jason Rarick, District 11; and Rep. Chris Swedzinski, District 15A; along with moderator Blois Olson, CEO of Fluence Media. The discussion among these energy committee leaders presented a lively cross-section of views relating to Minnesota’s energy policy.

The MREA board welcomed two new board members, Tracey Lauritzen, People’s Energy Cooperative and Shelly Peterson, Connexus Energy, who were elected at the meeting.

The event concluded with an inspiring message from Tom Thibodeau of Viterbo University, who discussed the amount of fatigue Americans face today and encouraged the group to sustain their important efforts.