Bluestem's new home gets its electrical from an electrical cooperative, like the homes and businesses of many Greater Minnesotans. Some of our power as co-op members is in danger of dimming.
From our friends at Clean Up the River Environment (CURE), a grassroots rural environmental organization based in Montevideo, Minnesota:
Local control of electricity is under attack.
Basin Electric, an energy supplier for many co-ops across Minnesota and the Dakotas, is attempting take away co-op members ability to negotiate with local clean energy producers. This would put massive limitations on local control of clean energy in the future.
We can't let this happen.
Basin has attempted to keep their move under wraps from the general public and co-op members. They've given limited time for input and the little information made available is relatively inaccessible. Our local distribution cooperatives and Basin are responsible to us, co-op member owners. This action by Basin is not in the best interest of local co-op members, nor does it follow the cooperative principles for democratic control.
Tell Basin to follow the cooperative principles!
Questions can be directed to Erik Hatlestad, Energy Program Associate at CURE. Erik can be reached at email@example.com.
There's more here on the CURE website:
Electric cooperatives were founded in the spirit of America: democratic, local control. Since the early 1900’s rural Americans have bonded together in cooperative enterprise to address community and economic issues themselves and to wrest economic control from absentee corporate elites.
However, these democratic ideals have been sidelined.
In many states within Basin Electric’s service territory, electric cooperatives are subject to limited regulation. The assumption is that members self-regulate through the democratic control of their utilities. For some time now co-ops have moved in an undemocratic direction that marginalizes members in their own organizations. Not only has the flow of information been restricted so members cannot have meaningful input in the overall governance of their local cooperative, but the ability for members to participate in distributed clean energy generation has been strategically impeded.
There is no better example of the thwarting of member inclusion than the process surrounding the Joint PURPA Implementation Plan and the document itself.
The Cooperative Principles call for:
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Member's Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training, and Information
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community
Many of Basin’s distribution co-ops have done little to educate their members on the implications of surrendering local control and their local co-op’s rights under PURPA. Many Basin co-ops have not published information on the action in their local monthly newsletters and the implementation plan has received virtually no media attention. Beyond educating member owners of the actions of the utility that they (in theory) are in control over, members have not been given a reasonable opportunity to provide input in this comment making process. . .
If you're a member of a power co-op, check out the rest at CURE.
Photo: A picture of modern power in Greater Minnesota, via CURE.
Help CURE do its great rural work: Ordinarily, Bluestem asks for donations for our work at the end of posts. Today, we'd like to encourage readers to support the work of a genuinely rural, grassroots group that works for our landscapes, water, quality or life and values.
Follow this link to learn how you can give. If you live in Minnesota, There's a good chance you're downstream of these good folks working on behalf of the river.