Part of ECE’s commitment to community is being a good neighbor and being there for others when they need help. This is why, when the city of North Branch approached ECE regarding its ability to continue operating its electric utility, we welcomed the conversation. While I caution that there is work left to do, I want to share the conversation thus far.
Due to a number of reasons, North Branch Water & Light (NBWL) was on a path to being overwhelmed. The commission has decided it is in the best interests of its customers to wind down the utility, affecting approximately 2,000 homes and businesses within the city of North Branch. Because ECE serves much of the surrounding areas, this past summer we signed agreements regarding emergency mutual aid as well as operational support.
Right now, our power supplier, Great River Energy (GRE), is working toward an agreement that would facilitate a complete transfer of service. The power supplier known as Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency has a contract with NBWL until 2050, an obligation that GRE would need to assume for ECE to be able to distribute electricity to the city.
Meanwhile, we’re reviewing financials and the value of the electrical system to ensure any deal would be in the best interest of our entire membership. From a distribution standpoint, picking up a well-populated service area is advantageous for ECE’s bottom line. We recognize that this change could cause concern for the residents of North Branch and we plan to communicate regularly throughout the process.
As this exciting potential project takes shape, I want to personally remind North Branch residents that going from a municipality to a cooperative has many advantages! Becoming part of ECE allows access to things like Operation
Round Up grants, scholarship opportunities, capital credits payouts, and of course our exceptional service and reliability.
Being a good neighbor—to both current and prospective members—is one of our core principles. Please keep an eye on our communications as we move forward with this project.
At your service we remain,