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Great River Energy comes in under budget for 2013

Great River Energy had one of its best years ever in 2013.

During the electric cooperative’s annual meeting June 4, company leaders celebrated the past year’s success, and looked ahead to a bright future.

“Financially and operationally, 2013 was a great year,” said GRE’s President and CEO, David Saggau. “We are off to a strong start in 2014, and we continue to see positive results from actions we have taken on behalf of our membership.”

In 2013, GRE kept operations and maintenance expenses $16.1 million below budget while recording margins of $42.8 million. In addition, the company was able to defer $13.8 million to apply to future rates.

Last August, GRE’s board of directors passed a resolution to mitigate the business risks associated with impending regulations of emissions from existing power plants. Among the strategies was a decision to accelerate the depreciation of GRE’s coal-based generation resources and transition away from a generation portfolio that is heavily dependent on coal.

“I am very optimistic that the decisions we have made and the work we have done to prepare for these regulations will serve our membership well,” added Saggau.

The company has also championed a market-based approach to complying with greenhouse gas rules that has gained interest across the country, including from regulators.

GRE Board Chair Michael Thorson stated that recent positive returns are the result of a combination of a dedicated board of directors, strong distribution cooperatives and talented staff.

Annual meeting attendees were the first to see the recently completed 250-kilowatt solar array at GRE’s headquarters site in Maple Grove, Minn. The company has plans to work with its member cooperatives on an additional 18 solar projects, each with a capacity of 20 kilowatts, over the next 18 months.

During the board of directors’ reorganization meeting following the annual meeting, Michael Thorson (Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative, Wadena) was re-elected board chair; Brad Leiding (BENCO Electric Cooperative, Mankato) was elected board vice chair; Gary Wilson (Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric, Owatonna) was re-elected secretary, and Robert Thompson (East Central Energy, Braham) was re-elected treasurer.

In addition to the officers, the following directors were elected to GRE’s 24-member board:

-Thomas Spence, Arrowhead Cooperative, Inc., Lutsen

-Reuben Kokesch, Brown County Rural Electrical Association, Sleepy Eye

-Don Holl, Connexus Energy, Ramsey

-Jim Leroux, Connexus Energy, Ramsey

-Peggy Kuettel, Cooperative Light and Power, Two Harbors

-Margaret Schreiner, Dakota Electric Association, Farmington

-Clay Van De Bogart, Dakota Electric Association, Farmington

-Joe Morley, East Central Energy, Braham

-David Hernke, Goodhue County Cooperative Electric Association, Zumbrota

-Tim Kivi, Itasca-Mantrap Cooperative Electrical Association, Park Rapids

-Dale Anderson, Kandiyohi Power Cooperative, Spicer

-Bob Bruckbauer, Lake Country Power, Grand Rapids

-Joseph “Dale” Long, Lake Country Power, Grand Rapids

-Ken Hendrickx, Lake Region Electric Cooperative, Pelican Rapids

-Randy Hlavka, Mcleod Cooperative Power Association, Glencoe

-Harold Harms, Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative, Aitkin

-Lee York, Nobles Cooperative Electric, Worthington

-Bruce Leino, North Itasca Electric Cooperative, Inc., Bigfork

-Audrey Hjelle, Runestone Electric Association, Alexandria

-Dennis O’Donnell, Stearns Electric Association, Melrose

Great River Energy is a not-for-profit electric cooperative owned by 28 member cooperatives, including Lake Region Electric Cooperative out of Pelican Rapids, which serves customers in Otter Tail County.