About dakotavalleynorthernplains

Hi! I'm Power-On Katie, the voice behind Dakota Valley Electric's blog. I'll post articles from our monthly magazine and give you an inside perspective on our content. There will also be energy-efficiency tips and office updates posted here and on our allied cooperative's blog: blog.nplains.com Subscribe via email or RSS to stay informed. Thanks for reading!

The world lost a farmer…

“My goal in life? To someday be able to step back and see “Wehri Farms Mott ND” in crisp, bold decals on the door of a semi. To know that what I am doing is feeding thousands. To wake up every morning and be proud of my accomplishments and excited to start the day. To be able to look around me and see for miles all the hard work I have put into my life. To have a loving wife that helped me raise beautiful children to who someday I can pass it all down to. Someday.”  – Michael Wehri, 2013


At the age of only 19, Michael knew what he wanted out of life. He knew his responsibilities, and he was more than ready to undertake them… but as willing and eager as he was, Michael never got his someday. He had just finished double-checking the clearing of his equipment when the wind took a power line and caught the sprayer unnoticed.

He died on June 10, 2013.

On that day, the world lost a son, brother, nephew, friend, classmate…
the world lost a farmer.

Although this happened out in western North Dakota, it’s hitting home again working here at Northern Plains Electric Cooperative in Jamestown. In life, it’s all about the people we love… and Farm Safety is important wherever you may be!

What I’m learning in my internship here scares me. The number of accidents between farming equipment and power poles has more than tripled since 2009. In 2013, 134 accidents were reported.  They believe this increase has happened due to advanced in technology.  Farm equipment keeps growing, but the power lines remain the same height.

Michael Wehri was a classmate of mine at Mott-Regent High School and also one of my best friends. He was a one-of-a-kind guy. Multiple times, people told me that he was “the guy your parents would want you to marry.”

Here’s an example of the type of person Michael was: The guys came into class one day and told me I had a flat tire. Of course I didn’t believe them! I looked outside and sure enough – flat. They gave me a hard time. Michael, however, without even hesitating he said he’d change it during study hall. He even offered to take it to the shop for me when he was done. Once he stepped up, the others guys offered to help too. Michael was a leader. He was a role model.

I grew up in a larger town, I didn’t know people would willingly drop everything to help someone out. Michael taught me a lot about genuine kindness and doing the right thing.Coming from Jamestown, there were many weekends I traveled home. Occasionally, Michael would be in Whapeton or Fargo and pick me up on his way back to Mott. He’d carry my bags, hold doors open and hug me goodbye… just what a gentleman should do. He was the one to crown me as queen during Homecoming our senior year… and as you can see in the pictures below, he always had a thumbs up of encouragement and reassurance – most optimistic person I’ve ever known. During these moments, in class or on the road, I came to learn a lot about him… like his love of suckers, his fabulous fashion sense (he had a thing for watches) and his passion for music not only playing, but listening (to Kesha in particular).

Farming truly ran through his veins. In his free time he’d read magazines for farming equipment, or random manuals. It was just what he loved. It was his God-given purpose and he carried that through his last day.

In the end… it truly is the little things. Those small memories we all hang on to. The way Mike impacted my life will live on – this I promise.

Stay safe out there.

“Your Safety Matters to Us.”

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~Lexus Haut~


Electricity Remains a Good Value!

In today’s world, you won’t find many items that cost less than $5. You can purchase a gallon of milk, a gallon of gas or a Big Mac meal from McDonalds. But did you know that an average day’s worth of electricity costs less than $5?

Even in our country’s shifting energy climate, electricity remains a good value. In fact, electricity has the lowest cost per day of any of the items listed above. And not all of those items are necessary for daily life!

Daily_Cost_of_EnergyAs a summer intern at Dakota Valley Electric, I urge you to think about your daily necessities (electricity and gasoline, to name a couple), and then think about the cost of the special treats we allow ourselves to purchase on a weekly basis (maybe even on a daily basis for some items!). We don’t often question the cost of a Big Mac meal – it costs over $1 more to buy a Big Mac meal than it does to purchase a day’s worth of power. And yet, we frequently become upset if our electricity rates rise.

It makes sense; we have become increasingly reliant upon electricity. Electricity has, for many of us, gone from a luxury commodity to a necessity and an expectation. We expect the lights to come on when we flip the switch, and we expect our power to stay on during the best and worst conditions. How else would we keep our food fresh, our homes cool in the summer or warm in the winter? It is easy to cut a Big Mac out of your spending routine here and there to save a few dollars. But we cannot simply cut electricity out of our budgets if times get tough or we decide that we want to scale back our spending in order to save.

Perhaps that is why it is so upsetting to us when our rates increase, even if only in small increments. It is nearly impossible for us to think about what our lives would be like if we did not have electricity. If at times it doesn’t seem that electricity is affordable, remember – even as the demand for electricity grows – annual cost increases still remain low, especially when compared to other consumer goods such as medical care, education, gasoline and, yes, even Big Macs. Electricity is still a great bargain. And also remember this: Dakota Valley Electric, your local electric cooperative, is committed to making sure that you and your family always have safe, reliable and affordable electric service in your home.

So the next time you crave a Big Mac, remember your electric bill, and think about what a great deal you’re getting for your dollar!

Youth Tour!

Youth tour!! Ever heard of it? Each year Electric Cooperative Youth Tour brings nearly 1,500 high school students to Washington D.C. for the trip of a lifetime. It’s a fun filled week packed with awesome tours and valuable information. Students will not only get to learn about our nation’s capital – but the key roles electric cooperatives play in their local communities. For more information on the program and how to apply visit http://nplains.com/content/youth-tour!

Introducing summer intern – Lexus Haut!

Hi there! My name is Lexus Haut. I was born and raised here in Jamestown, ND. I graduated in 2012 from Mott Regent High School. When it comes to family, they mean the world to me!! My parents are Margo and Roger Haut and I have two brothers, Truman and Chandler. I am currently taking classes online, and spend what little free time I have working out, with a good book, or out with friends. This fall, I will be a junior with plans of attending MSUM to study advertising. I’ve been at UND for two years majoring in petroleum engineering but that’s not where my heart is. My real passion is in design. I’ve been a freelance graphic designer for almost ten years, and hope to have a successful job in that field someday. I’m so grateful for this opportunity! with my large background in design (and small one in energy) I hope to be a great asset this summer, and gain not only knowledge but some great experience!

Talk to you soon!!1620797_657341150991348_863380543_n

Dakota Air, Basin entertain 700 in Jamestown

Who listens to Merrill Piepkorn every morning on 91.5 FM’s Prairie Public? This girl does. I listen even during weeks like these when broadcasters trade their radio hats for fundraising ones. I long for the days when I can afford to donate to the wonderful news-gatherers of the world and taste the delicious chocolates they offer as incentive to those who give $120 or more. Maybe next year, NPR…

My favorite of Merrill’s are his Dakota Datebooks. I love the stories and the scandals, especially this one of the controversial gambling and alcohol-drinking at an Edgeley pool hall circa 1911. When the city demanded the owner close the pool hall’s doors, the owner then ran for city commission. His pool hall reopened after his successful campaign. Isn’t history fun??

So imagine my surprise to learn Merrill Piepkorn was in JAMESTOWN at an event sponsored by our dear friends and Basin Electric Cooperative! And imagine my dismay too: How could I MISS that??

According to Basin, “Once a month, the show takes the stage in towns ranging from Bismarck and Jamestown, to smaller towns like Hazen and Wishek. Each show is tailored to the host city. ‘When we’re in Hazen in coal country, we’ll do some coal mining songs. When we’re in Bismarck, of course, we did more shows about state government,’ Piepkorn says.”

What a treat! I’m sorry I wasn’t there.

Never fear though, Basin documented parts of the show so even if we couldn’t attend that evening, we can watch form the comfort of our computers.

Thanks Basin! And next time, let us know if you’re in town 🙂

Congrats to Susan German, Oakes, N.D., High School Band!

A small-town band from the heart of North Dakota makes a world of difference. That’s one of the reason’s Gov. Jack Dalrymple selected the group from Oakes, N.D., High School as his 2011 State Governor’s Band.

Students in Oakes’ band not only play proficiently, Dalrymple said, but they also perform annual community concerts and stage fundraising shows for breast cancer awareness and Haiti earthquake relief.

The 14- through 18-year-olds, under the direction of instructor, Susan German, performed for the governor, his wife and the entire school Friday.

Members of the Oakes, N.D., High School band perform for the governor, local dignitaries, community members and fellow students Friday. Gov. Jack Dalrymple selected Oakes as his 2011-2012 Governor's Band.

To greet the governor and his travel mates, Oakes residents created signs like this one which reads "From 'YOUR BAND' Welcome to Oakes Gov. and Mrs. D. ... You Rock N.D.!!" Signs posted on city streets, gas station marquees, classroom windows, etc., greeted the guests as they drove through the town of about 1,800 people.

First Lady Betsy Dalrymple takes in the myriad of welcome signs designed by students of Oakes, N.D. Public Schools. Gov. Jack Dalrymple like one of the signs so much, he removed it from the wall and asked to take it home.

Oakes mayor, and foreman of Dakota Valley's Oakes outpost, Monty Zimmer, addressed the crowd at Oakes High School's gymnasium, Friday. Zimmer said the students at Oakes High School work hard, and the governor's recognition was well-deserved.

For her hard work, the governor and Oakes community recognized Susan German, the director of the Oakes, N.D., High School Band. German graduated from Valley City State University in 1973. Since then, she taught at schools in Lisbon, Fullerton and Dickey before taking her current Oakes post in 1997.

How to reduce wire thefts, and the outages they spawn

Would you risk being hit by lightning for $100?

Seems a bit ludicrous, but desperate times cause folks to do foolish things. Thefts of copper, bronze, aluminum, and bronze are on the rise, at abandoned commercial buildings, empty homes, and—most dangerously—at power substations near neighborhoods.

We need your help to keep our equipment safe, prevent outages, and save lives. At an electric co-op in Oklahoma recently, metal thieves took off with about $100 worth of wire in a substation, but left behind a $1 million repair bill after a fire destroyed regulators, switches, and a $600,000 transformer. More than 3,500 consumers were temporarily left in the dark after the incident, although the co-op moved quickly to reroute power to affected areas.

It’s hard to understand why folks would put their life on the line for a few dollars. Many law enforcement officials believe that methamphetamine users are responsible for much of the problem. And the damage done to our system packs a big punch, since equipment can be ruined without the protection copper wires provide.

There’s also the potential for loss of life.

In 2010, metal theft-related deaths occurred in North Carolina, West Virginia, Illinois, and Ohio. The cost for scrap copper goes up and down, but recently it’s been on the rise—and so have robbery attempts. In January 2011 scrap copper sold for five times the amount it went for in 2001. We use copper to ground our equipment, protecting it from electrical surges and lightning by giving electricity a safe path to ground. We use a lot of copper wire in our substations, where we step-down high-voltage electricity arriving from distant power plants before it travels to your neighborhood. Then another transformer near your home—either mounted on a utility pole or in a green box on the ground—lowers the voltage again so you can use the power at home. Copper is an essential component every step of the way.

Our linemen are highly trained professionals who understand the dangers of working with electricity and take proper safety precautions. To protect the public we surround our substations with secure fencing and post warning signs. But some thieves will not be deterred. Please help us prevent these thefts. If you notice anything unusual, such as an open substation gate, open equipment, or hanging wire, call Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative immediately at (800) 342-4671. If you see anyone other than our utility personnel or contractors around substations or other electric facilities, call the police.