2021 Highlights

Posted: November 15, 2021, 12:18 pm

It’s a time of reflection. I’m grateful for my own family as well as our co-op family. At Cloverland Electric Cooperative, we’re driven by a sense of mission and purpose. Our team maintains a strong connection to our communities within the Eastern Upper Peninsula and our members. It is the collective work of all employees in all departments that makes our co-op run efficiently. Reflecting upon the accomplishments of 2021, I wanted to note select highlights for each department (all data is year to date).

To fill vacated positions, we onboarded nine new employees and promoted four employees internally. By the year’s end, we’ll celebrate 36 years of service for two retired employees. Among our new employees, we have three apprentices in St. Ignace (2) and DeTour (1). Our 119 employees across five divisions includes two new positions:

  • Hydro plant electrician – As co-op needs grow, we recognized the importance of an additional employee within this classification to join the electrician we’ve had on staff.
  • Operational systems specialist (currently recruiting) – as our system grows and our needs become more diverse, we recognize the need for this specialized position to ensure our infrastructure runs efficiently.

System control and dispatch operators worked through the storm and outage events through the year in their renowned professional and dedicated manner. In addition to restoring thousands of power outages, Cloverland’s line operations and right-of-way accomplishments include:

  • Building and connecting 235 new services;
  • Upgrading 344 existing service requests;
  • Replacing 135 existing poles due to age/decay;
  • Re-clearing approximately 300 miles of power line; and
  • Completing 296 tree maintenance service orders.

Safety continues to be a cornerstone of our culture that requires ongoing training. All employees completed annual first aid, CPR and blood borne pathogen training and field employees completed forklift training. In coordination with Fishbeck Engineering, we started a five-year spill prevention control and counter measure plan. We purchased five automatic external defibrillators for trucks in each division and 10 personal voltage detectors for apprentices and the on-call lineman in each division.

As a prime example of teamwork that serves our mission, our generation, engineering and operations divisions completed an 8 MW generator replacement in Dafter, which switched inefficient generation with resources to enhance the co-op’s energy resource objectives. All teams had a challenging year with supply limitations, materials pricing and delays affecting ongoing maintenance schedules.

The 14-person hydro plant team ensured all generating assets are in top shape, including:

  • Completion of a 2 ½ year generator excitation and governor upgrade project on all 74 turbine/generator units;
  • Rewinding and refurbishment of four generators;
  • Ongoing maintenance of the intake log boom, canal headgates and turbines; and
  • Launched a comprehensive study to assess the options and associated costs/benefits to improve the efficiency of hydro turbines.

Our engineering staff focused on areas to improve the co-op’s ability to refine existing assets and new ones on the horizon that will contribute to greater safety and reliability of our distribution and transmission company systems. Specific highlights include:

  • Completed construction of the new electrical distribution substation in the Cooks area. Once commissioned into service, this project will improve electrical system reliability and performance to the Garden Peninsula, Manistique and Gulliver;
  • Continued with construction progress to install new communications and real-time control systems throughout the electrical distribution system to provide greater system monitoring and control of distribution equipment;
  • Assisted the American Transmission Company to remove old 138 kV electrical submarine cables and systems across the Straits of Mackinac and assisting with replacement submarine cables;
  • Acquired new unmanned aerial vehicles (“drones”) and FAA certified a system engineer to initiate patrol and maintenance flights on co-op assets; and
  • Installed and commissioned equipment allowing for the Heritage Sustainable Energy solar generation facility to interconnect with our distribution system, providing a great renewable energy resource to the co-op’s renewable energy profile.

Our information technology (IT) department completed primary datacenter equipment replacements and upgrades. They transitioned to alternate vendors for an annual cost reduction while expanding the ability for our workforce to stay connected with video and messaging software. In addition, the IT team upgraded 20 employees from desktop PCs to laptop solutions to further support a hybrid work environment.

Our business development and communications team achieved two FAA drone certifications, researched and coordinated electric vehicle resources for members, created a digital welcome packet for new members, expanded our social media channels to include YouTube and completed three “Tomorrow’s Talent” videos that showcase three co-op career paths. Read more about the hydroelectricity exhibit they created on page 11. They also enhanced promotion, fundraising and participation with our non-profit foundation, Cloverland Cares, which awarded $6,000 in scholarships and $2,800 in grants to food banks this year

Our member services team responded to more than 34,000 calls, processed 6,216 service orders and 288,411 payments – and that’s not including fourth quarter data!

Our accounting department completed another year with a clean audit and no adjustments. As of August 31, they processed 484 work orders valued at $2,243,362. Year to date, our accounts payable team has processed 6,675 invoices and 3,931 checks and issued 2,300 paychecks.

Our management team is blessed to work with teams who take lots of pride in the work they do each day. At the heart of these achievements is you––the members we proudly serve. I’m thankful for the positive impact we continue to make despite challenges we face with increasing costs for materials, power supply and more.

On behalf of our Cloverland team across the Eastern Upper Peninsula, we wish you a bright holiday season.