Co-op Participates in Northern Exposure Safety & Preparedness Exercise

By Abby Moran 

Part of the cooperative difference at Cloverland Electric Cooperative originates from the set of principles followed by more than 900 electric cooperatives in the nation. One of the seven cooperative principles is education, training and information. In addition to a robust electrical safety program, Cloverland employees also engage in variety of other training programs including cybersecurity, emergency preparedness and operational safety.

National Guard trucks lined up in the Cloverland Electric Cooperative parking lot
National Guard vehicles at Cloverland's Dafter, MI headquarters.

This emphasis on safety and preparedness led Cloverland to participate in the Northern Exposure training exercise coordinated by local law enforcement and the Michigan National Guard in April 2022. The training storyline included extreme droughts across the Upper Peninsula causing wildfires and extensive power outages. The exercise consisted of actors protesting extended outages at the cooperative’s headquarters. As the protesters’ intensity grew, the National Guard arrived to assist local law enforcement. This exercise gave Cloverland employees the opportunity to observe an agency response scenario and test internal safety measures in a controlled situation.

“Safety and preparedness are at the core of Cloverland’s culture and aligns with our mission to deliver reliable and affordable energy solutions to our 34,000 members,” states Cloverland’s President and CEO, Mike Heise. “We are thankful for the opportunity to participate in this exercise with local law enforcement and the Michigan National Guard.”

About 30 National Guard soldiers were on-site with about eight soldiers acting as protesters. The exercise lasted about two hours, followed by a mission de-brief with soldiers and participating Cloverland staff. Northern Exposure exercises were also conducted in Delta, Mackinac, Marquette, Alger, Dickinson, Iron, Ontonagon, Gogebic and Schoolcraft counties this spring.

National Guard soldiers participating in a riot training at Cloverland's Dafter, MI headquarters. Soldiers are in riot gear in the parking lot.
National Guard soldiers participating in a training exercise at Cloverland Electric Cooperative.

“Training is important to ensure we are prepared for various situations,” states Cloverland’s Director of Engineering, Brian Lavey. “This exercise provided an opportunity to test our internal protocols, identify areas of opportunity and communicate additional safety measures where needed.”

As a USDA Rural Utilities Service borrower, Cloverland is required to exercise its emergency response plan at least annually to ensure operability and employee familiarity with the plan. Cloverland’s participation in this exercise and post-exercise debriefings fulfilled this requirement for 2022. Following the training exercise, Cloverland evaluated areas of opportunity to harden preparedness for the future.