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Opt in to Operation Round Up

By Dennis Hill

When I paid my electric bill to Capital Electric Cooperative last month, the total included 47 cents that I voluntarily agreed to donate to a program called Operation Round Up.

The program (read more about it on page 20 of this issue) is terrific, and it’s easy to participate. All co-op members have to do is agree to “round up” the total of their electric bill each month to the next dollar. My electric bill last month was $72.53. I paid $73, with the difference going to the nonprofit corporation established by Capital Electric to donate all these contributions to persons in need or to  charitable

organizations offering food, shelter, clothing, health, education or similar services. In other months, my donation has been less than a dime or close to $1. Over the course of the year, most members donate about $6 to Operation Round Up.

Out of the 16 distribution co-ops that sell electric power in our state, 13 offer Operation Round Up. In the 20 years the program has been offered to co-op members in the state, co-op consumers have collectively donated about $5 million.

Each co-op that offers the program sets up a nonprofit corporation to receive member donations and make contributions. This nonprofit is governed by a board made up of cooperative members who decide which persons and organizations will receive contributions and the amount.
Palmetto Electric Cooperative near Hilton Head, S.D., was the electric cooperative that started Operation Round Up. One of our co-op managers, Jay Jacobson, who manages Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative and Northern Plains Electric Cooperative, said these two co-ops have collectively raised and contributed some $700,000 since they started the program. Jacobson shares in a video we posted on our YouTube site at that he is deeply impressed with the program. He says, “The folks in South Carolina have hopefully earned their place in heaven. All of us can look at this program and recognize that there are still opportunities for us to have an idea that’s going to make the world a little bit better.”

Those who take part in Operation Round Up have certainly made our state a better place. If you already take part in Operation Round Up, thank you. If you want to take part in your co-op’s program, just call your co-op and say you’ve now decided to voluntarily round up your electric bill each month.

Taking part in Operation Round Up gives co-op members an opportunity to be a part of something that is bigger than each one of us. It’s a heartwarming feeling to know that a few of pennies each month can make such a significant difference in the lives of so many.

Dennis Hill, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Dennis Hill, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email to




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