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Dennis Hill

We Shine as One

By Dennis Hill

The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) is kicking off the New Year with its 71st annual meeting the first week of January in Bismarck.

At this meeting, REC directors and delegates from across the tate will adopt resolutions that express our beliefs on public policy issues ranging from energy to agriculture to quality of life concerns. The meeting will also feature a visit from Jo Ann Emerson, who is the chief executive officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, based in the Washington, D.C. area; and an educational session on how the changing population demographics of North Dakota will affect our future.

This annual meeting is a good reminder of what the rural electric cooperative program and movement has meant to North Dakota. Since the first farm received electric power in 1937, the rural electric program has grown to include 21 electric cooperatives that generate, transmit and distribute electric service to some 160,000 meters; it has made an investment of some $6 billion in electric facilities; and today the RECs provide more than 50 percent of the power sold at retail in the state.
NDAREC supports this network of electric cooperatives by:

  • Helping create a positive legislative, regulatory and business climate in which RECs can safely and successfully deliver services;
  • Advancing the value of the electric cooperative network in the state through information, member education and communication resources;
  • Supporting the directors, managers and employees who deliver the power of human connections with industry education and safety training; and
  • Adding new wealth to the economy by helping create, retain or expand primary sector businesses and community-based infrastructure that improves the quality of life for the state’s citizens.

NDAREC, as the trade association for the state’s electric cooperatives, strongly believes there is more to be accomplished in each of these areas by working together. In the early days of rural electrification, there were many who said, “It can’t be done,” or, “It makes no economic sense to electrify rural America.” But by working together — much of it through NDAREC — the REC movement and program grew to the point where Elywn B. Robinson, in his book “The History of North Dakota,” said this about the impact our movement had on the state’s development: “The great change, however, was rural electrification.”

At annual meetings like NDAREC’s 71st, participants will resolve to keep working together, as there’s much more to accomplish in the years ahead to power our state’s growing economy. As in the past, we’ll continue to succeed by following the principle that “Many hands make light work.”

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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