The Next 80 Years
MLEC is considered critical infrastructure and has the opportunity
to become more efficient, effective, and flexible by investing in a new
operations center in a new location. It is our goal to foster effective
communication between Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative and our
membership to promote mutual support and understanding.
Our needs have evolved since this facility was built. Serving our members now requires more equipment, bigger trucks, and broader offerings. We believe the time is right to make this move for our members, our employees, and the future of MLEC.Harold Harms, MLEC Board President
Frequently Asked Questions
MLEC’s board and management have been discussing the need for a new operations center and headquarters for 10 years.
MNDOT’s decision to redo Highway 169; a decision that will remove our two access entries and take 20 feet of property along 169.
MLEC is taking advantage of favorable factors, including historically low interest rates and opportune land with future-proof flexibility.
Our goal is to competitively position MLEC to serve its members for the next 80 years.
A preliminary 10-Year Financial Forecast budgeted up to $13 million for a new facility and fiber expansion with little or no financial impact on the membership.
We are currently engaging designers and builders and will have a more accurate estimate after reviewing bids.
We do not anticipate new construction having an impact on members rates.
With lower interest rates, Great River Energy’s wholesale power rate reductions and MLEC’s strong financial position, an extremely conservative 10-Year Financial Forecast does not anticipate a rate increase for MLEC members until 2027 – even with the addition of a new operations center and fiber expansion.
The site is strategically located on Highway 169 and near Highway 18. That moves MLEC closer to the majority of its members, the bulk of outages and maintenance, and the two substations with the highest energy load.
We have analyzed remodeling/rebuilding but it’s limiting. We’re looking longer term. Critical infrastructures like MLEC are evolving with innovations that serve our members. We need future flexibility because innovation means change. For example, today, we’re expanding the MLEC Fiber offering to help our members bridge rural America’s broadband accessibility gap. In just one year, we have doubled the amount of MLEC Fiber Internet customers. Other emerging opportunities span alternative energies, energy storage, standby generators, distributed generation and electric vehicle technologies. These new technologies mean opportunities for growth and expansion. A new facility will be built from the ground up with the next 80 years in mind.
MLEC is now reviewing new facility options, including what it will look like and who will design and construct it. The entire process is being handled with due diligence and transparency.
Once the project begins, a new operations center and headquarters can be completed in about 18 months.
The MLEC Board of Directors evaluated all information and made the best decision for the future of MLEC and its members. The directors have been chosen by the membership, among the membership ranks, to make decisions on their behalf. The directors voted on behalf of the membership with the intent of making the best decision for the future of MLEC and the its membership.
MLEC has taken into consideration input from our members, contacted landowners, and has continuously looked at different parcels of land listed for sale. Finding a new home for MLEC has proven to be difficult with 51% of Aitkin County being jurisdictional wetland. In September 2020, a 40 acre parcel was purchased by MLEC. The property is high ground and located at the heart of our service territory where 65% of MLEC members reside.
We will continue to serve our communities by supporting local programs and donating time and resources the way we always have. We will continue to work with local businesses for a variety of things such as supplies, vehicles, repairs, banking, and advertising. We live here, work here, and want to see the establishments in our communities thrive.
Operation Round Up Grants, participating in community celebrations, donating to our schools, and volunteering for the greater good are all things that will not change.
Members can contact their elected board member or the MLEC office.