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Cool start to Co-op Month

October 4, 2019

Happy National Co-op Month, everyone! October is a special time for Minnkota and all of our member cooperatives and cooperatives around the country to celebrate what co-ops are about – serving our communities.

In Minnkota’s service territory, Co-op Month means two things – watching the sky for the season’s first flakes of snow (yep, I saw you cringe) and getting member-consumers together for a big meal or treats to show appreciation.

On Thursday, I ticked both of those things off my October list as I hit the road in the Bolt to Red Lake Electric Cooperative’s Member Appreciation Day in Red Lake Falls, Minn.

I attended this event with the Bolt last year, and this is what it looked like by the time I got back to Grand Forks:

One year ago (Oct. 10, 2018) we had our initial hefty snow of the season – the Bolt’s first journey in a Minnesota winter!

Fortunately the serious snowfall hasn’t quite crept east into Grand Forks County and Minnesota yet this year (sorry, rest of North Dakota), so the only thing I’d be battling on the 50-mile drive to Red Lake Falls was the cool, 40-degree temperatures.

It was finally time to turn on the heat!

I left with a full battery and 205 miles of range, knowing that I would have plenty of flexibility with an only 100-mile round trip to make. So I cranked up the climate control, threw on the heated seat and steering wheel and cruised the Minnesota highways in cozy comfort.

I pulled into the Red Lake Electric garage with 145 miles of remaining range and, just like last year, the smell of pulled pork and cheesy potatoes hit me like a hug.

I love Co-op Month.

The Bolt started a lot of deep discussions among the 150-plus Red Lake Electric members at the Member Appreciation lunch.

I staged the car, set up my EV materials and then watched members flood into the building. Many of them found the food line before coming to check out the EV and ask questions. Let’s be honest, you would do the same. But once they had full bellies, this co-op community was still hungry for facts.

Many of the attendees remembered the car from last year’s snowy trip to the event. “A little easier drive for you this time?” one man asked. I replied that the EV actually handled incredibly well in the snow. With the brisk autumn air hinting at winter, I had a lot of questions about performance in subzero weather. I now have a full winter of EV driving under my belt, so I shared those experiences – both the benefits of fast heat and stellar handling and the downfall of decreased range, which isn’t as bad as many think.

These two were a delight. They were smitten with Bolty by the time they walked out the door. I see an EV in their future!
The electric technology under the hood called for some close examination.

I was peppered with questions about electric pickups, and it was fun to talk about now-confirmed plans from Ford and Rivian for all-electric models. That got the farmers interested!

But my favorite part of the day – beyond the FANTASTIC food – was chatting with Red Lake’s member services manager, Kelli, who told me she received a call that morning from a member who had just purchased an EV and was looking into getting a home charging system installed. It could be the first charging station on Red Lake Electric’s system. That’s huge!

The Red Lake Electric crew was not stingy on the serving sizes. Plates were heaping with pulled pork, potatoes, coleslaw and cookies.

I wrapped up the afternoon with a sugar cookie, a hot coffee, a warm driver’s seat and a slight tailwind for my drive back to Grand Forks. I was in my Kaylee Cusack happy place. Not a flake of snow fell that day, but a pesky thought continued to cross my mind:

Bring on the cold and snow. I have some more EV testing to do.

- Kaylee Cusack, Minnkota communications specialist

As you can see, I did not hold back on the creature comforts on this drive. I made a 105-mile trip with 33 kWh of energy. Not bad!

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