To the editor:

Connexus Energy is the source of electrical power for many of us living in this newspaper’s area of circulation, and its annual election is coming up next month.

Rarely has an incumbent Board member ever been defeated in a Connexus election. But in 2020, I’d like to suggest voting in three new Board members, who are interested customers like you and I, to bring fresh perspectives to Connexus Energy in the 2020s: Tami Wendt, Marsha Van Denburgh, and Sam Villella.

Ballots will be mailed out in late-March, with the annual meeting on April 16th. You can mail in your ballot, vote online, or vote in person at the annual meeting. Last year, fewer than 7% of us member-owners of the Cooperative voted. I’m asking you to participate this year, and consider voting for who you think will provide the best leadership for the Cooperative in the 2020s.

We keep getting positive propaganda from Connexus – the coming of solar, a “green headquarters,” no rate increases, high customer satisfaction. But what if those are only partial truths?

Connexus is still tied to a coal contract with Great River Energy through 2045. Solar has made progress, but Connexus will need affordable land, connected to the grid, and available through community zoning and permit processes.

While Connexus has committed to making its headquarters “green,” how much are they leading the fight for “green” communities?

While Connexus hasn’t raised our rates, they aren’t publicly telling member-owners that, per an EnerVision market study (2020 Board report), our wholesale power rates are nearly twice as high as other Midwest providers such as Xcel, Wisconsin Power & Light or Mid-American Energy.

The next Board needs to decide what the cost of breaking a Great River Energy contract might be versus what is saved by lowering costs by partially-using a separate provider.

And, that number one ranking in customer satisfaction? While Connexus praised one ranking that confirmed this, last year JD Power found that Connexus Energy is middle-of-the-road among electric cooperatives, scoring just below the average rating.

Make 2020 the year to change the Connexus Board!

Wes Volkenant


(2) comments


The classic coop letter which encourages people to vote but the real intent is to push a green agenda or in some cases the Green New Deal. Don't be fooled members of Connexus. Should you vote? Yes! However, understand the motivations of candidates who believe they will simply walk into the coop and start making new decisions about power supply. It simply doesn't work that way and won't happen quickly. The utility industry is moving towards renewables but it's not going to happen overnight. It's unfortunate that some people are using their own personal agenda around renewables to suggest the current board is not doing their job. Don't be fooled, this is simply another attempt to push a policy agenda instead of understanding what coop governance means.

Kathy Tingelstad

March 27, 2020 Update: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there will no longer be voting AT the April 16 Connexus Annual Meeting. In addition, that meeting will be limited to just the current Connexus Board Members and the Board Challenger Candidates. The only agenda item will be the announcement of the Board election results. (Voting will still be available via mail-in ballot or via on-line ballot.) See the Connexus website for more details...

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