A rural Upper Peninsula electrical provider is working to improve its service through a new work plan.
The Alger Delta Cooperative Electric Association provides service to about 10,000 customers in the central Upper Peninsula. The cooperative has put together a four year, $6.7 million work plan which includes numerous projects of all sizes aimed at general improvements to their system. The projects are being financed via loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture rural utilities program.
“We actually apply for a loan and we pay that back over time with interest,” CEO Tom Harrell said. “What happens is we engage in the construction of the project. We pay for those projects out of margins, and then we are able to draw the money down from the loan program to essentially repay our margins for the money that was spent on the project.”
A number of the plans the cooperative has in place, some of which are already underway, focus on replacing aging infrastructure to improve reliability and better serve the co-op’s members.
“We do pole inspections, and at some point, say you’ve got ten miles of line and you’ve got 150 to 200 poles in that ten miles, so you inspect all those poles and once you get to the place where a certain percentage of them need to be replaced, it’s more cost effective to just rebuild the entire line, especially if you’re going to replace the conductor as well,” Harrell said.
The expected economic payback for many of the projects in the works revolves around reduced line loss, improved reliability and lower labor costs over the life of the installed infrastructure.