The Littlest User

It sounds similar to “The Biggest Loser” on NBC…but there’s a lot less energy involved.

The Littlest User Contest is a clever competition between Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH) and Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) in Minnesota. Each cooperative has six family teams (of course they’re member-consumers) competing to use the least amount of electricity this summer.  WH’s six family teams are collectively referred to as the “Watt Watchers,” which are competing against the LREC “MiniMizers.”

Each family team can track their energy-saving progress by visiting MyMeter through their cooperatives’ websites. MyMeter is a web portal offered by the co-ops, which helps consumers track their daily energy use.

“The program (MyMeter) empowers members to save money on their electric bills… and it’s ultimately helping members better understand their energy use,” said Todd Jude, energy use consultant for WH.

Steve Walstad’s family (Energy Wise Guys) is one of the WH teams competing in this year’s contest. The Walstad family managed to cut $60 off last month’s electric bill as a result of the contest, and to help keep their energy use low, they have not turned on the air conditioner yet this summer.

“We’re competitive. We want to win,” Walstad says.

You can read comments online at about how the contest is shaping up. One of the Watt Watcher’s team members posted, “I’m more and more amazed at how small and simple changes really DO make a difference!”

“Some of the families are using the contest to teach their kids how to save energy and money, as well as the importance of conservation,” said Lindsay Scherer, communications specialist for WH. “It’s been fun to watch the Watt Watcher’s progress and to see how excited each family is about saving energy.”

The Littlest User will be declared after July 31st and will receive a one-month supply of free electricity.


The man who travels more than me

Michael Riedman breathes fire….just kidding. But he does have a heck of work ethic and enjoys working with the member cooperatives of Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

Michael is on the road a majority of the time…traveling to different member service territories to attend annual meetings, farm shows, or places where members need an efficiency and technology display. You may see him riding around on an electrically-powered Segway. That always draws a big crowd.

Recently, Michael and I had the privilege to travel to Jordan, Minnesota together and this is the short video I captured while on the road with him.

Bear Paw country

I love getting the opportunity to speak in one-room schools!!

That happened when I visited the Hill County Electric service territory around Havre, Montana in May. (And when you are there, don’t forget to check out Fort Benton. It’s an hour down Highway 87 and there you can see the beautiful Grand Union Hotel.)

I had the privilege to work with some amazing people and they helped make my trip to the Bear Paw Mountains even better. Hill County Electric’s Ted Kosowski, Angie Allestad, Kevann Elletson and many others helped bring The Story Behind the Switch to elementary and middle school students at Bear Paw School, Cottonwood North School, and Cottonwood West School.

Here is Ted showing students what a lineman would do in an effort to repair a powerline. The picture below shows how shockingly excited students are at Cottonwood West School about the Van de Graaf generator.

Ted Kosowski demonstrates lineman responsibilities

Students at Cottonwood West school are shockingly excited!


I am very grateful for the amazing students that listen to my presentations…and I will never forget their kindness.

Today I received that gratitude back in full and then some. Several thank-you letters came in the mail from Rawhide Elementary School in Gillette, Wyoming. Curt Pearson, Shauna Laber, and I, Tracy Fugere, from Basin Electric Power Cooperative headquarters in Bismarck and Dry Fork Station Operations Superintendent Joel Dingman and Construction Manager Doug Ramsey visited Rawhide School earlier this month during the school’s Safety Day. We had a great time talking about electrical safety and work safety to these students.

I appreciate the time and effort made by these students to say “THANK YOU!”

Safety Day at Rawhide Elementary School

I got to fly to Gillette, Wyoming yesterday and it was the highlight of my week!

Here’s a picture of Devil’s Tower from the plane!

A cool view of Devil's Tower from an airplane!!

The reason for my trip to Gillette? Safety Day at Rawhide Elementary School. It was a great trip! Students in kindergarten through sixth grade had the chance to create a poster with a safety message. Dry Fork Station employees voted on the best posters. And this was one of the winners!
A great safety poster!

Close to 300 students heard my presentation of The Story Behind the Switch and also learned about safety from Dry Fork Station Operations Superintendent Joel Dingman and Construction Manager Doug Ramsey. It was a great day!

A big crowd at Rawhide Elementary for a big safety day!

Check out the video from the event!

Bismarck schools experience the power

Sunrise Elementary students excited to learn more about electricity!

Despite recent storms in North Dakota during the last few weeks, the show must go on.

Luckily, I’ve been in Bismarck (home) and haven’t had to drive too far away to do Story Behind the Switch presentations.

I have had the opportunity to speak to some great schools in the Bismarck area and work with some fantastic people. Bismarck’s newest elementary school, Sunrise Elementary, is located in the northeast corner of the city. It’s full of energetic students and hard-working teachers. I brought my presentation to them with the help of Capital Electric’s Wes Engbrecht.

Using a hand generator to explain more about how electricity is made

Look at that large CFL!! How much electricity do you think it uses?

A Minnesota experience

MN students play on snow banks instead of playground equipment

Many of us are running out of places to put the snow.  Why not enjoy it and play on it during recess? That’s what students in Delano, Minnesota did…and it looked fun to me!

Wright-Hennepin Electric was my host during the last week of January. I had the privilege to present in Cokato, Buffalo, and Delano, Minnesota. Winter travel has been the biggest challenge this year but the students in Minnesota and people like Mike Hofmann at Wright-Hennepin have made my journey a pleasant experience.

Students at Buffalo Middle School

The van de graaf generator (static ball) gives you a great hairstyle!

More big hair!

Students in Delano, MN

Here’s an important electricity tip: If you are out for a walk and see down power lines, DO NOT WALK AROUND THEM! Head the other direction and tell the authorities. Do not go near them. Stay away and be safe!