North Sargent teachers learn about lignite

Lignite isn’t exacly on the list of top 10 vocabulary words or in the first 10 chapters of standard science books. But it is a very vital source of power in North Dakota, not to mention vital to the economny of the Peace Garden State.

Do you know what lignite is? If you don’t, check here or ask some of the friendly teachers of North Sargent School in Gwinner, N.D. Husband and wife Ardell and Lavonne Ptacek were two of about 130 educators who participated in the Lignite Energy Council’s annual seminar for teachers. At the seminar, teachers learn about lignite and the energy industry from different perspectives like science, history, economics, agriculture, etc., so they can then teach those lessons to their students.

The Ptaceks agreed: the lignite impressed. Especially how clean it was, said Ardell who teaches ag education, and how farmers could reclaim the land. Lavonne, who teaches family and consumer science, was interested in career opportunities for high school graduates.

The seminar is especially great because it’s free to our hard-working educators and also offers them two credit hours at an institution of their choosing. Many times, educators have to pay for those hours, so this seminar is especially valuable.

Read more about Lavonne, Ardell and the lignite seminar in September’s issue of North Dakota Living!

Check out these opportunities for to learn about the energy industry!

Want your school to learn more about the energy industry? Dakota Valley can help!

Energy tours:
  School districts wishing to tour the Antelope Valley coal-based generating plant, the Coteau Freedom coal mine and the Great Plains coal gasification plant, located near Beulah, N.D. can receive assistance from Dakota Valley.
  The tours allow students a first-hand look at the generation of electricity from coal, a look at one of two gasification plants in the entire world, and a ride down into a coal mine. They visit a power plant and learn about the many job opportunities available in North Dakota’s energy industry. The tour provides insight into one of North Dakota’s most promising and brightest industries.

  This scholarship program recognizes and encourages the academic achievements of students in the region, serves as an investment in the economic future of rural areas.
  Annually, each of the 135 electric cooperatives that make up Basin Electric Power Cooperative (including Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative) receives $1,000 from Basin Electric to award a scholarship to a qualifying dependent of a Dakota Valley Electric member, who will be enrolled as a college freshman for the 2012-2013 school year.
  Applicants for the scholarship must be high school seniors enrolled or planning to enroll in a full-time course of study at an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational/technical school.
  Scholarship recipients will be chosen based on a combination of SAT/ACT scores and overall grade-point average, work experience, participation in school and community activities, a personal statement of career goals, a written recommendation by a third party and a written essay.

School lyceum: The Story Behind The Switch
  Every three years, Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative and Basin Electric team up to provide area schools and Hutterite Colonies with a lyceum entitled “The Story Behind the Switch.” This program is offered to students in grades 4 through 6.
  The lyceum emphasizes safety and respect for electricity. It also teaches students what electricity is, how it is generated and distributed, and the important role it plays in our lifestyles.
  During the program, students are allowed to participate in electrical demonstrations such as the Van de Graff generator, which literally makes participants’ hair stand on end. This demonstration is a big hit with students and demonstrates how electricity travels on the outside of conductors.

Legislative field trips:
  Recognizing that school budgets are often tight, and to help defray trip expenses, Dakota Valley Electric’s board of directors has approved a $100 donation to any high school in the cooperative’s service area that takes a group of students to the state Capitol to view North Dakota’s legislative process in action.

Deck the Halls with energy savings!

My two-year-old insists on hanging every ornament “up dere!!!” on our 5 foot-tall, pre-lit “Kiss-miss” tree. He loves the lights, adores the shimmer and even listens sometimes when we tell him Santa doesn’t bring presents to boys who color on the kitchen floor.

The holiday season has begun.

And with it, comes a wallop to our wallets.

That’s why I’m considering LED lights for my outdoor decorating this year. LED lights are pricey compared to standard commercial lights.

At first glance, the price difference is a little shocking: $10+ for a box of 100 mini LED lights compared to $2 or so for the standard bulb equivalent. But overtime, those savings add up, both in energy costs and the longevity of the product. While the standard bulb set will likely get tossed in two years, the LED sets can last a decade.

Most LED strings are rated for 20,000 hours of use, or 10 times the longevity of incandescent lights, according to Electric Cooperative Today.

Plus, consumers can connect more LED strands and the LEDs don’t break as easy, according to the Pasadena Star-News.

So weigh in what works for you. Do you intend to keep your lights forever – saving yourself some coin and reducing your global footprint? Or are you a new-light-every-year kind of person. Depending on how you light up your holidays, LEDs just may be for you.

And here’s a little LED Christmas light video, to get you in the holiday spirit!



Have a happy and safe one!

Be Ready for Santa with a Safe Holiday Season

            The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most stressful—particularly
when it comes to keeping your kids safe through parties, presents, travel, and
meals. Follow these tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International
(ESFI) to protect your little ones this holiday season. For more information,


Electronic gifts

            About 70 percent of child-related electrical accidents occur at home when adult
supervision is present, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission. So make sure those new toys don’t pose a danger.

Outlet Covers


  • Electric-powered
    toys and other devices can be extremely hazardous if improperly used or used
    without proper supervision.
  • An adult
    should supervise the use of any electrical product.  Consider both the maturity of the child and
    the nature of the toy when deciding how much supervision is required.
  • Do not buy
    an electrical toy, or any toy, for a child too young to use it safely. Always
    check the age recommendation on the package, and remember that this is a
    minimum age recommendation. You should still take into account your child’s
  • Never give
    any child under 10 years old a toy that must be plugged into an electrical
    outlet. Instead, choose toys that are battery-operated.
  • Make sure
    all electrical toys bear a fire safety label from an independent testing
    laboratory, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.).
  • Inspect all
    electrical toys periodically.  Repair,
    replace, or discard deteriorating toys.
  • Ban play
    with electrical toys near water, and make sure they understand that water and
    electricity don’t mix.
  • All
    electrical toys should be put away immediately after use in a dry storage area
    out of the reach of younger children.


Decorating safely

Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Day lead the year for candle fires, according to
ESFI. Mind your festive decorations for safety hazards:

  • Read
    manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels for any decoration that will be
    used around young children, like electronic trains or animatronic dolls.
  • Keep
    candles, matches, and lighters out of reach, and never leave children
    unsupervised when candles are lit.
  • Instead of
    traditional candles, try using battery-operated candles.
  • Cover any
    unused outlets on extension cords with plastic caps or electrical tape to
    prevent children from coming in contact with a live circuit.
  • Place
    electrical cords out of the reach of small children.
  • Never allow
    children to play with lights, electrical decorations, or cords.



2009, ranges and ovens were involved in an estimated 17,300 thermal burn
injuries seen in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Of these, 36 percent of the
victims were younger than 5. Keep little kitchen helpers in check:

Cooking safety


  • Never leave
    the kitchen when something’s cooking—a fire or accident can happen in an
  • Keep
    children at least three feet away from all cooking appliances.
  • Never hold
    a child while cooking or when removing hot food from the microwave, oven, or
  • Turn pot
    handles in, away from reaching hands.
  • Use the
    back burners on the cooktop whenever possible.
  • Hot tap
    water scalds can be prevented by lowering the setting on water heater
    thermostats to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below and by installing anti-scald
    devices in water faucets.
  • Once your
    holiday meal is ready, check that the stove and oven are turned off and that
    other kitchen appliances are unplugged and out of reach.


Source: Electrical Safety
Foundation International

‘Tis The Season To Save Energy And Money

Source: Touchstone Energy

In addition to some minor tweaks and improvements, The Save Energy, Save Money app features a new refrigerator calculator. It shows the cost (based on size, type and age) to operate a refrigerator or freezer and how much can be saved by switching to an ENERGY STAR© model.
The app also includes a handy “Tip of the Day”, and the popular lighting and appliance energy use calculators. There is even a feature that lets you send notices and alerts to your members.
Stay tuned as water heating and space heater calculators will be added in the coming months. The free app is available for Apple iPhones and iPads at the iTunes store and for Android smartphones at; search for: Together We Save. (iPhone, Droid)
Questions? Contact Alan Shedd, Touchstone Energy’s energy efficiency wizard at

Update: Soups like Chicken Noodle, Chili are some of most needed food-pantry items

Perhaps you read yesterday that Dakota Valley Electric is organizing a food drive for the LaMoure and Sargent County food pantries. We’ve visited with coordinators at each pantry and while they both said all donations are wonderful, here are some of the items in most demand:

LaMoure County:

 * soups that make a meal (i.e. Clam Chowder, Vegetable, Chicken and Wild Rice) as opposed to cream-based soups (i.e. cream of mushroom)

 * UNSWEETENED cereal for the elderly population that requires assistance

 * toothpaste/toothbrushes

 * bar soap

Sargent County:

 * toilet paper 

 * peanut butter

 * dry pasta

 * cans of soup

Bring these or any other nonperishable items into our Edgeley or Milnor offices as well as the Edgeley Food Center and Milnor Jack & Jill by Nov. 1 and we will get them to those in need! For more information, call us at 1-800-342-4671.

SUITE news! We’ve got tickets to giveaway!

Our co-ops have a special opportunity for students and adults alike! A chance to win EVENT SUITE tickets to a Minnesota Twins game (and other cool stuff!).

Win Event Suite tickets to see the Minnesota Twins, courtesy of Northern Plains Electric Cooperative and

Win Event Suite tickets to see the Minnesota Twins, courtesy of Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative and

While most contests are essay-based, we believe talent extends beyond the limits of Microsoft Word. In this contest, students have a blank canvas. Use 45 seconds of video or an 8×11 piece of paper to explain “How to Stay Safe around Electricity” That answer may include essays, of course, but also selfies, comic-book characters, paint, pastels, clay-mation, code, Quark or even a hand-written jingle. This contest isn’t about grades and attendance records. It’s about creativity and innovation.

Safety doesn't happen by accident. Let's make sure everyone gets home safe this year.

Safety doesn’t happen by accident. Let’s make sure everyone gets home safe this year.

We’re doing this contest to get the word out about electrical safety, specifically on the farm. Electrical safety is a big issue for us — we see an exponential increase in accidents almost every year. The year we didn’t was 2014 – the year we started sharing safety messages. So with similar messages as well as a safety contest like this, we hope to reduce accidents and save lives.

Help us get the word out?

All ages can enter, so long as they or their grandparents receive electric service from us or our sister co-op, Northern Plains. Winner must live within the Dakota Valley and Northern Plains service areas.

Full rules: here.

Questions? Call 427-6057 anytime. Deadline: Monday, Aug. 31.

Inflatable games, bucket truck rides & hot air balloon

Inflatable games, bucket truck rides, vendor booths and soaring in the Touchstone Energy Hot Air Balloon – it’s all free and all for Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative members at the co-op’s annual meeting.

10599248_10153097174057334_7273316198962645891_n  Members, not shareholders, own Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative. So its annual meeting is a time to celebrate. Set for Thursday, June 11 at the Milnor Area Community Center, the event begins at 4 p.m.

Visit the vendor booths, hop on the inflatable games and ride in a bucket truck – just the way linemen do! If weather permits, the co-op is even offering rides in Touchstone Energy Cooperative’s Hot Air Balloon.

10636258_10153097174487334_753723448182814738_nThe co-op is serving a complimentary supper beginning at 5 p.m. at Milnor Public School, adjacent to the MACC. The meeting and election begin at 6:30. Candidates for this year are incumbents John Hauschild, Wahpeton; Dick Johnson, Brampton; and Blaine Lundgren, Kulm. Following the meeting, the co-op is giving away more than $800 worth of door prizes as well as a chance to win $1,000. Must be present to win.

For more information, call 1-800-342-4671 or visit

Seven accidents in two days

This terrifies me.

As spring begins, we at your co-op ask farmers and farm workers to plant the seeds of safety.IMG_0014

In two days, seven accidents caused outages in the combined Dakota Valley and Northern Plains Electric Cooperatives’ service areas. Five of them were farm-machinery related and two were fire related.

Asking a farmer to slow down this time of year isn’t practical. We know how busy everyone is. But we do want to remind people what to do if they do hit a pole, transformer or other piece of our equipment.

Unless there’s a risk of fire or imminent danger, stay in the cab and call for help. Warn others who may be nearby to stay away and wait until the electric utility arrives to cut off the power.

If the power line is energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path and electrocution is the result. Even if a power line haFireAroundPoleMikeKoenigs landed on the ground, the area nearby may be energized. Tangling with 7,200 volts of electricity can have serious and fatal consequences.

Between 2009 and 2013, we noticed an increase in accidents between the public and power lines. Last year alone, more than 60 accidents were reported between the two co-ops. The year prior, 134 accidents were reported.