Throughout the 45 years my wife and I owned property on the lake in Outing and Emily, we were customers of Crow Wing Power, the cooperative that provides electrical power to the area.
CWP looks and acts like a utility, but is not a utility. Its rates are not determined by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, nor is it regulated by anyone, it seems. Its finances are totally opaque, with even members of its board unable to gain access.
Recently, some members of the CWP board have had the courage to state that CWP is not fully focused on helping its "members" nor is it at all transparent in its business affairs. CWP seemingly exists to keep its top management and board members in power. An investigation by the Minnesota Attorney General may provide some illumination.
Fifteen years ago, CWP purchased Hunt Technologies, Pequot Lakes. Hunt was experiencing difficulties and CWP purchased the company. Hunt's business was manufacturing automated meter-readers, a close affiliation with CWP's power business. CWP straightened out Hunt's problems and sold the firm for a sizable profit. CWP management chose to go afield with those funds, rather than benefiting its members.
CWP decided to embark on a manganese mining project which has no connectivity with the power business. So they spent the money, handsomely rewarding upper management and board members, and created a lot of consternation in Emily, where the manganese is located.
CWP is unregulated and opaque. Top management and board are focused on maintaining power. Employees are interested in security; they vote the party line. Unless there is a membership revolution, nothing will change.
Someone may have the courage to initiate a class-action lawsuit to remove the entrenched and benefit the members. Sign me up.
Donald A. Dee
Fort Myers, Fla.