News & Events

Are you or someone you know interested in a job as a HomeWorks Tri-County Electric lineman? We currently have an opening in our Blanchard office for a journeyman lineman. This position helps achieve the Cooperative mission of enhancing the quality of life of our members by 1. Providing highly reliable and safe electric service and 2. Constructing, maintaining and repairing overhead and underground electric distribution lines. The qualified candidate must have a high school diploma or equivalent, a journeyman lineman certification, a valid Michigan driver's license and a Department of Transportation Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with group A designation and air brake endorsement. This position reports to our electric operations manager. At HomeWorks, we constantly seek to bring energy, comfort, and communications solutions to our member-owners and customers, to enhance their quality of life. We develop and reward employees who help meet our goals, and we embody the cooperative principles as we work with our partners to fulfill our mission.   To learn more about this job opening, visit our employment page. To apply, please send resume and cover letters by Friday, 1/19/2018 to: Angel McCliggott, Human Resource Specialist-
Pohl, Oplinger Seek Re-Election To Co-op Board Luke Pohl of Westphalia and Ed Oplinger of Weidman have announced they will seek re-election to HomeWorks Tri-County Electric's board of directors this year. Pohl was elected to his first full term in May 2015. District 3 includes members in Clinton County, except for Bingham, Duplain and Greenbush townships. Oplinger has served District 6, comprised of members in Clare and Isabella counties, since he was first elected in 2009.  The nominating committee in each district consists of the district's officers (listed on this page), elected by members at the district meeting in May. Each committee is required by the co-op's bylaws to nominate at least one candidate on or before Feb. 5. Candidates may also be nominated with a petition signed by at least 25 members from within the district. Petitions must be turned in by Feb. 20. Names of nominees will be posted at the cooperative's offices by Feb. 28. Interested in Seeking a Board Seat? If you're interested in running for a HomeWorks board seat yourself, the cooperative's bylaw states you must be an individual member of the cooperative in good standing, at least 21 years old, residing in the district which you are to represent, and a U.S. citizen. To become or remain a director, the bylaws continue, the candidate must have the capacity to enter into legally binding contracts; comply with standards of conduct as laid out in the bylaws; and meet all reasonable conflict of interest qualifications found in Article VII, Section 3. Also, within the 10 years immediately prior to becoming a director, a candidate shall not have been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony or misdemeanor crime involving issues of moral character. For a copy of the bylaws, please visit our website at If you meet these qualifications and would like to be nominated, contact your district nominating committee, listed on this page, or call HomeWorks Tri-County Electric at 517-647-1218 for a nominating petition. Information about all candidates and district meeting dates will be published in the April issue of Country Lines, and members in Districts 3 and 6 will receive ballots and voting information in their mail. Who Makes Up District Nominating Committees? Nominating committees are comprised of the district officers, elected by members at the previous year's district meeting. District 3: Clinton County, except Bingham, Duplain and Greenbush townships Mary Jo Straub, Chair 3800 Essex Center Road Saint Johns, MI 48879 989-640-1504 email: Floyd Messer (Fowler), Vice Chair Helen Goodknecht (Fowler), Secretary District 6: Clare and Isabella counties Richard Donley, Chair 1037 Lincoln Drive Lake Isabella, MI 48893 989-330-0284 Email: Bob Thompson (Weidman), Vice Chair Rose Nedry (Edmore), Secretary New Election Timeline Nominating Committee submits candidate names to Co-op  Feb. 5 Candidate credentials reviewed, names posted at Co-op       Feb. 15 Nominations by petition (25 signatures) due at Co-op           Feb. 20 Final candidate list posted at Co-op                                       Feb. 28 Ballots mailed to members in election districts                      April 15 Members may vote instead at district meeting                       May  
The Tri-County Electric People Fund approved seven grants at their December 20 meeting, including: $2,100 to Gratiot County Commission on Aging, to provide mobile ramps for senior homes; $1,500 to Ionia County YMCA, to purchase water safety equipment for the 3rd grade, senior, and special needs water safety programs; $1,000 to Sunny Crest Youth Ranch in Sunfield as a matching grant toward a wood shop dust collection system; $2,500 to an Isabella County family, for housing expenses; $600 to an Isabella County family, to help with housing expenses; $2,500 to a Montcalm County family, to help put in a new well; and $1,787 to another Isabella County family, to assist with furnace repairs. How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the co-op's service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community.  Write to 7973 E. Grand River Avenue, Portland, MI. 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund tab at Note: Applications must be received by Jan. 15 for the January board meeting, and by Feb. 26 for the March board meeting.
Right-of-way clearing is the SINGLE most important thing we can do to keep your electricity reliable. We've invested millions of dollars into keeping trees, branches, and brush away from power lines over the past 15 years, and we're seeing the difference. We've still got a long way to go. Trees keep growing across the 2,916 miles of overhead lines that we maintain. The eight-year clearing cycle we've worked up to is much better than we used to have but needs to be better. We contract with large companies like Asplundh or Wright Tree to do this work for us. It's hard, dangerous work, and requires a lot of training on trees and equipment to be done right. Nobody wants to do that kind of work for low pay, and with the economy improving, these crews have plenty of employment choices that are less dangerous and pay more. The bottom line is that the cost of accomplishing the tree-clearing for 2018 has nearly doubled. It's not going to cost less the year after, or the year after that. This is the new reality, and we hope that most of the money is going to the hard-working folks who do this job so well. With this big increase in a major budget item, among other reasons, we needed a small rate increase to keep your Cooperative financially stable. Your board of directors approved a 4.9 percent rate increase at the November board meeting. The monthly charge will go up by $7 a month for most of our residential and general service member-customers. This will cover the fixed costs for operating and maintaining the electric system, including buildings and trucks; repaying interest and debt on the capital costs of building and updating power lines with wire, poles, transformers, and meters; plus storm repairs and other maintenance. Meanwhile, the actual cost of your energy - the kilowatt-hour charge and the Power Supply Cost Recovery factor, will go down a little bit, as power supply costs are forecast to be stable for 2018. Read more about the board’s decision on page 13 this month, and watch for more information in the months to come.
Are you still looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for loved one on your list? What about giving them the gift of energy? HomeWorks offers gift certificates, which can be used toward paying a Tri-County Electric or Tri-County Propane bill, at our Blanchard and Portland offices. Purchase one for a friend or family member in our service area to give them a gift that's guaranteed to be used and appreciated. Or, in the true Christmas spirit, you can purchase one to donate to our People Fund to help pay the bills and ease the load for a local family in need this season.  To buy a HomeWorks gift certificate, simply stop by our Blanchard or Portland office or call us at 800-562-8232. Happy shopping, and Merry Christmas from the HomeWorks family!
It's not that HomeWorks Administrative Assistant Denise Weeks has a retirement countdown going or anything, but in a recent discussion, she just happened to be able to rattle off the exact amount of time, down to the hour, between her and endless days of Florida sunshine. "I think it's down to 67 days and one hour," she said with a laugh. But who's counting, right? Her Dec. 1 retirement date looms even closer now, and despite her excitement for the freedom it will bring, she knows leaving the organization she has been with for more than 27 years will be bittersweet. "Through the years, the people here have become like family to me, so it's going to be tough," said Weeks. "I'll miss the people most of all." Those warm feelings extend, she says, to HomeWorks staff, the board of directors and the cooperative's members. In her position, the friendly and engaging Weeks has interacted on a personal level with all three groups. "Through the years, my position has grown and evolved, and there came to be two different aspects of it: working with the directors and working with the employees on the human resources side of the job," she said. "I enjoyed the personal relationships I was able to develop with the directors and the employees, and with our members. I've just enjoyed the human aspect more than anything." Weeks won't give up that human aspect when she retires; she'll just experience it in new ways. She and her husband, Pete, who is also recently retired, plan to travel and spend more time with their children and other extended family and friends. "We plan to spend six months of the year at Recreation Plantation RV Park in Florida, near the Villages, and five months in Ionia at Lakeside Resort," she said. "The other month, hopefully, we'll travel, which I'm really excited about. I have five sisters, and we love to take trips together." She's most excited, she says, about the chance retirement will afford to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it. "Where we'll be near the Villages, there are dances every night," she said. "There is lots of recreation, and a lot of opportunities to do anything you want to do." Don't think her retirement means you'll never see Weeks around HomeWorks functions again, though. "I'll still attend my district meeting and retiree lunches and other events, but instead of an event planner, I'll be a guest," she said. "I'm looking forward to joining that club." Still, it won't be the same at HomeWorks without the lovable Weeks. "Denise has been the Cooperative face to many of the members for the past twenty seven years," said HomeWorks General Manager Mark Kappler. "I know the members who have gotten to know her over the years will miss her sweet personality. Personally, I will miss Denise's positive outlook to work and life that she brought to the office every single day." November-December, 2017 Michigan Country Lines
Meeting October 4 and November 15, the Tri-County Electric People Fund made 15 grants totaling $18,254.57 $2,000 to Community Christian Action Group, Eaton Rapids, for food pantry items; $1,000 to Lakeview Ministerial Association, Lakeview, to restock their food pantry; $1,000 to Tri-County Office on Aging, Lansing, to support their Meals on Wheels program; $2,500 to Clinton-Gratiot Habitat for Humanity, Saint Johns, for the Critical Home Repair program; $325.29 to a Clinton County family for housing expenses; $300 to an Ingham County family to help with housing expenses; $2,486.69 to an Ionia County family to pay medical bills; $487.13 to a Mecosta County family to assist with medical bills and septic repairs; $1765 to another Mecosta County family to build an accessibility ramp; and $679.54 to a Montcalm County family for medical and housing expenses. $1,000 to Red-Line Paraclete Ministries, Saint Johns, to purchase items for their food pantry; $1,500 to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Ionia, for their children's book program; $500 to Clinton County Senior Center to fund their nutritional bingo program; $1,200 to an Ionia County family, to assist with housing expenses; and $1,510.92 to an Ionia County family for housing expenses. How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the co-op's service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community.  Write to 7973 E. Grand River Avenue, Portland, MI. 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund tab at Note: Applications must be received by Jan. 15 for the January board meeting, and by Feb. 26 for the March board meeting.  
Michigan’s leader in new renewable energy is now leading Michigan’s transition to a low-carbon future. HomeWorks Tri-County’s power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative (Wolverine), announced this week it will achieve a 56% carbon-free fuel mix by January 1,  2018. The move reduces the cooperative’s carbon-based sources of generation by 36 percent and reinforces HomeWorks Tri-County’s and Wolverine’s leadership in modern renewables and environmental stewardship. “We share Wolverine’s commitment to environmental responsibility, reliable power, and competitive costs. Our members have told us all three elements are important to them as energy consumers,” says general manager Mark Kappler. To reach the substantial carbon-free level, Wolverine signed a new long-term contract for zero-emission energy. When added to current renewable energy assets, the agreement will increase the amount of carbon-free energy in HomeWorks Tri-County’s fuel mix from 31% to 56%. In addition to significantly reducing emissions from carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the new agreement also helps ensure power costs remain competitive for years to come. “Environmental stewardship and cost-competitive energy are important to our members, and we’re proud to create an opportunity to address both next year,” says Eric Baker, president and chief executive officer of Wolverine Power Cooperative. “We will deliver more renewables and less carbon while maintaining cost and reliability for our members.” In the past year, Wolverine and its members added more than 150 MW of renewable energy generation by agreeing to a long-term contract for the Deerfield wind project, and building SpartanSolar—Northern Michigan’s largest solar array. Wolverine and its members lead Michigan utilities with the highest percentage of new renewables and exceed both present and anticipated state portfolio requirements. ###
Electric cooperatives like HomeWorks Tri-County form a network across America. There are nearly 900 of us, located in 47 states. Cooperative-owned electric lines cover 75 percent of the nation’s land mass. But each co-op is, like HomeWorks, a unique, independent business. We work with many other organizations, including other co-ops, but our member-owners control the co-op by electing a board of directors from among their neighbors. Our board then approves policies that guide the way management and employees do business. The fourth cooperative principle is autonomy and independence. Autonomy is another way to say self-sufficient. To be honest, like most Americans, we aren’t completely self-sufficient. We don’t grow our own trees and process them into power poles; we don’t take metal and string it into wires to conduct electricity. We don’t build our own trucks and trailers, nor our computers and other tools. Instead, we are interdependent: part of many other organizations that work together with the end goal of serving our members. We partner with Wolverine Power Cooperative to purchase and transmit the electricity that serves your family. We are member-owners of the Portland Federal Credit Union, where we do most of our local banking. We are member-owners of, and partners with, many other cooperatives, that help us obtain products and services, such as financing, computer services, insurance, materials, legislative and regulatory support, and more. Of course, we work with many non-cooperative organizations and governmental agencies as well. Any time HomeWorks enters into agreements with other organizations, we do it with terms that ensure democratic control by you, our members, and maintain our independence. This will allow us to continue to be the self-help organization envisioned by the founders of the modern cooperative movement. As always, we welcome your participation and suggestions about how we can improve our locally owned and controlled services.
Testifying before the state legislature’s House Energy Policy Committee recently was a great opportunity to shine a light on our cooperative form of business. Even though Michigan’s electric co-ops serve nearly 300,000 homes and businesses, we are small and relatively unknown compared to Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison! Craig Borr, our statewide association’s executive vice-president, gave the legislators an overview of co-ops and explained that we were formed to serve those who live in rural areas. Then I had the chance to tell them how we work together to provide reliable electric power to our member-owners. With our line maintenance programs, aggressive right-of-way clearing, and well-trained linemen, we work every day to make sure the lights stay on for rural families. Legislators were surprised to learn that our mutual aid agreements also cover the small municipal utilities around the state, such as the cities of Portland and Eaton Rapids. We helped the City of Portland restore service after the tornado in 2015, for instance, and they recently sent a crew to help ours after this past March's wind storm. I also pointed out that co-ops took the lead in using new technology like automated metering systems. These meters are simply tools that help us provide energy use information to our members, as well being useful during outage restoration. All of these subjects are ones we have brought before you, our member-owners, through this magazine, our Facebook page, website and at district and annual member meetings. We also provide scholarships to area students, Classroom Technology Grants to schools in our service area, and the National Rural Electric Youth Tour, helping to support our future leaders. Cooperative Principle 5 is Education, Training & Information. We believe an informed membership is a valuable asset to a cooperative, which is why we invest in these various means of communication. Mark Kappler Michigan Country Lines magazine June 2017  


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