The Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce recently named Minnesota Power as the “Large Business of the Year.”
“It’s a surprise, yet at the same time, it isn’t, but it is definitely an honor,” said Dan Gunderson, director of distribution engineering and operations at Minnesota Power.
Supervisor of the line crew Dean Erdman said he didn’t think Minnesota Power would be considered.
“It seems like it is usually surrounded around businesses that sell items, not just provide a service,” Erdman said.
Minnesota Power, founded in 1923, provides electric power to Little Falls and across Northeast Minnesota — covering a 26,000 square mile service territory and serving 145,000 customers.
Through its EnergyForward plan, Minnesota Power strives to do its parts in providing reliable and clean energy. At the same time, the company also strives to help transform the way energy is produced, delivered and consumed in the United States.
In addition, Minnesota Power is strengthening the grid that delivers energy to homes, businesses and other industry. It also generates more power from renewable sources, such as wind, water and solar, while helping customer find ways to understand, manage and reduce their energy use.
Working hard to provide the service sometimes entails working day and night to get the electricity back on after a big storm.
“People may not know we’re out there working on it, but we are,” Erdman said.
Erdman knows very well what it is like to work on the line crew. He did it for 30 years and his son, Kyler, 19, is looking to follow in his footsteps.
But what makes Minnesota Power stand out is its tireless dedication to serve the communities it provides service to.
“That’s why it wasn’t surprising at the same time as it was,” Gunderson said. “We are very engaged in the community and many of our employees are active in community activities.”
Several of its employees volunteer and serve on various boards besides the Chamber throughout the community, such as Morrison County United Way, Morrison County Food Shelf, Employment Enterprises, Inc. and the Lions Club.
In 2016 alone, Minnesota Power granted over $30,000 to various non-profit organizations, agencies, activities and events in the Little Falls area.
“I enjoy and am proud to work at a company that encourages community engagement. We all do,” said distribution engineer Kelly Desormey.
Budget analyst Emily McGinn joined the Minnesota Power team last summer and was inspired to get involved in the community, as well.
“For being here just the short amount of time that I have, I realized how involved everyone was, so I got involved. If it’s not a community event, it can be a storm restoration,” McGinn said.
In 2016, Minnesota Power partnered with the Minnesota National Guard in a major solar power plant at Camp Ripley. The 10-megawatt array, which covers nearly 80 acres, is the largest solar energy installation on military property in the state and the largest at any National Guard base in the United States.
The $23 million project was completed in November 2016 and now generates electricity for Camp Ripley and to customers on its electric grid.
Minnesota Power was nominated for always being extremely generous in the whole community. Just in the Chamber alone, a large number of employees have devoted hundreds, if not thousands of hours by serving on the Board, committee service and volunteering at events.
The company continues to support the Chamber through corporate sponsorships, team registration fees and sponsoring network events..
Before Christmas 2016, Minnesota Power decided to display the Lindbergh Lions Holiday Light Display. Without that offer, the display would not have been put up, since the city’s ordinance change to not allow displays on city-owned property or parks.
Minnesota Power will be honored at the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting Thursday, at the Falls Ballroom in Little Falls.