It’s true what they say: If you’ve visited one co-op, you’ve visited one co-op. And Great River Energy is no exception with 28 member-owner cooperatives serving 60 percent of Minnesota – a varying landscape of rural farmland to industrial parks to suburban neighborhoods.

Each co-op has a unique story, from its history to its membership to goals and challenges, but all are guided by the same set of cooperative principles and exist to serve their members.

East Central Energy (ECE), for example, serves more than 60,000 member-consumers in a 14-county area including Aitkin, Benton, Chisago and Isanti counties in Minnesota, as well as a few in Wisconsin. The co-op serves a number of prosperous and noteworthy businesses in its 4,300-square-mile service territory: The Renewal by Andersen division of Andersen Corporation, which produces windows at the company’s North Branch, Minn., facility; Beaver Island Brewing in St. Cloud, Minn., which counts on ECE for the reliable electricity it needs to produce draft and packaged beer for the region; and even a wholesale angle worm farm near Sandstone, Minn., where a constant 70-degree temperature and 24/7 lighting are necessary to keep the worms in their beds.

And if you’ve ever popped microwavable popcorn at home, the pouch was likely manufactured by equipment designed and produced by Northland Automation & Engineering near Mora, Minn. – another ECE member.

East Central Energy