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The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) will hold its 76th annual meeting Jan. 15 to 16 at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck. The two-day event will feature presentations on the future of electric cooperatives, sustainable resource development and the opioid crisis. The meeting theme is, “Power. Forward. Together.”

“The success of North Dakota’s electric cooperatives is built on relationships, cooperation and a dedication to providing a better future for co-op members,” says NDAREC General Manager and Executive Vice President Josh Kramer. “Our annual meeting is a great opportunity to enhance relationships among cooperative leaders and stakeholders, and learn about new and advancing technologies to help cooperatives plan for the future. This year, we are hosting powerful presentations dedicated to dealing with the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our industry and the communities we serve.” 

The Relevance of Electric Cooperatives in the Next 50 Years. In his keynote presentation, “The Relevance of Electric Cooperatives in the Next 50 Years,” Economist and Futurist Dr. Lowell Catlett will explain how electric cooperatives will play a pivotal role in a future of a world of new technologies, including autonomous transportation and droids. Highly respected for his knowledge of technologies and their implications on how we live and work, Dr. Catlett has been a consultant for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior of Defense and Labor, as well as many Fortune 500 companies. 

Sustainable Resource Development for a Prosperous Future. John Harju, vice president for strategic partnerships at the Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota, will speak about EERC’s carbon management efforts. These efforts will provide a critical bridge between the economic pillars of North Dakota, which are energy, agriculture and technology. 

Understanding the Opioid Crisis: Bringing Hope and Help to Communities. NDAREC will also host a panel to address the alarming increase in opioid use and addiction, both in rural and urban areas. North Dakota’s electric cooperatives’ efforts to improve the quality of life in the communities they serve is driven by the cooperative principle of concern for community guides cooperatives to serve their communities. “Understanding the Opioid Crisis: Bringing Hope and Help to Communities,” brings together experts on addiction, crime and rural development to create awareness of the crisis and discuss what cooperatives can do to help. 

The 2019 NDAREC Annual Meeting also includes a business session and an awards ceremony that recognizes cooperative leadership and service. During the business session, NDAREC Board President Bob Grant will join Kramer in providing an annual report to North Dakota’s electric cooperatives.

NDAREC is the statewide trade association for 16 electric distribution cooperatives and five generation and transmission cooperatives operating in North Dakota. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to more than 250,000 North Dakotans along more than 200,000 meters. NDAREC services include legislative advocacy, line worker safety training and professional development services, cooperative business development, and communication services including publication of the North Dakota Living magazine.