Caring for community

Training hundreds new farmers each year, KaZuoa Berry manages her budget down to the dollar. The program she leads, an emerging farmer conference and incubator training program at Big River Farm near Marine on St. Croix, teaches entrepreneurship to experienced farmers and farming to experienced entrepreneurs.

KaZuoa Berry

“Sustainable funding models for this work are hard to come by,“ says Berry. “When propane heating costs suddenly explode it has a huge impact on our ability to serve the community. We’re glad to be working with Connexus to identify strategies to take control of our heating costs.”

“We’re here to help all our members make informed decisions regarding their short- and long-term energy costs,” said Connexus Energy’s Jen Sweeney, who advises Anoka County and other large energy consumers. “Electric technologies are constantly getting better in performance as well as price. Fuel switching from propane to electricity is increasingly popular among our members. Another key strategy we recommend to control costs is energy efficiency.”

Anoka County is several years into the process of switching its buildings and infrastructure to use modern LED lights that will result in significant savings.

In talking about the importance of prudent financial management and energy use, Anoka County Administrator Rhonda Sivarajah notes that “County government is that invisible layer of government and we provide services and impact people’s lives from birth to death.”

Anoka County services include management of a park system that now draws more than 4 million visits annually, as well as the library system, and more than 400 miles of roadway. Reducing costs from energy usage is critical to successfully providing such a diversity of important services.

“We provide all of the law enforcement for several cities in the county, and also have programs like senior services, and medical and food assistance, to help people if they run into difficult times,” says Sivarajah.

Care for community is one of the seven principles guiding the work of all member-owned nonprofit cooperatives. Whether it is homeowners or farmers, nonprofits or businesses, or town, city, or county government, controlling costs while caring for community is part of Connexus’ mission.

This story appeared in Connexus Energy’s Winter 2022 newsletter.