Reimer works to keep lights on for local farmersFree Access

Jackson-based Federated Rural Electric is one of many rural electric cooperatives working to keep the lights on for farmers and rural residents of southwest Minnesota.
Scott Reimer, Federated’s general manager, knows the industry well and understands how essential it is for farmers.
Born in Huron, S.D., Reimer started in the industry 43 years ago, doing an electrical apprenticeship and working with numerous contractors and companies, before deciding to return to the co-op scene.
“I was interested in getting back to the co-op world,” Reimer said. “I started here in 2015.”
Reimer compares his work with co-op members to that of a doctor: Diagnosing problems, addressing issues, finding solutions and making sure the systems — and the farmers who rely on them — stay connected.
“Doctors and lawyers call their businesses practices, and I would call this a practice,” Reimer said. “You’re practicing every day and learning every day.”
Federated itself has a storied history in Jackson County and it was responsible, at the height of the Great Depression, for electrifying the area, bringing electricity to hundreds, if not thousands, of families.
“It was started back in 1935 and came out into the countryside and electrified all of the areas outside of town,” Reimer said.
Delivering quality services at a reasonable price is the name of the game in the co-op world, especially as agriculture continues to become more technology intensive.
“These farm businesses are high-tech and the reliability of energy is something we pay very close attention to,” Reimer said. “We’ve done a good job controlling costs, so what we offer our farm businesses is the ability to spend less on electricity.”
The co-op model has a number of unique benefits for farmers, one of the most important being the level of investment, not only in terms of money and infrastructure, but also time.
“We’re in the game for the long haul,” Reimer said. “We do a lot of long-term planning and we do our best to serve the membership, because without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
Federated also works with other co-ops throughout the state, sharing ideas and ways to get things done more effectively. Reimer said that’s proven increasingly important as rural populations decline.
“Co-ops have often been referred to as incubators of innovation,” Reimer said. “We have to solve a lot of problems on our own, so the co-op family is very creative and cost conscious, and we’re very efficient.”
Some of the things Federated has to plan for are recurring, like infrastructure repair and ice storms. To keep costs down, the co-op has diversified its energy portfolio around a number of different sources.
“About 78 cents of every dollar for us is related to wholesale power supply costs, so we try to diversify costs,” Reimer said. “We have four different power supply contracts, so we don’t put our eggs in one basket.”
Beyond his work with Federated, Reimer also serves as president of the Jackson Economic Development Corp.

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