Power on The Prairie: Cass County Electric Cooperative

3 mins read
Cass County Electric Cooperative Working Outdoors

Since its formation in 1937, Cass County Electric Cooperative (CCEC) has been at the forefront of providing electricity to southeast North Dakota. I had the opportunity to talk with Paul Matthys, vice president of CCEC’s Member and Energy Services for CCEC. We discussed CCEC’s rich history, current initiatives including community engagement, and future outlook. From its first account in 1938 to the 58,000 accounts the cooperative serves today, they have stayed true to its commitment to the communities it serves.

Paul Matthys, VP of Member and Energy Services

Get To Know CCEC

CCEC’s Core Values

  • Safety
  • Integrity
  • Innovation
  • Accountability
  • Community

The Mission

To serve members’ energy needs with affordable and reliable electricity.

Did You Know?

Cass County Electric Cooperative has 41 substations.

The Spark of Beginnings

Shortly after energizing its first account, CCEC signed purchase power requirements with their wholesale power provider, Minnkota Power Cooperative, to purchase electricity from them to provide to their members. Since then, CCEC has been a critical part of providing electricity to rural members of southeast North Dakota, including a large portion of Fargo and West Fargo residential and commercial businesses’ electricity. While the cooperative has made a significant impact in our state since launching, its mission extends beyond providing electricity. 

Who is CCEC’s Power Supplier?

“Minnkota Power Cooperative is a nonprofit electric generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in Grand Forks, ND. Formed in 1940, Minnkota provides wholesale electric energy to 11 member-owner distribution cooperatives located in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.”

– Cass County Electric Cooperative Website

By partnering with local economic development groups, including Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC) and the West Fargo Economic Development Advisory Committee, CCEC has become a key player in the region’s economic landscape. “We’re involved in rural communities’ economic development groups and we’re big supporters of our local chambers in the communities that we serve,” Matthys said. “We’re big into giving back to our communities through food pantries, charitable donations, and more. We aim to provide the time, talent, and resources to our community supporters to help our communities thrive and prosper.”

Did You Know?

At the time of writing, Cass County Electric Cooperative has 5,776 miles of line!

(*2,801 Overhead, 2,957 Underground)

Counties that CCEC Impacts

  • Barnes
  • Cass
  • Dickey
  • LaMoure
  • Ranso
  • Richland
  • Sargent
  • Steele
  • Stutsman
  • Traill

Employee retention is another area where CCEC excels.

“Being a contributing part of promoting and attracting the workforce has been an important role for us,” Matthys said. “We’ve worked with the FMWF Chamber on doing some interviews and stories about what there is to do in North Dakota’s communities, whether it be the lakes area, fishing, hunting, the arts available, and so much else in North Dakota. We’re helping them promote those qualities to attract a workforce from outside of the area.” Furthermore, CCEC also works with local universities to help retain students who are graduating soon to continue working in our communities and raise their families here.

Overcoming Challenges

CCEC is community-oriented! The cooperative has supported breast cancer awareness, local Girl Scouts, community art nights, and more!

Navigating the challenges of workforce and talent acquisition has been a significant focus for CCEC, which is working closely with the FMWF Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations. “We’re a big part of supporting those organizations and providing resources to help attract talent while also promoting business retention,” Matthys said.

“We focus a lot on attracting new businesses to the area as well. Furthermore, we’ve also worked with the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC) on the Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) program, which was created to help promote, attract, and retain the businesses that we have in the area.”

"I started with Cass County Electric Cooperative 23 years ago as an electrician. Culture-wise, Cass County Electric is a great company to work for. We provide electricity to rural homes, farms, and businesses in urban areas, with the cooperative culture of a nonprofit business. We're owned and governed by the members that we serve. It's been a great opportunity and a great place to have a career."

Bright Future Ahead

Looking to the future, Matthys is optimistic for not only the growth of CCEC but also the future of the industry with proper support. “Our future is bright. We have great employees and we’re in a time of economic prosperity and growth,” Matthys said. CCEC’s role in supporting new businesses and contributing to a business-friendly environment has been helpful to other organizations also looking to uplift North Dakota.

The CCEC credits local chambers for promoting a business-healthy environment to impact the entire state. “From Governor Doug Burgum promoting business in North Dakota to local governments making a difference, we’re in an excellent spot for future growth and prosperity here in North Dakota,” Matthys said.

Cass County Electric Cooperative’s journey from its early days to its current role as a key player in contributing to the state’s growth and prosperity is a story of dedication. Since 1937, CCEC has remained committed to its mission of serving its members and contributing to the region’s economic strength. With a bright future ahead, CCEC continues to demonstrate the power of cooperation and community-focused energy solutions.

Giving Back to the Community

The cooperative’s business model, focused on serving rather than appeasing investors, stands as a model of CCEC’s mission at hand. CCEC is governed by an elected board of directors, all of whom are members they serve. Any excess margins at the end of the year are then allocated by the board of directors back to members served in the form of “capital credits,” where they get a check back for being a member and supporting the cooperative.

“We don’t have investors to appease; we’re focused on our members. Everything that we do every day with our operations is for our members.

Paul Matthys, VP of Member and Energy Services

Cass County Electric Cooperative

[email protected]
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4100 32nd Ave S Fargo, ND 58104