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    Northern States Power Essay (2298 words)

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    A leader in today’s economic world, Northern States Power (NSP) is recognized for its outstanding performance in both regulated and non-regulated operations. Its regulated operation serves over two million electric and gas customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, and Michigan (NSP – Investor’s Overview, 1).

    Its head offices are located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is Mr. James J. Howard III (Howard, 1). Its Viking Gas Transmission Company subsidiary owns and operates a 500-mile natural gas pipeline (NSP – Investor’s Overview, 1).

    Northern States Power is one of the nation’s leading energy companies, with competitive rates, responsive service, and dependable and reliable energy. A relationship with NSP begins when customers sign up for services with them or choose to live in a certain area. Some facts about NSP include its services/people, profit, rates, sources of power, standings, first aid/safety, Y2K, merger, and how they help within the community. In North Dakota, NSP provides service to more than 80,000 electric customers and 30,000 gas customers in Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot, and many surrounding communities (NSP – Northern Dakota, 1). They have served in these communities for over 80 years (Northern States Power Energy Wise, 2).

    “By powering the world, NSP brings energy to (Howard, 6):”

    • The international markets where we do business
    • The communities close to home where we contribute time and money
    • Customers who have ever-increasing energy needs and choices
    • Employees who make the energy work
    • Shareholders who have placed trust in us.

    The 24th straight year in a row to mark growth for NSP was 1998. Northern States Power’s common stocks are traded on three different exchanges: New York Stock, Chicago Stock, and Pacific Stock. Its ticker tape symbol is NSP. Newspaper stock tables list NSP Company as NoStPw, NoStPwr, or NSPw (NSP – Investor’s Overview, 2).

    Northern States Power and its subsidiaries reported earnings of $52.3 million or 34 cents a share for the first quarter of 1999. Operating revenue for the quarter was up 6 percent to $743.2 million. Warmer weather, increased maintenance, and Y2K computer work caused the decreased earnings (NSP First-quarter).

    “Advantages of being a registered shareholder are (NSP – Investor’s overview 2):

    Dividend checks are sent directly to you, deposited in the bank account you designate, or may be reinvested in the company as you choose.
    You may purchase additional stock (through dividend reinvestment and optional investment plans) with little or no fees.
    You may deposit your share certificates with the company for safekeeping if you sign up for the Dividend Reinvestment Program. Shareholder company mailings will be sent directly to your address.
    “Electricity is an extremely price-volatile commodity. The price of on-peak electricity on April 15, 1998, ranged from $20 per megawatt-hour to $38 per megawatt-hour. Competitive prices serve us well today but become an even greater advantage in a competitive market (Howard 3).”

    “In trying to compare different electrical service companies, I talked with my Uncle Edward Schiele from Karlsruhe, North Dakota. I asked him what his monthly electric bill averages, and he said it is between $100 to $115 a month during the winter months. Verendrye Electric Cooperative out of Velva, North Dakota, services Karlsruhe with its electrical needs. Karlsruhe is a rural community of around 150-200 people (Schiele, Edward). Our family’s electrical service needs are serviced by NSP. My mother, Virginia Schiele, said our last electrical bill was only $41.49. That is a big difference from my uncle’s bill. Additionally, my mother told me that when we lived in Holiday Village Trailer Court, we were serviced by Verendrye Electric, and the bill averaged around $80 a month in the winter (Schiele, Virginia). Across North Dakota, there are many different electrical companies. Electricity from other utility companies can cost up to 63 percent more than from Northern States Power.

    In checking nine different companies, they ranged from $72.50 a month with Cass County Electric to Northern States Power at $49.68. Northern States Power has the lowest electric rates for North Dakota customers. If you’re looking for the best value, it is definitely Northern States Power (Northern States Power Energy Wise 2).

    There is always a challenge on energy pricing. In recent years, many businesses have explored cogeneration, that is harnessing energy from the excess heat produced in manufacturing (Brauer 2). Northern States Power is investing in renewable sources of power. It is studying the use of solar, wind, and biomass energy sources and how they fit into our energy’s future needs (Northern States Power Company Home 2). During the 7th century, the ancient Persians were believed to have built the first windmill.

    The earlier windmills used driving pumps or grindstones to produce power. Today’s windmills use blades and were once a common sight on American farms (NSP Renew Wind 1). Wind turbines, the modern counterpart of windmills, drive electric generators. A turbine, installed on top of a tower, has three blades with a rotor diameter of 160 feet. Towers average 100 to 175 feet tall (NSP Renew Wind 1). A turbine operates under the same principle as airplane wings. Lift is the force that pulls the blades covering the linear motion into rotational motion that drives an electric generator. It takes 67 to 200 wind turbines to generate 100 megawatts of electricity (NSP Renew Wind 2).

    As with all sources of generation, NSP seeks to minimize the advantages and minimize the disadvantages. They choose companies that can provide the latest, most cost-effective technology and select sites identified through extensive research as the windiest area. Additionally, sites are chosen in close proximity to transmission lines (NSP Renew Wind 2). Using solar power goes back to 1839 when French scientist Edmond Becquerel first discovered that on certain materials, light could create an electric charge. However, nothing became of it until the 1960s when the United States space program began the use of silicon-based photovoltaic cells to power some satellite applications (NSP Solar 1). Usually made of silicon, solar photovoltaic panels contain cells that convert sunlight directly into electricity. These systems can operate independently or be connected to utility electrical grids already in use. Conducting research since 1982, the use of grid-connected photovoltaic systems is what interests NSP (NSP Solar 2).

    Biomass is the use of any organic material that can be used as fuel. Examples include agriculture, crops, trees, grasses, seed hulls, animal waste, landfill gas, and wood wastes from forests, orchards, mills, and construction. People have used these products to heat homes for thousands of years. Today, some use biomass in combination with other fuels to generate electricity (NSP Biomass 1). Northern States Power uses wood waste to produce electricity at one plant and at another, it uses landfill methane gas. However, extreme care must be taken to use biomass in an environmentally responsible way (NSP Biomass 1). Northern States Power has strong traditional values for the protection of the environment.

    They believe in protecting the delicate balance between the need for reliable energy and minimizing the impact for energy production and distribution. Among the utility companies, NSP is a leader in a variety of initiatives to preserve our natural resources, use renewable energy sources, and minimize its impact on the environment (NSP Environmental 1). How does North and South Dakota stand in items rates by NSP? Let’s take a look. All states serviced by NSP had zero lost workdays in January 1999, and five lost workdays were noted in June 1998, with the Dakotas showing none. The Dakotas have zero incidents noted in January 1999 for safety; but in June 1998, they had two on the records.

    Other states reported a total of 56 lost days up until June 1998 and six in January 1999 (Delivery 1). For Projects Completed-on-Time, the Dakotas have no rating. All other states have a completion rate of 93 percent, with the goal being 80 percent. To me, this shows NSP is dedicated to quality service to its customers (Delivery 1). Projects cost commissions are hard to estimate or rate, but to show you expenditures, here are a few shockers.

    Remember that all projected costs are in the millions. Fargo shows $83 million, Grand Forks shows $102 million, Minot shows $87 million, and Sioux Falls shows $79 million. Actual costs were $87 million (Delivery 1). Northern States Power has budgeted $24 million for checking its equipment to make sure there are no problems when the year 2000 arrives. Dealing with electrical outages daily, NSP expects only a minimal disruption of service to its customers (NSP First-quarter B6).

    They have already confirmed the readiness of 70 percent of the equipment and systems. With 80 percent of its systems predating computers, their systems can be operated manually. In one case, a sensing device was placed into a millennium changeover; all it took was an extra 1.5 seconds to operate, a time that will not impair the system functions (NSP News Release 1 & 2). Whether at home or work, standard first aid knowledge and safety training are a must.

    No one knows the time or day someone, or even themselves, may be hurt or become ill and need help (Missouri ii). Individuals working with electrical lines encounter many situations that can cause injury if not properly thought out and safety principles applied. First aid is one of those subjects you must know, but hope that you will never have to use (Missouri ii). On one such incident, my brother, James Horsfall, was the first individual to respond.

    He had only been working as an apprentice lineman for NSP for about one year when the accident occurred. They were taken down and replacing an overhead electrical line around Edina Prairie School when the accident occurred. They had all the proper safety guards up, and an OSHA safety inspector was on the job with them (Horsfall). Everything was going along fine until kids on bikes started going in and around the orange safety cones. A little later, a vehicle drove around the orange cones and over the wires on the ground.

    When the vehicle went over the wires, this caused them to go fling. One wire clipped my brother in the back calves of his legs, and he went down (he was wearing knee-high lineman boots). The OSHA safety inspector was also caught off guard and was clipped in the front of his legs just below the knees, and another wire chipped him in the back, just below his shoulders (Horsfall). Ensuring his safety first, James crawled to the safety inspector.

    He noted a massive bleed to the head and immediately applied direct pressure to the wound. He then instructed the gentleman not to move and called for additional help (Horsfall). The OSHA inspector had minor abrasions and lacerations with a severe head injury and was hospitalized for two to three weeks. James was commended for his fast action to assure the safety and lesson the injury. The vehicle’s driver was cited for her failure to observe the safety precautions in this incident.

    Northern States Power’s action after this incident was to place safety cones only five feet apart (Horsfall). Northern States Power goes international when they entered into a definitive merger agreement with the Denver, Colorado-based New Century Energies (NSP – New Release 1). The two utilities companies plan to create the nation’s third-largest utility company servicing well over three million customers in the United States and two million customers internationally.

    The new, yet to be named company will stretch from the Canadian border to Mexico, with a strong global presence in the United Kingdom, Central Europe, Australia, and South America (Padley 1). The merger is expected to result in a net savings over the next 10 years of over $1.1 billion. Additionally, it is expected to be a tax-free, stock-for-stock exchange for shareholders of both companies. This merger prepares the new company for where the industry is going and not where it is today, which is important to customers of the future (NSP – New Release 3).

    Working with retirees and their families, NSP works to improve the quality of life in our communities. They support local and national initiatives and provide direct support for any involvement with schools, students, and community-based organizations (NSP Community 1 & 2).

    Northern States Power supports a wide variety of community-based programs (NSP Community 1 & 2):

    • Education Partnerships
    • Event Support
    • Energy Education K-12
    • Calendar Contest K-6
    • Nonprofit Board Participation
    • Power Plant Tours
    • Speakers Bureau
    • Volunteerism

    The majority of these programs are based in the Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota area, but you can contact any NSP office to see what services are available in your area. You can also request additional information at email protected (NSP Community 1). To sum things up, it has been said that NSP is the energy to make things happen. In doing the math, I found that looking at the services/people, sources of power, rates, profits, Y2K, community involvement, and merger information, you can’t go wrong in choosing NSP if you live in the serving area.

    Northern States Power is the best value for your money, but any money does not go as far as it used to. Customers who get their electrical and gas needs from NSP or any one of their subsidiaries are truly the winners in today’s world and getting their money’s worth.

    Works Cited:

    1. Brauer, David. “NSP’s Grass-Roots Political Strategy.” Corporate Report Minnesota, Mar. 94, Vol. 25, Issue 3, P40, 1p.
    2. Deliver System Construction & Field Operations. Monthly Performance Update. January 1999.
    3. Howard, James J. III. “1998 Shareholders Annual Meeting.” Online. Microsoft Explorer. Internet. 22 March 1999. Available:
    5. Missouri Valley Line Constructors Apprenticeship. “First Aid.” September 1993.
    6. NSP – Biomass. Online. Microsoft Explorer. Internet. 25 March 1999. Available:
    7. NSP Community Involvement. Online. Microsoft Explorer. Internet. 22 March 1999. Available:
    9. NSP – Environmental Initiatives. Online. Microsoft Explorer. Internet. 22 March 1999. Available:
    10. NSP First-quarter Earnings Cut. Minot Daily News, 16 April 1999: B6.
    11. NSP – News Release. Online. Microsoft Explorer. Internet. 25 March 1999. Available:
    12. NSP – News Release. Online. Microsoft Explorer. Internet. 26 March 1999. Available:
    13. NSP – North Dakota. Online. Microsoft Explorer. Internet. 22 March 1999. Available:
    14. NSP Renew Wind. Online. Microsoft Explorer. Internet. 25 March 1999. Available:
    15. NSP – Solar. Online. Microsoft Explorer. Internet. 25 March 1999. Available:
    16. Northern States Power Investor’s Overview. Online. Microsoft Explorer. Internet. 22 March 1999. Available:

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