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LREC bringing natural gas to rural communities

Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) will be participating in a joint effort to deliver natural gas to the Deer Creek and Parkers Prairie areas. Construction of natural gas distribution infrastructure will begin this spring. The $1.6 million investment by LREC is expected to have gas flowing by August 2017.

The cooperative's board of directors recently approved the joint effort with Greater Minnesota Gas, based in Le Sueur, Minnesota. Greater Minnesota Gas will provide the intrastate pipeline to bring a supply of natural gas to the Deer Creek and Parkers Prairie communities. From there, Lake Region Electric Cooperative will own and maintain the distribution pipeline that serves natural gas customers.

"By getting into the natural gas business, we will be serving an unmet need in this underserved region—something that is at the core of our cooperative principles," explains LREC CEO Tim Thompson. "It comes down to helping consumers increase productivity and save costs. The project with Greater Minnesota Gas represents a cooperative solution to the desire of many people in these two communities and the surrounding area to have access to natural gas service."

Natural gas provides an opportunity for the cooperative to expand its offerings and utilize existing infrastructure. Over its nearly 80 years of existence, LREC has built a strong safety culture and is a partner of Minnesota Rural Electric Association's Safety and Loss Control Program. The new natural gas operations will benefit from and be incorporated into LREC's overall safety, training, service, and reliability culture.

"We are excited to take this new step in diversifying service to this region," says Thompson. "Judging from the support we have already received for the project, people in the Deer Creek and Parkers Prairie areas are equally excited."