Industry Partner Spotlight: Dakota Electric

Not-for-profit electric cooperative supports Inver Hills and DCTC

Dakota Electric Association®, a not-for-profit electric cooperative serving farm, residential and business customers in Dakota County and portions of Goodhue, Scott and Rice counties, is a longstanding industry partner with Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College. Located 10 miles apart in Dakota County, both two-year colleges are celebrating their 50th Anniversaries. Visit Two Proud Histories, One Bold Future to learn more.

“Dakota Electric® has a tremendous history of providing essential support and service to both colleges,” said Michael Berndt, president of Inver Hills and DCTC. “Greg Miller, Dakota Electric president and CEO, joined the DCTC Foundation Board in 1998 and served as chair until 2013. Greg received the DCTC Advocacy Award in 2008. This year, Doug Larson, the association’s vice president of regulatory services, is serving as chair of the Inver Hills Foundation Board.”

Bernie Kolnberger
Bernie Kolnberger

Bernie Kolnberger, utility services manager at Dakota Electric, serves on the DCTC Foundation Board. Bernie started at the cooperative in 1996. His ground-up, hands-on approach has served him well both in learning and in educating others in the field along the way.

President Berndt reported that Dakota Electric’s contributions over the years to both colleges are just shy of $670,000 with most of this coming from unclaimed capital credits.

“Inver Hills and DCTC will continue partnering with Dakota Electric Association® to attract business and industry to our region,” he said. “The colleges will be an ongoing resource for workforce recruitment as well as training partners helping companies retain and advance their current employees.”

Greg Miller recognizes how higher education supports the workforce requirements of business and industry while enhancing the economies of area communities. “Our partnership with Inver Hills and DCTC is invaluable,” Greg said. “They are turning out skilled workers ready for employment. We have hired many graduates over the years, and I know there are many of their students in the workforce in Dakota County. We appreciate the roles these colleges have played in the economic vitality in this area over the years.”

A recently completed economic impact study demonstrates how Inver Hills and DCTC generate an economic impact of $334 million each year from supporting and sustaining more than 2,880 jobs to generating almost 20 million in state and local revenue.

Support for Inver Hills

Since 2000, Dakota Electric® has contributed nearly $280,000 to Inver Hills Community College in support of students and academic programs.

Kim Shaff related that Dakota Electric contributions have had a significant positive impact on student success at Inver Hills.

“By providing a large number of scholarships each year, Dakota Electric helps students reduce the stress of paying for college,” Kim said. “For many students, Dakota Electric scholarships are life-changing. Receiving these funds means they can stay enrolled full-time and graduate within two years. Students with jobs are able to cut back on their work hours so they can focus more on their education. The funds also reduce their out-of-pocket college costs, thus freeing up money in their budgets for living expenses.”

Dakota Electric Scholarship recipients

Tamika Black
Tamika Black
Tamika Black was awarded two $500 Dakota Electric scholarships. Tamika graduated from Inver Hills in 2019 with her A.A. with Emphasis in Anthropology. LEARN MORE…

Abigail Larson
Abigail Larson
Abigail Larson was awarded one $500 Dakota Electric Scholarship. Abigail graduated from Inver Hills in 2019 with her A.S. in NursingLEARN MORE…

Dakota Electric Association® Library Classroom

Renovated in 2013 and located in the Library building on the Inver Hills campus, the Dakota Electric Association Library Classroom is a central gathering place for students accessing the technology they need for homework, research, studying and other academic pursuits.

  • Renovation added 15 computer stations for a total of 38
  • Classroom functions as an open computer lab when library classes are not in session
  • Classroom and group study rooms are equipped with whiteboards and whiteboard paint

About the Inver Hills Foundation

The Inver Hills Foundation promotes Inver Hills Community College by building partnerships with area high schools, businesses, community organizations and government agencies.

We build capacity by securing financial and other resources that further the mission of the college. We assist students, faculty and staff seeking educational excellence.


About Doug Larson…

Doug at Inver Hills Scholarship Recognition Dinner 2020
Doug Larson
Doug Larson

Doug Larson serves as vice president of regulatory services Dakota Electric. Doug’s responsibilities in this role include preparing and coordinating filings for state regulators, reviewing wholesale power supply matters, and tracking state and federal legislation.

Doug joined the Inver Hills Foundation Board of Directors in 2012; he currently serves as the board’s chairperson.

Support for DCTC

Since 2001, Dakota Electric Association® has provided nearly $19,000 to Dakota County Technical College in support for general fundraisers, including the Blue Knights Athletics Golf Outing & Fundraiser. Contributions to the Kopp Endowment, annual galas and various programs are nearly $85,000. The association’s total contributions to DCTC since 2004 are more than $287,000.

The Dakota Electric Association Scholarship provides special consideration for financial need, limited family financial support and/or extraordinary life challenges. All majors are considered.

“Dakota Electric understands that paying for a college education can be a significant financial burden on students, and the association has been extremely generous in their support for students at DCTC and Inver Hills,” said Kim Shaff, interim foundation director for both colleges. “Dakota Electric Association scholarships not only provide students with funds for tuition and other expenses, the funds also give students a boost in confidence when they realize someone believes in them enough to help them achieve their academic goals.”

DCTC Electrical Lineworker connection…

Every year, Dakota Electric® takes DCTC Electrical Lineworker students on tours of the cooperative’s headquarters in Farmington, Minnesota. The tours highlight job opportunities in operations while offering insights on what it takes to be successful in the lineworker trade.

Dakota Electric’s Human Resources department is very helpful setting up the tours, answering questions from faculty and students, and working with program candidates to fill open positions.

Dakota Electric offers around six 1000-hour paid internship positions annually. DCTC students regularly apply and the program has had great success with getting students hired for these crucial positions.

The 1,000-hour internship is a must for students seeking full-time employment with the cooperative. The Electrical Lineworker program has a large number of graduates employed at Dakota Electric, which is an exceptionally valuable industry partner with DCTC in terms of donations. Over the last five years, the Electrical Lineworker program has received more than $70,000 in donations of tools and equipment from the association.

“Dakota Electric warehouse personnel and Jessica Klein, the cooperative’s inventory analyst and buyer, have been excellent about contacting us and putting together donation lists,” said Jesse Boots, Electrical Lineworker faculty. “We live off these donations, so they are greatly appreciated.”

Jake Marthaler, another instructor in the program, reported that his grandfather, a Korean War veteran, was a lineworker with Dakota Electric.

Dakota Electric also sends employees to the MREA Hotline School the college hosts, giving DCTC students the opportunity to get real-life experience working alongside practiced and knowledgeable lineworker crews.

About the DCTC Foundation

Established in 1983 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the DCTC Foundation functions as an avenue for gifts and grants that benefit the college and our students. By providing resources to students, the college and our programs, the Foundation upholds the DCTC mission, which is Education for Employment.

Governed by a board of directors with up to 18 members, the Foundation has generated more than $3.2 million in financial assistance for students while building a general endowment fund and establishing private endowment funds.

The Foundation has also received in-kind donations for equipment, tools, and supplies used in many DCTC programs.

Students pursuing higher education face mounting financial challenges. During a typical year, the Foundation provides financial support to more than 500 DCTC students, helping them pay for tuition, books, transportation and unanticipated expenses.


About Greg Miller…

Greg at Inver Hills Scholarship Recognition Dinner 2020

A native of Rochester, Minnesota, Greg Miller, president and CEO of Dakota Electric Association, graduated from Rochester John Marshall High School and went on to earn an Associate of Arts (A.A.) from Rochester Community and Technical College and bachelor’s degrees in business and computer science from Minnesota State University Mankato.

Greg Miller

After working 11 years for the Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative in Jordan, Minnesota, Greg accepted the position of executive vice president at the Dakota Electric in  Farmington. He was promoted to CEO in 2001.

Greg’s contributions to DCTC include portraying a bald Howie Mandel hosting a fundraiser game show called Full Deal or No Deal at the 5th Annual DCTC College Showcase in 2008. The following year at the showcase, he portrayed a purple-suited (including top hat and walking stick) Willy Wonka hosting a game show called Gold or No Gold.

Greg has been married since 1983 to his wife, DeLonne. Greg and DeLonne have  two children, a daughter, Chanel, and a son, Connor.

Dakota Electric Association® at a Glance¹

Dakota Electric Association® is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative founded by local farmers in 1937 with the help of the Rural Electrification Administration.

Dakota ElectricSM utility services are regulated by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Dakota Electric Association is the only regulated electric cooperative in Minnesota. Dakota ElectricSM utility services reach more than 109,000 members. This makes Dakota Electric Association the second largest electric cooperative in Minnesota and ranked among the 25 largest electric distribution cooperatives in the nation.

Dakota Electric Association purchases wholesale electricity from Great River Energy, a generation and transmission cooperative in Maple Grove, Minnesota. Dakota ElectricSM utility services are distributed to homes, businesses and farms in parts of Dakota, Goodhue, Scott and Rice counties.


Facts & Stats

  • 195 full-time and part-time employees
  • 109,089 members served
  • 4,149 miles of line (2,961 underground and 1,188 overhead)
  • 1.82 billion kWh sold annually
  • $202 million total revenue

Learn more about the partnership between Dakota Electric Association® and Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College by contacting:

Kim Shaff
Interim Foundation Director
Inver Hills Community College
Dakota County Technical College

¹ Courtesy of Dakota Electric Association®

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