About Cherryland Electric Cooperative


What Is a Cooperative?

Cooperatives are businesses, but they're not in it for the money. Because they are not-for-profits, cooperatives don't operate to make shareholders richer. When cooperatives make more money than they spend, and when they're in a good place financially, that extra money (called "margins") goes right back into members' pockets. At Cherryland, we try our hardest every year to keep our costs down and to pass those cost savings on to you in the form of lower rates and better margins.
Cooperatives Are Controlled by You
When you belong to a cooperative, you decide who's in charge. You choose the board members and directors, so you have a direct impact on what happens. So vote for people who share the same beliefs as you!
Cooperatives Are All About Service
Typical businesses chase after profits like a horse wearing blinders. Since cooperatives aren't your typical business, they tend to focus their energy on other things, like member service. Also, cooperatives are usually pretty small, so they're able to give members more personalized attention.
Cooperatives Support Their Communities
Cooperatives are known for taking care of their communities. It's just another thing that tends to happen when money's not the goal. Here are a few ways Cherryland—with your incredibly generous help—gives back to northern Michigan:

  • In five years, we've given $250,000 to food banks and other deserving groups through Cherryland Cares

  • Every year, we provide college scholarships to motivated, hardworking high school seniors

  • We also give adult education scholarships to members who are going back to school and need some help with the tuition

  • Each year, we sponsor students to attend a youth leadership summit, where they explore their career options and build their character

  • Our employees volunteer hundreds of hours each year with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Freedom Builders and Munson Manor

Learn more about our community and member co-op programs!

History of Cherryland

In 1938, three Grand Traverse men were on a mission.

President Roosevelt had just promised to bring electricity to farmers and others living in rural areas, and Max Goin, Frank Burkhart and Eino Lehto were committed to making it happen in northern Michigan.

So they spent a year gathering the information they needed, formed a co-op and submitted a loan application to build a substation and 300 miles of line.

Fast forward a few months, and the first Cherryland linemen headed out to the backwoods, using dangerous equipment and working in hazardous conditions. Imagine this: you're one of the first employees of Cherryland, and you have to dynamite a swampy area to get the pole in. The only problem is, the dynamite was so powerful it would sometimes blow the top of the pole right off—you quickly learned to get out of the way.

It wasn't easy, but these men recognized the importance of getting electricity to everyone who needed it. Can you imagine how hard it must have been working by the flickering light of a candle or kerosene lamp?

The first lines were energized on May 25, 1939, and 60 people in rural Grand Traverse could now refrigerate their food and more efficiently do their farm chores. Cherryland was in business.

Cherryland Then and Now
Since that time, Cherryland has grown, but we haven't forgotten our roots. We're still just as committed to helping our neighbors, and we still take pride in bringing electricity to northern Michigan residents.

Today, Cherryland is in six counties—Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Kalkaska, Wexford and Manistee—and we have 35,000 members. We're a community cooperative, and we're dedicated to serving our members now and in the future. Check out how you can get involved!

Meet Your Board of Directors

Cooperatives are member-owned and member-governed. You elect our Board of Directors and they manage the business affairs of our cooperative.

Board of Directors

Tony Anderson

General Manager
(231) 486-9214

Terry Lautner

Director at Large
(231) 946-4623

Tom Van Pelt

Leelanau County
Senior Vice President
(231) 386-5234

Melinda Lautner

Director at Large
(231) 947-2509

David Schweitzer

Director at Large
(231) 883-5860

John Olson

Director at Large
(231) 938-1228

Gabe Schneider

Grand Traverse/Kalkaska
(517) 449-6453

Jon Zickert

(231) 631-1337

Interested in serving on Cherryland’s board?

At our annual meeting, Cherryland’s membership elects directors to serve a three-year term. All qualified members are encouraged to consider serving. The nominating period is the first day of March through 4pm on the last business day of March. All nominees must meet the director qualifications set forth by the Cherryland bylaws.

Have Feedback for Your Board?

All Cherryland members are invited to provide direct input to the board on a quarterly basis. Quarterly input sessions are held at our monthly board meeting on the 3rd Monday in March, June, September, and December. Please arrive by 9am and plan to keep your comments to 5 minutes.
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    A Great Place to Work

    Cherryland employs over 50 people. They live, work, and play in our community and are committed to keeping the lights on in our region.

    Here are a few reasons why Cherryland is a great place to work:
    • We invest in employee development and advancement
    • We have an active volunteer and community service program
    • We provide a comprehensive employee benefit program
    • We are a forward-thinking organization with amazing people

    Cherryland Bylaws

    Our bylaws provide the framework for our operation and management. For your board of directors, the bylaws are the guidelines for making decisions on the behalf of the cooperative. For members, the bylaws are the list of expectations for their cooperative.

    As a member-regulated utility, Cherryland operates under board-approved rules, regulations and rates. You can review our current tariff and services rules here.


    Annual Meeting

    What do laser tag, lawyers, and line workers all have in common? You can find all of them at our Annual Meeting!

    Every June we get together at Incredible Mo’s with more than 1,000 of our fellow co-op members to celebrate the co-op we all love. Come enjoy bowling, live entertainment, food, and arcade games for free.

    It’s not all fun and games, you will also hear updates about the co-op’s financials, elect directors to represent you on the board, and learn more about the co-op you own.

    And then, after all our business is concluded, we raffle off a bunch of great prizes. Because we believe our annual meeting should be as awesome as our co-op.

    This event is open to all Cherryland members.


    Capital Credits

    When you belong to a co-op, you’re not just a customer. You’re an owner. That means you have a financial stake in the cooperative.

    Cherryland’s employees and board run a tight ship. We work hard to deliver you electric service you can count on at the lowest possible price. As a not-for-profit utility, we aren’t driven by dollars, we’re driven by what’s best for you, our members. But, sometimes we collect more money than we need to run our business. When we have excess revenue, we return it right back to you as capital credits.

    Who gets a capital credit?

    Everyone who buys, or has bought, electricity from Cherryland.

    When are capital credits returned to members?

    Capital credits are returned in two steps. Every year, excess revenue is allocated to members as a capital credit allocation on their June bill. That allocation is not a bill credit, it is a notice of your share of the previous year’s revenues. Your board of directors reviews the co-ops financials and if the co-op is in good financial shape, they vote to retire a portion of the capital credits that were allocated in previous years. Retired capital credits will appear on members’ bills as a bill credit in December.

    If you are the estate executor for a member who holds capital credits in the co-op, please fill out the estate affidavit to access their account.

    What does Cherryland do with capital credits that haven’t been returned to members?

    We use that money to build and maintain the distribution system that keeps your lights on. That capital is used to reduce your co-op’s long-term debt so our costs stay low and your rates stay affordable in the future. Eventually all of a member’s capital credits will be returned to them through board-approved capital credit retirements.

    What if I move before you retire all of my capital credits? Well, first of all, we’ll miss you! And, we will continue to mail your retirements to you. That’s why it’s important that you inform us of any address changes.

    You would be surprised how many people leave and forget about their capital credits. If you think you might be one of them, check to see if you are on our unclaimed capital credit list.