Illinois-based MJM Electric Cooperative is saving money and enjoying improved efficiency in its new headquarters facility financed by CFC.
The west-central Illinois-based distribution cooperative, a 100 percent CFC borrower, serves more than 9,400 accounts across seven rural counties north of St. Louis. The $5 million project replaced its 65-year-old facility with a headquarters that better meets the requirements of the business and its members.
“We were looking to not only satisfy our current needs, but also the needs of our members for the future,” MJM CEO Laura Cutler explained.
From geography to technology, the new facility has enhanced MJM’s operations. “Our old headquarters was tucked in a residential area and safety was a concern with MJM’s bucket trucks, delivery trucks and member traffic,” Cutler said. “The convenience of the new pole yard and warehouse greatly improves our operating functionality.”
The new warehouse has more space to organize storm restoration crews and offers on-property fuel tanks and closed-in truck bays. Technology improvements were also made to speed up data transfer, improving member services.
“Being in a modern facility has definitely improved employee morale and helped attract skilled employees,” Cutler said. “It’s something to be proud of.”
The new, all-electric HQ also features a number of energy-saving features. The building uses ground-source geothermal energy for the administration area, air-source heat pumps for the warehouse and truck bays along with cellulose insulation in the walls and attic. The facility uses LED lighting inside and out, Dark Sky-compliant lights outdoors that reduce light levels by 50 percent when there is no activity and office lights with motion sensors.
Construction was a multi-year research, design and build process from start to finish. “The financing process was a breeze,” Cutler said. “Our relationship with CFC has been very good over the years and it’s always been easy and economical to do our financing with CFC. We initially opened a two-year bridge line of credit, and then rolled that line of credit to long-term debt last year. Despite some construction delays, we managed to end up spending slightly less than our $5 million budget.”
MJM was able to minimize costs by maximizing incentives. Its new HQ is in the Macoupin County Enterprise Zone, qualifying it for a sales tax exemption on any building material purchased in the state of Illinois. The cooperative also qualified for a property tax abatement from local taxing entities and qualified for a USDA Rural Energy for America Program grant by installing the geothermal heat pump system. It also received incentive rebates from its wholesale power supplier, Wabash Valley Power Alliance, for roof and wall insulation, interior lighting, geothermal units and LED pole lighting.
Engaging with members about the need for the new HQ generated a lot of support for the building plan. MJM communicated to its members early in the process that it was looking to either upgrade the old facilities or build new and then explained the reasons why.
“Members have been very responsive to the new facility, with several saying that it was about time,” Cutler said. “Members have also commented on how much the beautiful new building adds to the community.”