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Wiidookodaadiyang Giniigaanayi'iiminaaning - “Working Together for our Future”

Red Lake Energy: Propane - Better Prices, Less Stringent Policies


Employee William Clark prepares to make a delivery in the Propane delivery truck

Red Lake Nation Propane was established in 2009, and was in full operation about a year ago.

“Red Lake members finally have their own propane company that offers competitive prices on fuel, and less stringent policies, without the sacrifice of safety and professionalism”, said Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain, Jr. in the 2011 State of the Band address.

“Our company has its own delivery trucks, tanks, and the capability to service all areas of the reservation, and surrounding communities. We are extremely excited about having our own propane company,", announced Jourdain.

The new tribally owned utility has created four full-time jobs. Red Lake Nation propane has exceeded it's goal and now has installed many residential and commercial tanks. According to propane manager Bob Oelke, so far the propane company has 300 homeowner customers, and 80 tribal entity clients.

Red Lake decided to compete with the two area propane companies after hearing from unsatisfied customers, and the two propane dealers seemingly unwilling “to make a deal”.

Said Oelke, “there have been cases reported on the reservation where a customer might see a ‘pilot light charge’ on their bill when they have an automatic pilot. This is just one example of hidden or non-existent costs that we have heard complaints about, and one of the reasons the tribe got into the business. A lot of competition is good, and a little competition usually does it."

“There’s a lot of room for business growth on and off the reservation”, said Oelke. “We are 'not' soliciting off reservation business at this time, but if they come to us we will provide service to them. we grow slowly...we will service off reservation customers, but now our concentration is on tribal members if...they want our service. We are on a slow growth process, because gas safety codes must be met, and safety is paramount."

“We value our customers. We save our members money by offering efficiency, better service, no hidden charges or surcharges," said Red Lake Nation Propane employee Terrance Jourdain. “We practice code and safety, and with that level of safety and service comes better reliability."

He added that if there needs to be, “we provide 24 hour service."

“We minimize expenses by being a tribal (government) business," Jourdain went on, “and also by being efficient with time and money, we just plain provide a better service for less money."

With Red Lake Nation Propane, there is no tank rental. “We keep our eye out for good deals on tanks and refurbished tanks," added Oelke. "This adds to our competitive edge.”

Red Lake propane is close to a 30,000 gallon tank near Seven Clans Casino, which serves the casino and other customers. In the near future, a new 30,000 tank will go in in the industrial area at Redby. One tank will go in yet this year, one next year, and one the year after that, for a total of three 30,000 gallon tanks.

The office for the propane company is at the casino maintenance shop. They will move to Redby when the new large tank is installed and operating. “At that point, we will also begin service for refills on barbeque gas tanks, and eventually have an exchange program for barbeque tanks," announced Oelke.

Oelke added that at some point, Red Lake Nation propane will also make available for sale, gas and other appliances as a business...complete with show room. “The Redby plant will put us closer to our customers," he said.

Red Lake Energy: Propane, is named as such, because Red Lake Energy has plans for the future. The Tribe will be looking for other types of energy production by and for Red Lakers. This could include, wind, solar, and even electricity generated from power dams.

Bob Oelke, manager of Red Lake Nation Propane said of competing with the other two propane dealers; “A lot of competition is good, and a little competition usually does it.”

Concluded the staff at Red Lake Nation Propane: “Red Lake Nation created Red Lake Nation Energy with a vision of providing propane and other energy products to Red Lake nation members and others throughout the north country. We provide propane at a competitive price with better service than you might be used to. How? We eliminated the middle man and buy it direct from the source. So propane comes to you in a more efficient and economical way. Our equipment is state of the art, and our staff is trained and certified. We’ll work with all fuel assistance programs, and structure a product, service and payment plan that works for you.”


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