How We Serve: Dakota Gas

Trinity Turnbow, Basin Electric vice president and operations manager at Dakota Gas.

Employees at Basin Electric understand their roles as stewards of service to the members of the cooperative. The “How We Serve” series highlights an employee and their work group and explains how they serve our members every day.

Trinity Turnbow has been the operations manager for Dakota Gas since 2013 and was promoted to assistant plant manager in 2019. In 2023, he was promoted to vice president. He previously held the roles of engineer, process engineering supervisor, and operations section manager. Turnbow has a total of 21 years of experience in the chemical and oilfield industries, with 15 of those at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant (Synfuels Plant).

Turnbow shares more about his role and the relationships he has with his team, and how together their purpose has strengthened Basin Electric’s dedication to serving its member-owners.

The operations department at the Synfuels Plant includes the operation of four sections, plus each of their pipelines. The group consists of operators, section engineers, product logistics, and supervision, who are all responsible for maximizing the output, loading, and shipping of 13 products, while prioritizing safety and meeting all environmental and compliance regulations. “Our operations group is instrumental to the Synfuels Plant,” Turnbow says. “They deliver on the high expectations of our customers, membership, and management, and they do this often under tight timelines, in extreme weather conditions, and within constrained budgets.”

The department also includes an onsite chemical laboratory, where nearly all the required operations lab analyses are completed. The laboratory consists of lab technicians, senior chemists, and supervisors. They handle hundreds of various samples daily to safeguard the operation of the plant and ensure customers receive on-spec products. “Dakota Gas’ ability to expand its product slate over the years has been made much easier by having a very talented and intelligent group of lab technicians and senior chemists,” Turnbow says. “The ingenuity and creativity of this group has helped lead the plant to new product and market development, which has been critical to enhancing our revenue streams.”

Protection Services is another group within the operations department. They comprise specialists and supervisors that function as the plant’s security, EMTs, and fire fighters. Protection Services is both the first and last line of defense for the plant. They verify every person that enters the Synfuels Plant, respond to medical emergencies, and institute the incident command system should any significant event occur on plant site. They have even responded to other facilities in the area to assist during emergencies. “I sleep better at night knowing this group is always available to keep us safe,” Turnbow says.

In the near term, Dakota Gas will be focusing on improving reliability of the gas path portions of the plant and future infrastructure improvement projects. The plant is also working to complete a new CO2 sequestration project that will provide tremendous value throughout the financial forecast.

“Barely a day goes by where I don’t learn something new working for Dakota Gas and Basin Electric. The Synfuels Plant is a very complex operation with a lot of moving parts that consistently challenges all of us to continue learning the process and to think about what we can do next to make improvements,” Turnbow says. “As my role has expanded over the past several years, I’ve been able to participate on numerous Basin Electric teams, such as the senior leadership team, the process assessment team, and the risk management steering committee. This has given me the opportunity to learn more about the electric generation and transmission and marketing sides of the business. I have also been able to meet and get to know more of our members. I have enjoyed the challenges and almost constant learning, while getting to know people in just about every department.”

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