Basin Electric, members discuss the strength of the cooperative at 2022 Annual Meeting

Todd Telesz
Todd Telesz, Basin Electric CEO and general manager, addresses members and others at Basin Electric's 2022 Annual Meeting.

More than 700 member cooperative employees, directors, public officials, and utility representatives attended Basin Electric’s 2022 Annual Meeting of its membership on Nov. 9. The meeting focused on the many benefits of being part of Basin Electric’s cooperative family.

“Courage. Commitment. Cooperation.” was chosen as the cooperative’s 61st annual meeting theme to highlight what it took to form Basin Electric’s cooperative family, and what it takes today to continue to move forward, evolve, and grow.

Basin Electric’s focus is providing reliable, affordable, and responsible energy for its members. The presentations reviewed Basin Electric’s current operations, financial strength, and continued commitment to its members.

Basin Electric Board President Wayne Peltier, representing District 9 and Minnesota Valley Cooperative Light and Power, Montevideo, Minn., talked about returning value to cooperative members. “As your board of directors, we are dedicated to returning value to our past, present, and future members because that is what co-ops do,” Peltier said. “In total since November of last year, Basin Electric has returned over $263 million of value to our members in the form of patronage retirements, bill credits, and rate reductions. We hope these actions not only demonstrate that commitment but also help you strategically plan for the opportunities and challenges you face in serving the members at the end of the line now and for many years to come.”

Basin Electric General Manager and CEO Todd Telesz said the cooperative’s key strengths of geographic diversity, operational scale, and financial strength have enabled the cooperative family to drive economic prosperity for rural America. He gave three distinct examples of how electric cooperatives have supported major growth: the Powder River Basin, ethanol industry growth, and the Bakken oil region boom. “As we look to the future, we have major member growth expectations to meet. Our construction cycle over the next five to ten years will rival what we built over the past 15 years. Many talk about the concept of energy independence, but few can lay claim to delivering on it the way Basin Electric and our membership has, and will continue to do,” Telesz said. “Basin Electric’s assets are the engines of commerce for a service territory that feeds and fuels a nation. Our all-of-the-above energy strategy helps to deliver on our membership’s top two goals — reliable and affordable electricity, produced in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

Highlights:

  • Basin Electric staff provided reports regarding operations, marketing, financials, and government relations. They addressed Basin Electric’s operational excellence while finding cost savings at facilities, record production at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, and optimization of power markets. The panel discussions also included Q&A sessions with the members.
  • The keynote speaker was Willis Sparks. Sparks, director of Global Macro at Eurasia Group, is a leader on topics such as risk, opportunity, and trends created by geopolitical conflicts and developments in both emerging market countries and the U.S.
    • Sparks focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and how it is impacting global politics, energy markets, and commodities. He also talked about China’s policy on COVID, which is hampering their economic development and affecting commodity prices.
    • Sparks also spoke about the political climate in the United States. “It is the innovator, the entrepreneur, the private sector, the people who make sure the lights are on when you flip the switch — they are the engines of progress and prosperity in this country,” Sparks said. “People create progress, not necessarily the government.”
  • Special guest speaker, Rusty Braziel, is the founder and executive chairman of RBN Energy, and is known for his expertise in the field of marketing, trading, and purchasing of energy commodities, along with his ability to bring clarity to the constant influx of information coming from energy markets.
  • U.S. Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) spoke in support of the energy industry. Topics such as the 45Q tax credit for carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration and Basin Electric’s efforts in carbon capture and sequestration were discussed by the senators.
  • North Dakota Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford provided a welcome to meeting attendees and discussed the state’s continued support of the energy industry and appreciation for the efforts of Basin Electric and its membership.
  • The event featured business and cooperative booths including:
    • Wyoming CarbonSAFE, a research project located near Dry Fork Station, Basin Electric’s coal-based power plant near Gillette, Wyoming, focused on storage of carbon dioxide near the plant.
    • Energy & Environmental Research Center discussed its research focused on carbon capture, usage, and sequestration as part of its mission to provide practical, pioneering solutions to the world’s energy and environmental challenges.
    • Terex Industries displayed their all-electric bucket truck.
    • Sioux Valley Energy displayed electric-powered lawn tools and other technologies from its beneficial electrification program.
More information including reports, video, and social media feeds can be found at basinelectric.com or through #Basin2022.

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