Basin Electric CEO and general manager visits wind, natural gas, and subsidiary facilities

Terry Ackerman, Basin Electric Distributed Generation superintendent of Operations in South Dakota; Todd Telesz, Basin Electric CEO and general manager; and Jim Gerlach, Deer Creek maintenance supervisor, at Deer Creek Station near Brookings, South Dakota.

Basin Electric CEO and general manager, Todd Telesz, visited three Basin Electric facilities this summer in Distributed Generation and two locations in Montana and Wyoming related to subsidiary operations.

Telesz traveled to Deer Creek Station near Brookings, South Dakota, Pioneer Generation Station near Williston, North Dakota, and PrairieWinds 1 near Minot, North Dakota.

He was accompanied by Valerie Weigel, Basin Electric vice president of Asset Management and Commodity Strategy; Troy Tweeten, Basin Electric senior vice president of Operations; Joe Fiedler, Basin Electric manager of Distributed Generation; and Chris Baumgartner, Basin Electric senior vice president of Member and External Relations during his visits to Deer Creek Station and Pioneer Generation Station.

At each facility, the group held an employee meeting and toured the site. The meetings consisted of discussions over the future of the organization, marketing, finance, an overview of Dakota Gasification Company, membership, safety, operations, and risk.

“Over the next five years, the goal is for each facility to refer to our cooperative as a ‘team,’ not ‘us versus them,’” says Telesz.

When the team visited Deer Creek Station on June 10, they answered specific employee questions about transmission, opportunities, and the future. When visiting Pioneer Generation Station on July 7, employees asked questions about inflation impact, health premiums, reliability, and regulation.

Telesz visiting Pioneer Generation Station near Williston, North Dakota.

“The inflationary environment that we face today is unlike any we have experienced in the past 40 years,” says Telesz. “We need to live up to our responsibility to provide affordable electricity by remaining focused on expense discipline.”   

Telesz visited PrairieWinds 1 on Aug. 2 and was accompanied by Tweeten and Fiedler. The majority of the group discussion revolved around repowering existing wind turbines. Wind turbine repowering involves replacing older units with new, higher capacity turbines or retrofitting them with more efficient software or components. Patrick Hurt, PrairieWinds 1 supervisor of operations and maintenance, gave a tour of the administration building, with stops at the shop, warehouse, and SCADA system, which is used to remotely monitor each of the 80 wind turbines in the park. Through this system, the technicians can monitor power output, alarms, and up-tower equipment conditions such as gearbox vibrations and oil temperatures.

On Aug. 16, Telesz, along with Tweeten and Basin Electric director and Dakota Coal Company and Montana Limestone Company board chairman, Troy Presser, traveled to Montana Limestone Company, a subsidiary of Dakota Coal, south of Billings, Montana. They visited the quarry and the fine grind plant where they saw a new robotic arm in motion. They also visited Wyoming Lime Producers’ Frannie Lime Plant near Frannie, Wyoming. The group concluded with an employee discussion on the overall future of Basin Electric and how it is related to their work in limestone and lime operations.

With these visits, Telesz achieved his goal of getting to all operations facilities by his one year anniversary as CEO on Sept. 1. He plans to have a set schedule to visit facilities each year moving forward.

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