Basin tours the Bakken


Becky Kern, Todd Telesz, and Upper Missouri Power Cooperative General Manager Jeremy Mahowald. The horse head they are standing under is the largest one in the United States. 

Basin Electric CEO and General Manager Todd Telesz and Vice President of Resource Planning and Rates Becky Kern toured one of the fastest-growing regions in the cooperative’s service area on March 24-25. Telesz and Kern visited key sites in the Bakken oil field in western North Dakota and had meaningful discussions with member managers and end-use consumers to learn firsthand about the challenges they are facing and the potential for large-scale growth in the area.

“There is significant value in having conversations about what is going on within our member systems to better understand where things are at currently and what may happen in the future,” Kern says.

The tours began with a visit to Upper Missouri Power Cooperative, a Basin Electric Class A member headquartered in Sidney, Montana, where they met with General Manager Jeremy Mahowald, staff, and board members. “It was a good opportunity for Basin Electric and Upper Missouri to hear and see the needs of our membership firsthand and learn of the major growth initiatives planned in the Upper Missouri region,” Mahowald says.

Telesz and Kern also toured Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Cooperative, a Basin Electric C member headquartered in Sidney, Montana, and met with its CEO Jason Brothen. They visited sites in the cooperative’s service area including Kraken Oil and Gas, one of the cooperative’s largest members.

Left to right: Todd, Telesz, Becky Kern, Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric CEO Jason Brothen, and Nick Frank of Kraken Oil and Gas. 

Brothen says the cooperative appreciated the time Telesz and Kern spent with its members to discuss numerous topics such as resource planning, rates, and ideas for the future. “I felt the one-on-one conversation they had with our members gave them a better understanding of what our members needs are and how they can implement strategies to help meet those needs. I look forward to working with Basin Electric to solve the challenges we have in front of us,” Brothen says.

At Basin Electric Class C member Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative, which is headquartered in Williston, North Dakota, they toured the system’s facilities, including back-up generators for the Williston Campus. “Basin Electric takes the success of their members personally,” says Mountrail-Williams General Manager Dale Haugen. “This tour was a boots-on-the-ground approach to learning what is happening out here in western North Dakota. Seeing the area firsthand and discussing the issues we’re facing helps everyone involved plan solutions that solve problems.

Becky Kern, Mountrail-Williams Electric General Manager Dale Haugen, and Todd Telesz take a look at one of the cooperative's back-up generators.

McKenzie Electric Cooperative CEO Matt Hanson says he appreciated that Telesz and Kern visited the cooperative. “It gave us the opportunity to show our territory and talk about our membership,” he says. “It was great to talk through some of the hurdles facing the utility industry and our cooperative.” McKenzie Electric is a Basin Electric Class C member headquartered in Watford City, North Dakota.  

McKenzie Electric Engineering Manager Karl Aaker, left, gives a tour of the cooperative's service area. Aaker is pictured with Todd Telesz and McKenzie Electric CEO Matt Hanson, right. 

“Seeing the Bakken oil play was important to me, especially now that the area has become a magnet for cryptocurrency and data mining operations on the lookout for the reliable and affordable power we deliver,” Telesz says. “Our ability to serve an extremely diverse membership cost-effectively is a compliment to the entire Basin Electric family.”

Since becoming CEO in September 2021, Telesz has spent considerable time on the road visiting Basin Electric members, sites, and employees across its nine-state service area. 

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