Embracing change and serving the membership

It was 1977 and Dave Raatz was studying engineering at Bismarck (North Dakota) Junior College when he had the opportunity to become a student intern at Basin Electric in the planning and marketing division. It was the start of what would ultimately become a 41-year career, being offered a permanent job with the cooperative after graduating from North Dakota State University in Fargo in 1980 with a degree in electrical engineering.

Growing up in Bismarck, Raatz was aware of cooperatives but didn’t know much about what they were before joining Basin Electric. But one thing that stands out in his mind from his childhood is the groundbreaking at Leland Olds Station (LOS) near Stanton, North Dakota.

“My dad was a civil engineer with the Bureau of Reclamation, and he took me to the LOS groundbreaking (see a video). I remember sitting on the grass watching and realizing that this was a really big deal,” Raatz says.

Fast forward to 2021, Raatz, now senior vice president of Asset Management, Resource Planning, and Rates, has a lot to reflect on as he looks back at his time with Basin Electric. He is one of the few individuals who had the opportunity to work with every general manager at Basin Electric. He was also able to see and influence some major milestones in the cooperative’s history, like diversifying revenue, backfilling with renewables, and joining Southwest Power Pool. But some of Raatz’s favorite work has had to do with negotiating power sale and purchase arrangements, resource planning, and member rate design.

Dave Raatz at his desk at Headquarters in 2005.

Raatz says that out of everything he’s had the opportunity to do, he’s most proud of the relationships he’s developed within the membership.

“Really, our work is about doing whatever we can for the membership and ultimately our member-owners in the nine-state region. I was able to do a lot to serve the membership, and that’s what I enjoyed the most because I saw how important that was to the organization,” he says.

One thing that has helped Raatz have a successful career is his ability to adapt and pivot.

“I’ve never been opposed to change or doing new things,” he says. “Some people say, ‘This is the way we’ve done it for the last five years,’ and I like to ask, ‘How should we do it for the next five years?’ Change is constant, so you should never be afraid of change.”

Read about how Raatz gained confidence in his career, which leaders impacted him, and advice for those early in their career in Dave Raatz retires after 41 years in the winter issue of Basin Today.

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