How We Serve: Chief Operating Officer

Gavin McCollam, Basin Electric senior vice president and chief operating officer.

Employees at Basin Electric understand their role 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.

Gavin McCollam has been part of the cooperative family for nearly 32 years, and in December 2022, was named chief operating officer (COO). Over his career, he has worked in various leadership roles beginning with mechanical engineering supervisor at Dakota Gas and as vice president of Engineering and Construction at Basin Electric. His work in the engineering field has allowed him to work closely with teams in Operations, Transmission, Environmental, and Marketing, all of which are now rolled into a department operating under the COO. McCollam previously served on the Bismarck State College Alumni Association and is currently a member of the North Dakota State University College of Engineering Advisory and Advancement board. He’s also on the board of directors for the Sleepy Hollow Summer Theatre and Arts Park in Bismarck, North Dakota.

McCollam 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 consumer-owners.

“Our department encompasses a wide variety of Basin Electric team members who operate and maintain our consumer-owner’s generation and transmission assets, and also includes major functions of marketing, engineering, and environmental,” McCollam says. “As I’ve grown in my career, I’ve recognized the value of cross-functional working relationships, where the needs of a particular group or division and their relationship to my field of specialty becomes apparent.”

The team brings value to the membership by ensuring generating units are available to generate electricity when needed, and transmission systems are reliable and stable to transmit energy to consumer-owners. “Economic and reliable energy is the key to our success in our service to the membership, and our team works hard every day to make sure the units are available to the greatest extent possible, and that we are working efficiently and prudently to keep our member’s costs low,” McCollam says.

Aside from those fundamentals, the Marketing team works closely with the Operations team to schedule outages, market surplus sales, and work with trading partners to get the best value during plant outages. The Engineering team constantly looks for opportunities to increase plant efficiencies and is responsible for managing Basin Electric’s capital budgets for major capital expense projects such as new generation and transmission projects, and general plant betterment opportunities. For both the operating units and new capital projects, the Environmental team ensures Basin Electric remains in compliance with the ever-changing world of environmental regulations. “By maintaining close relationships and communication between the divisions, we can optimize our resources to allow for safe, economical, and reliable electricity for our membership.”

Reminiscing on years past, McCollam says, “I remember being in engineering college all those years ago, imagining that I’d spend my career furiously clicking away on my HP-41CV calculator, solving the world’s problems one calculation at a time. The reality of it has been that Basin Electric has shown me the value of working together, of clear communication, teamwork, and trust, where we rely on each other to solve the problems we face.”

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