I want to start this morning by saying it is a strange feeling to talk to all of you this way. Usually we have already spent some time together, shaking hands, laughing, leaning in to listen to one another. But this year, I am sitting in one place, and the rest of you are spread out across our entire nine-state service area.
Take a minute to look around. Some of you are at home, in your office. Some of you are sitting in your co-op conference room, with a few of your fellow directors or members. I hear some of you even rented out a space in town so that more of you could get together and socially distance.
I’m proud of how dedicated you are to your co-op, Basin Electric. Co-op people are the best people, and being willing to join us from thousands of miles away for your Annual Meeting proves it.
Our board of directors has been meeting virtually pretty much every month since April. I want to thank my fellow directors for doing the best we can in these circumstances. I believe it is very important for people to be in the same room as they are making big decisions, and it hasn’t been easy. You all know you can sense people’s energy when you are with them, and we are missing that.
We did meet once in person, in September in South Dakota. Along with our regular monthly meeting, we held a few special meetings that week. A strategic planning session, for just the Basin Electric board and staff, a roundtable discussion with the District Class A managers, followed by the staff holding a member managers meeting for all Class A and Class C managers.
We will keep looking for new and better ways to listen and communicate with our members because that is the best way to lead a co-op.
As a board, we talk a lot about listening to our membership. I was telling you about our meetings in September.
I know that the managers who were involved were listening deeply. We heard important feedback during those meetings. Some even told us that they have come to realize the Basin board and staff are working harder on due diligence than they ever realized.
We realize critical decisions need to be made over the next couple years that will impact Basin Electric for the next 15-20 years.
I believe the way we govern ourselves through democratic member control is important to these discussions. You are the owners of this cooperative, and you will be called upon to help make these decisions.
During our Members-Only Meetings, we talk through what needs to be done in the coming year and why. We also look back at what has been accomplished. There are things our members have asked for, and our board and staff has met those challenges.
Many of you have been interviewed as part of our Cooperative Awareness Campaign. Thank you for taking the time to provide the input we need. We learned, resoundingly, that reliability and rates are the two most pressing issues you consider when you think about Basin Electric.
Speaking of reliability, I mentioned our employees earlier. I want to thank them sincerely for getting us through the extreme challenges of this year. In the power plants and Synfuels Plant, employees work day and night to keep those units operating. As COVID has affected us, it affects a staff of shift workers even more. When just one person on a shift tests positive, the entire crew must quarantine and another crew must fill in. I am so impressed by all our employees for working through this time and keep electricity reliable for our members the entire time.
I also want to thank the employees who make our cooperative run well. The medical staff has been outstanding with COVID testing, and working through this pandemic. The IS&T staff who is helping everyone working from home. The marketing staff who buy and sell power. Dispatchers who take outage calls and keep watch on our assets. The list goes on, and I don’t want to miss anybody or leave anybody out. You are all valuable to Basin Electric - you are the backbone of our cooperative, and I want you to know you are appreciated.
Every decision we make as a board at Basin, we are thinking about our members and what matters most. Our employees also think of the membership as they work hard to operate and protect our assets.
Listen and lead means discussion and communication are important -- whether we are meeting in person or on our computer screens. We will lead your cooperative into the future well as long as we all keep lines of communication open.
Thank you for being flexible. I hope I will see you in person again soon.