CEO Talk: Our cooperative story stands strong

Paul Sukut

Many of us were brought up in a culture that keeps us humble. From our roots, back to the farmers who joined together to form electric cooperatives, to today’s hard-working employees who operate our power plants and keep our systems secure and reliable, we have people and ideas that deserve attention and praise.

We do our jobs, strive for excellence, and hope the results speak for us.

We don’t tell our story like we should – loud and proud, with all the color and dimension that comes with the conversations behind the decisions we make and steps we take.

The Basin Electric story is one of innovation, resilience, teamwork, and cooperation. We, along with our cooperative members across nine states, follow a set of seven strong cooperative principles. These principles are simple, but that does not mean they are easy in practice.

The principle of democratic member control gives people a voice, and therefore power. To have a say in how your electricity is generated and what your power supplier does with its revenue is a privilege not enjoyed by most people in our nation. But cooperative members serve on the boards of their local electric cooperatives and help make decisions that shape the future of their area’s energy service. That’s an important responsibility for those who wish to hoist it on their shoulders.

Nearly 60 years ago, the farmers and ranchers who were cooperative leaders chose to use abundant, local lignite coal as the fuel for their first power plant. The Leland Olds Station, Basin Electric’s first power plant, located near Stanton, North Dakota, was the largest lignite coal-based power plant in the Western Hemisphere when it became operational. What a tremendous feat of engineering and tenacity!

Read more from CEO and General Manager Paul Sukut in the Fall-Winter 2019 issue of Basin Today in his column CEO Talk at

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