Minnkota holds 79th annual meeting

Minnkota Power and Square Butte Cooperatives gather to reflect on a successful 2018 and discuss the challenges of the future.

Minnkota Power Cooperative and Square Butte Electric Cooperative celebrated successful years at their annual meetings on April 5 at the Minnkota Power corporate campus in Grand Forks.

While Minnkota hosted its 79th annual meeting, Square Butte hosted its 45th annual meeting.

Leadership reported on operations and presented year-end results to more than 200 members and guests, who also heard from ACES on energy markets and battery storage. ACES provides energy marketing and management expertise to electric utilities across the country. Other business included the election of directors and adoption of policy resolutions on issues of importance to Minnkota and Square Butte.

Minnkota chairman Collin Jensen (Roseau, Minn.) and Square Butte president Mark Habedank (Twin Valley, Minn.) presided.

Member delegates from around the region came together at Minnkota corporate headquarters for the annual meetings of Minnkota and Square Butte. The theme of the meetings was Powered by Innovation - a nod to the future-focused projects developed in 2018. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)

Jensen recalled a conversation at one of the first board planning sessions under Minnkota president & CEO Mac McLennan that he believes holds true today. Jensen said former Minnkota vice president Luther Kvernen had this to say about any doom and gloom surrounding the industry: “One of the things we have to remember is we can't be so focused on the challenges that we miss the opportunities."

This sentiment is why Minnkota is looking at a number of innovative technological advances, including using drones for line inspections and continuing development of Project Tundra. The carbon capture system, still in its research and feasibility phases, would remove up to 95% of the carbon dioxide from the Young 2 generation unit at Minnkota's Milton R. Young Station near Center, N.D.

“That's a really exciting project," Jensen said. “I'm looking forward to seeing how that ends up."

Jensen also talked about the positive safety record of Minnkota employees in both Grand Forks and Center.

Habedank praised safety efforts at the Young Station, which had one of its safest years in cooperative history with no lost-time incidents or injuries. Square Butte is owned by the cooperatives associated with Minnkota and sells electricity to Minnkota and Minnesota Power.

“As a cooperative, one of the pillars of our core beliefs is safety," he said. “We want our line people to come home at the end of the day to their families."

Square Butte president Mark Habedank recognized that it was a "true team effort" to keep the cooperative safe and efficient. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)

Habedank also talked about Project Tundra and the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule. While the proposed rule looks more beneficial to cooperatives, Habedank said changes will be needed to comply with future regulations.

“We are still committed to finding ways to operate our plants in what most of us would agree is going to be a carbon-constrained world," he said.

Habedank's term on the Square Butte board ended with the meeting. He was elected to become the Wild Rice director on the Minnkota board. Wild Rice director Larry Sollie has been elected to replace Habedank on the Square Butte board.

In its reorganization meeting, Square Butte elected Marcy Svenningsen of Cass County Electric Cooperative as its new president, replacing Habedank. Paul Sigurdson of Nodak Electric Cooperative remains the vice president, Roger Amundson of Roseau Electric Cooperative remains secretary-treasurer and Paul Aakre of PKM Electric Cooperative was elected assistant secretary-treasurer.

On the Minnkota side, Jensen was re-elected chairman. Les Windjue of Nodak Electric Cooperative was elected vice chair, replacing retiring Russ Okeson. Colette Kujava of Red Lake Electric Cooperative was re-elected secretary-treasurer.

Minnkota president and CEO Mac McLennan laid out the cooperative's plan to capture opportunities and overcome uncertainties throughout the next year. (Kevin Jeffrey/Minnkota)

McLennan drew the meeting to a close, noting Minnkota is in stable financial position and is preparing to meet the needs of a changing utility industry. He added that Minnkota is well-prepared to adapt to change, and technology advancements may be a key to defining the company's future.

“The world is changing rapidly," he said. "I don't want to lose the history that we have, and I don't want to ever suggest that history is not a good guide, but history is not going to define what we do in the future."


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