John Moura

The electric industry is in a state of transition. In the mid-2000s, a shift away from fossil-fuel generation toward renewables began taking shape. The green energy conversation has dominated the industry for several decades. Consumers have more interest in where and how their power is produced. Policy, regulation and private investment capital continue to step on the accelerator toward a lower carbon future.

But, another critical conversation has emerged in recent years – it’s message ringing louder and louder as extreme weather events test the nation’s electric grid.

Terry Knutson, Kyle Helmers, Joe Thomas and Jason Bruner have been the faces of  Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative's Kenmare line crew.

Lineworkers are superheroes who fight to keep power flowing no matter how tough the conditions. When severe weather rolls in or the lights go out, they mobilize. And their jobs are unlike any other – they chase storms, climb poles and work on high-voltage power lines.

Working in this dangerous profession requires constant safety training, so crews are prepared to respond in the event of an emergency. And while this training is intended for on-the-job emergencies, cooperative lineworkers are dedicated and ready to assist when members are in need.

down pole

Whoever said “rain is a good thing” wasn’t referencing late December rain in North Dakota. Christmas Day rain blanketed southeastern North Dakota in a sheet of ice, which caused major damage to the electric system and left some North Dakotans without power for 11 days.

Electric cooperatives described it as “the worst ice storm since 1997.” Dakota Valley and Cass County electric cooperatives were hit hardest by the storm, while KEM, Mor-Gran-Sou, Nodak and Northern Plains electric cooperative members also experienced outages.

power lines

“Beat the peak” has become a unified message among electric cooperatives as the demand for electricity grows. This message encourages everyone to be mindful of their energy use during “peak demand” periods, or the times of the day when people are using the most electricity. Why is it so important? It can save you money, reduce your electric cooperative’s power cost (the largest expense your co-op has) and contribute to a better electric grid.

An interconnected grid

Jamie Zins

Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s a public awareness campaign every ‘90s kids will remember. But for Jamie Zins, it’s more than a slogan: It’s a way of life.

His resourceful nature is on full display in McKenzie, where he’s given new life to the former school building. Years ago, 207 A Street is where Jamie Zins learned his ABCs and 123s. Today, the former schoolhouse is the home of his business, Jamie Zins Woodworking.

Marshal Albright

A product of Cass County – Marshal Albright is a homegrown product of Cass County, hailing from Lynchburg, about 30 miles southwest of Fargo. He started his career with his “hometown” electric co-op in 1986, when he was hired as a load management technician. In the late 1980s, electric heat was the go-to system, and Marshal programmed ripple controls (an inspection and maintenance program for load control receivers) and installed new meters for residential off-peak heating systems.

Dale Haugen

The electric cooperative workforce is in a state of transition. Many longtime co-op employees have reached or are nearing retirement. Over the next five years, it is estimated more than 15,000 people will be hired at more than 900 electric cooperatives in 47 states.

In North Dakota alone, nearly 2,500 full-time electric cooperative jobs exist. And, there are more than 30 types of career opportunities at electric cooperatives. As new employees come in the door, a well of knowledge and experience exits.

Randy Hauck

From Richardton to Velva – Originally from Richardton, Randy Hauck has called Velva home for 39 years. Verendrye Electric Cooperative (VEC) hired him as member services assistant upon graduating from North Dakota State University in 1984 with a degree in agriculture mechanization.