Meet your director … Leo Brekel District 5, Tri-State G&T Association By Tracie Bettenhausen A new director joined the Basin Electric board in July. Leo Brekel of District 5, Tri-State G&T Association, headquartered in Denver, CO. Brekel is part of the 11-member board that directs the business and affairs of Basin Electric. Each director is elected to a three-year term representing one of 11 membership districts. Brekel is a long-time director for Highline Electric Association, headquartered in Holyoke, CO, with branch offices in Sterling, CO, and Ovid, CO. He has served on that board since 1995. In 2003, he was elected to represent his cooperative on Tri-State’s board. In July 2014, he was elected to replace Marshall Collins on Basin Electric’s board. He served on the Trapper Mining board from July 2009 until July 2014. Trapper Mining in Craig, CO, is a surface coal mine that produces nearly 2 million tons of coal per year. The mine is operated by Tri-State G&T. He has a wheat farm south of Fleming, CO, and is retired from his position as physical plant director at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling. When you’re not wearing your REC hat, what are you doing? We have a small farm south of Fleming. In between, my son-in-law and his father operate two feed yards up by Holdrege, NE, so I do some of their feed yard work. It gives me the opportunity to see my grandchildren as well. I started a coin collection. My favorite coin is the Morgan Silver Dollar. I just like the looks of it and the history of it. I have quite a few silver dollars and I have a Mercury Dime for every year they were made. Coming on as a director at Basin Electric, what was the most surprising thing you learned? There’s really nothing that was a horrible surprise. I think the staff is very thorough; I enjoy the detail of what they presented. You’re always a bit apprehensive coming to your first meeting but everyone has been so good to me. You could call them “down home country folks” like I am. I just appreciated the welcome; everybody just made me feel at home. What inspired you to want to serve RECs? I was born and raised on a farm and my parents just thought the world of Highline Electric Association; I don’t think they ever missed a meeting. That was true for the local co-op elevator as well, so co-ops were just part of my growing up. I think the cooperative model is just a superb model to be governed by, and I wanted to be a part of that and maybe help my neighbor in the process. You get a vote. We operate non-profit, so you share in any margins. You can call your local director and complain about something if you need to. It’s nice the co-op jumps in and does things in the community, especially when something nasty happens. I remember in 2001 we had a real nasty blizzard and co-ops sent crews all around to help rebuild the system. People helping people is just a good way of life. 10 Basin Today What role do you see Basin Electric playing in rural America in the next 20 years? I still see Basin supplying the power they supply now plus a lot more. I think it’s important that we keep the rural co-ops and our G&Ts simply because even to this day, the IOUs (investor owned utilities) were very selective about what they would serve, and I think somebody needs to fill that gap. What is your philosophy for serving on a co-op board? I have a bit of a philosophy. First of all, I want to find out as much as I can about the issues and then decide: is it good for the cooperative and is it good for the end use consumer? And that’s the way I prefer to vote.
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