Approximately 50 employees and directors from Corn Belt Power Cooperative and its member systems attended Orientation Days Jan. 18 or 19 in Humboldt, learning about all aspects of the cooperative's operations.
Ken Kuyper, executive vice president and general manager, reviewed Corn Belt Power's history, detailing the growth of power use in rural areas in the 1930s and 40s, the merger of two smaller generation and transmission cooperatives to create Corn Belt Power, the development of generating sources and addition of members. He explained the cooperative's Class A membership in Basin Electric Power Cooperative and summarized current issues and projects in the Basin Electric system.
Mike Thatcher, vice president, generation, presented information on each of Corn Belt Power's generating units. He reviewed the load management system and presented information on current environmental regulations affecting plant operations. Patrick Connor, plant manager, discussed operation of Wisdom Station, including both Units 1 and 2.
Kevin Bornhoft, vice president, engineering and system operations, reviewed the functions in his department, including engineering, radio and microwave communications, system operations/control center, and right-of-way and construction. System Electrical Superintendent Jerry Moritz discussed current substation projects and Transmission Superintendent Bob Nielsen presented information about ongoing powerline work.
Following a lunch break, Karen Berte, senior vice president, finance and administration, spoke about financial operations and explained how rates are set at the cooperative. Presentations concluded with Kathy Taylor, vice president, corporate relations, giving an overview of public relations programs, government relations efforts and Touchstone Energy brand promotions.
Orientation Days finished with a tour of the control center, where Brian Gibson, chief system operator, explained operating functions, cybersecurity measures and outage notifications that system operators handle.
Taylor explains, "We hold Orientations Days about every other year and invite employees and directors who are new to our system to learn about what Corn Belt Power does and how different departments interact with the role of each attendee. We get good feedback on the value of the information presented and on the opportunity for participants to put a face with a name of Corn Belt Power personnel they may communicate with by email or phone. Good member relations are essential in the cooperative system and this event helps to foster those relationships."