Jody Sundsted, retired Senior Vice President and Upper Great Plains Manager for the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), was presented with East River Electric Power Cooperative’s highest honor, the Eminent Service Award, during the organization’s 71st annual meeting Sept. 8, 2021, in Sioux Falls. The award is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to East River and the cooperative movement.
“East River Electric and its member systems honor your years of service to the federal hydropower system and your work to provide consumers with safe, reliable and affordable electric power,” said East River Electric General Manager Tom Boyko. “Your leadership throughout your career has helped advance the mission of WAPA and its customers like East River which provide a valuable service that powers the lives of people throughout our region.”
As WAPA’s Upper Great Plains Regional Manager, Sundsted led more than 340 employees across Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota in serving customers with cost-based federal hydropower. Before taking on the regional manager mantle, Sundsted served as the vice president of Upper Great Plains Power Marketing. Sundsted began his federal career in 1985 as a general engineer with WAPA. During his career, he served in the Power Marketing office as a public utilities specialist in the Contracts and Rates divisions and as the Upper Great Plain’s financial manager before his leadership role in power marketing.
Sundsted holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial and management engineering from Montana State University.
Paul Sukut, who served as Chief Executive Officer for Basin Electric Power Cooperative for the past 7 years, was presented with East River Electric Power Cooperative’s highest honor, the Eminent Service Award, during the organization’s 71st annual meeting Sept. 8, 2021, in Sioux Falls. The award is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to East River and the cooperative movement.
Sukut dedicated his career to rural America and the region’s cooperative movement. His decades of work helped to strengthen electric cooperatives and public power to improve the lives of people across rural America.
“On behalf of East River and our member systems, thank you for your 42 years of service to the electric power industry and 38 years of service to Basin Electric Power Cooperative and its members,” said East River Electric General Manager Tom Boyko. “The leadership you have provided throughout your career has helped to ensure consumers across the region received safe, reliable and affordable electric power.”
Sukut has worked for Basin Electric since 1983 and has announced that he will be retiring in the near future. Prior to being named Basin Electric’s CEO and general manager in 2014, Sukut served as the organization’s executive vice president and CFO.
Sukut has a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration and political science from Jamestown College in North Dakota, and a master’s degree in accounting and tax from the University of North Dakota. He is a North Dakota registered Certified Public Accountant and a Chartered Global Management Accountant.
East River Electric Power Cooperative held its 71st annual meeting Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, at the Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls. The theme of this year’s annual meeting was ‘Cooperatives: The Power of Working Together’. The meeting highlighted the many ways that East River is working alongside its member systems on making crucial decisions that will position the cooperative network for continued success in providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity.
During the morning general session, speakers discussed how extreme cold temperatures in mid-February 2021 led to historic levels of energy demand on the U.S. power grid, resulting in widespread rolling power outages throughout much of the central portion of the country.
“The February energy emergency highlighted the importance of being connected to a cooperative family to share risk and avoid fluctuations in the energy market,” said East River Electric General Manager Tom Boyko. “Unlike consumers in Texas who were stuck with utility bills exceeding $10,000 dollars in some cases following the emergency event, East River’s members paid the same rate during and after the energy emergency as they paid before because we have long term resources to serve our load. That’s the power of being connected to a cooperative power supply.”
The cooperative’s leaders also provided an update on East River’s aggressive Transmission System Upgrade Plan. The plan is designed to accelerate additions and replacements to the cooperative’s transmission infrastructure to improve system reliability and provide for growth.
“East River is currently in the third year of our Transmission System Upgrade Plan. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, our teams made significant progress on the upgrade plan over this past year,” said Boyko. “We completed several key projects that are designed to strengthen our system’s backbone. As always, this critical work was completed with a primary focus on ensuring the safety of our workforce.”
During the annual meeting’s lunch, East River’s leadership presented the cooperative’s Eminent Service Award to retired Western Area Power Administration Senior Vice President and Upper Great Plains Manager Jody Sundsted as well as to Basin Electric Power Cooperative CEO Paul Sukut. The Eminent Service Award is the most prestigious honor given by East River’s Board of Directors.
The afternoon session began with an update from Basin Electric Power Cooperative. A business meeting followed the annual meeting’s general session where the director election was held, and the cooperative’s policy statements were adopted.