ND lignite industry presents awards

About a dozen individuals were honored for their contributions to the lignite industry during the Lignite Energy Council’s virtual fall conference held on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

John Weeda, a retiree of Great River Energy, was honored with the distinguished service award for education. Weeda was a presenter for many years at the annual teachers’ seminar, where he talked about generation at the Coal Creek Station.

Seven individuals were honored with the Ambassador of Lignite Award for their achievements and support of the lignite industry over the course of their careers. The winners were Kevin Thomas, Minnkota Power Cooperative; Mary Jo Roth, Great River Energy; Alan Welte, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.; Dave Sauer, Dakota Gasification Company; John Jacobs, Basin Electric Power Cooperative; Pat Wingenbach, Butler Machinery; and Jeff Reiser, Dean’s Bulk Service.

State Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, a Minot native, received the Lignite Public Service Award for his work in the Legislature to promote legislation that encourages an “all-of-the-above” balance of generation sources in the state.

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak received the distinguished service award for regulatory programs in recognition of her work in representing the interests of North Dakotans as an adviser to the Midwest Independent System Operator, the regional electric grid.

Kent Ellis, North Dakota Energy Education coordinator, was recognized with the distinguished public relations award for his outstanding work with the NextGen ND program, a joint venture between energy and farming interests to help inform youth in the state about career opportunities in the oil and gas, coal and agriculture industries.

Northern Coatings, Inc., a locally owned industrial painting firm based in Bismarck, won the Lignite Energy Council’s 2020 Contractor/Supplier Member of the Year Award. Northern Coatings was nominated by employees at the Milton R. Young Station.

MDU Resources received the Community Service Award for its sponsorship of the “Teen of the Week” series that highlights local teens and their accomplishments in the Bismarck Tribune.

Gerry Pfau and Dan Laudal of Minnkota Power Cooperative received the distinguished service award for research and development for their leadership roles during the engineering and design stages of Project Tundra, a project at the Young Station to capture and store carbon dioxide underground.

Charlie Gorecki with the Energy & Environmental Research Center also received the distinguished service award for research and development for his leadership with the Plains CO2 Partnership before his promotion to lead the EERC.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission also recognized The Coteau Properties’ Freedom Mine, north of Beulah, for its work to avoid disruption to a significant cultural resource site. The Freedom Mine is the nation’s largest lignite mine and provides fuel to Basin Electric Power Cooperative.


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