Meet your director: Leo Brekel - Basin Electric Power Cooperative

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.
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.