Safety and Community Service awards presented at Lignite Energy Council’s Fall Conference

Two lignite mines and one power plant received safety awards, 12 individuals were honored for their contributions to the lignite industry and four companies were recognized by the North Dakota Public Service Commission during the Lignite Energy Council’s award luncheon held at the Bismarck Event Center on October 3.

2017 Safety Awards were presented to Falkirk Mining Company, the Lewis & Clark Station and Coteau Properties Company. L-R: LEC Chair Wade Boeshans, Rick Hollar and Dianne Fettig from Falkirk, Cory Zentner from L&C Station, Erica Kaylee and Ryan Holder from Coteau and LEC President Jason Bohrer.

Employees of the Coteau Properties’ Freedom Mine and Montana-Dakota Utilities’ Lewis & Clark Station were recognized with Distinguished Safety Awards for having accident rates below the industry average. The Freedom Mine is the largest lignite mine in the United States and operates north of Beulah and Hazen, North Dakota. The Lewis & Clark Station is at Sidney, Montana.

Employees at the Falkirk Mining Company’s Falkirk Mine received special recognition for achieving the lowest overall accident incident rate in the lignite industry in 2017. They received a traveling trophy known as “Lignite Louie” for winning the Safety Excellence Award. The Falkirk Mine is near Underwood, North Dakota.

“The lignite users and producers in this region believe that the efficient production of a low-cost, reliable energy source cannot be achieved without serious attention to the health and safety of the employees who work to produce that product,” said Jason Bohrer, president & CEO of the Lignite Energy Council. “That’s why we recognize those companies that are leading the way in the field of safety.”

Maverick Thompson, center, is the Coyote Station’s principal engineer.

Otter Tail Power Company’s Maverick Thompson, principal engineer at the Coyote Station at Beulah, North Dakota, received the Community Service Award for his work with the Energy Wellness Center. The state-of-the-art, $6.5 million Wellness Center opened earlier this year in Beulah and has more than 500 members. Thompson served on the foundation and building committees and worked with engineering and construction firms in building the new facility.

Tyler Schafer, center, won the Contractor/Supplier of the Year Award. He is president of Environmental Services, LTD.

Tyler Schafer, president and general manager of Environmental Services, LTD, won the Lignite Energy Council’s 2018 Contractor/Supplier Member of the Year Award. He was nominated by employees at the Coyote Station in Beulah, North Dakota, who noted Schafer’s dedication to both the industry and his customers at the mines and plants. Schafer’s company is in Mandan, North Dakota.

10 individuals were recognized for their contributions to the lignite industry over the span of their careers. They were honored with the Ambassador of Lignite Award for their achievements and support of the lignite industry. The winners included:

  • Charlie Bullinger, Great River Energy;
  • Shirley Campbell, North Dakota Industrial Commission;
  • Jeff Keller, Basin Electric Power Cooperative;
  • Brad Klipfel, Otter Tail Power Company;
  • Cris Miller, Basin Electric Power Cooperative;
  • Duane Miller, Basin Electric Power Cooperative;
  • Curt Pearson, Basin Electric Power Cooperative;
  • Michael Riedman, Basin Electric Power Cooperative;
  • Mike Risan, Basin Electric Power Cooperative; and
  • Ray Sorge, Coteau Properties Company.

Randy Christmann with the ND Public Service Commission honored four active lignite mines for their work on a reclamation research project. L-R: Greg Petrick, BNI Coal, Jessica Unruh, Coyote Creek, Christmann, Jeremy Eckroth, Falkirk, and Terence Schmidt, Coteau.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission also recognized four active North Dakota lignite mines for their work on a five-year study to reduce soil compaction during the mine reclamation process. The four mines are the Freedom Mine, the Falkirk Mine, the Coyote Creek Mine and BNI Coal’s Center Mine. The other three mines are owned by the North American Coal Corporation. The study is currently in its second year.