Job No. 1

At the center of every job, project and task at Great River Energy is a commitment to keeping people safe

This year has dramatically changed how Great River Energy conducts business. Some employees are working remotely, while others have incorporated social distancing and masks into their daily routines. They take these measures seriously because they have an important job to provide an essential service to member-owners.

But one thing that remains the same regardless of where or how people are working: Great River Energy has an uncompromising commitment to keeping people safe.

Jayme Diffely, leader of plant operations, and Breanna Lemer, auxiliary operator, communicate while following safety protocols put in place at Great River Energy’s Coal Creek Station power plant in North Dakota.

“At every company meeting, I tell our team there is nothing we will ask them to do that cannot be done safely – and we mean that at Great River Energy,” said Great River Energy President and Chief Executive Officer David Saggau. “Safety is far more important than any budget or schedule. It is truly the first and most important job.”

Great River Energy is committed to maintaining a reliable electric system and keeping the employees who operate and maintain that system safe. Safety is even among the metrics of company performance, which means it is central to Great River Energy’s success.

Safety during the pandemic

The cooperative has taken added measures during the pandemic to ensure it protects the health and well-being of its employees and helps stop the spread of COVID-19.

Approximately half of the cooperative’s employees are working remotely, and safety protocols are in place at all of its facilities. No visitors are allowed, and employees are reminded regularly to social distance and wear masks in their personal and professional lives.

Darin Orbeck, transmission construction and maintenance project representative, discusses foundation work on a transmission line rebuild project with crews from a drilling contractor.

Prior to the pandemic, Great River Energy began work on a three-year plan around safety. The plan was developed by the Enterprise Safety Council, which brings together people from around the organization who have varying responsibilities for safety. Together, this team has provided leadership, established a vision for the company’s safety culture and developed short- and long-term strategies to achieve that vision. Even while COVID-19 has changed the way Great River Energy operates, this council was able to continue with these critical efforts.

Safety is everyone’s job

Job descriptions provide a bedrock of expectations for every position at Great River Energy. Now, every employee and every leader’s job description includes a safety responsibility, regardless of their role.

“It’s all of our responsibility to create a safe workplace,” said Cindy Schue, manager of talent and strategy. “A job description not only describes a realistic view of work responsibilities, it sets expectations. And, since safety is one of Great River Energy’s values, it’s an expectation for all of us as employees to be committed to a culture of safety.”

Even hired contractors must uphold Great River Energy’s exacting safety standards. Revised work rules set expectations of contractors while they are on the worksite.

A cross-company team spent six months streamlining the contractor work rules to ensure consistent requirements for any individual contractor or project.

“Having one document helps Great River Energy provide clear, consistent direction to all of our contractors,” said Dustin Privette, safety administrator.

The way Great River Energy has practiced safety has changed this year. There are more masks and social distance placards, but putting safety first is the way Great River Energy does business.