To serve electricity to nearly 700,000 members, it takes a lot of people, equipment and a long list of materials, fuels, lubricants and chemicals – just to name a few things. And those items must be handled properly to keep employees and the environment safe.
Great River Energy recently renewed its commitment to ISO 14001 standards by bringing environmental practices in line with more stringent requirements and committing to improving its actual environmental performance. The registration is given by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to organizations with environmental management systems that meet stringent standards.
“We complete extensive reviews of environmental plans and procedures, in addition to training and meticulous record-keeping, so our employees know the best way to handle every material and any operational situation,” said Greg Archer, Great River Energy environmental support services leader. “ISO 14001 registration is a voluntary step we take to hold ourselves to high expectations, to minimize environmental risks and to now more explicitly measure environmental improvements.”
This achievement comes as Great River Energy marks its 20-year anniversary since it first achieved ISO 14001 registration at its Coal Creek Station power plant in central North Dakota. In subsequent years, the cooperative registered its transmission operations and Minnesota generation facilities as meeting ISO 14001 standards.
As part of this recent registration, Great River Energy merged all of its transmission and generation operations under a common environmental management system.
“This merger represents an important process improvement for Great River Energy,” said Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Transmission Officer Priti Patel. “It allows us to better focus our limited resources on actual environmental risks and improvement.”
The single ISO 14001 registration now applies to nearly all company facilities. And the standards are becoming more ingrained into Great River Energy company practices, including its strategic planning process and associated department work plans. Progress toward environmental goals will also be tracked by key company metrics.
“Every decision we make as a company is considered for its effect on electric rates, reliability and the environment,” said Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Generation Officer Rick Lancaster. “By pursuing ever-higher environmental ambitions, we are striving to protect our employees, members and the environment.”
What’s in the new standard?
The latest revision of ISO 14001 standards is designed to help companies align their environmental management systems with the strategic direction set by company leadership. Prior standards effectively confirmed that organizations followed proper procedures and kept appropriate records. The new standard requires companies like Great River Energy to show actual and measurable environmental improvements as a result of their adherence to ISO 14001 standards.