Dennis Hill, Paul Sukut, Robert “Mac” McLennan and David Saggau, Published February 25 2014
Letter: Statement about Touchstone donation irresponsible, falseWe represent the electric cooperatives that made the $1.3 million contribution to the North Dakota State Historical Society Foundation in 2008 for the purpose of expanding the state’s Heritage Center. We wish to address the absurd suggestion made by Tom Isern, historian-director of the Center for Cultural Heritage Renewal at North Dakota State University.
Isern suggested that the $1.3 million pledge from Touchstone Energy Cooperatives “muzzled the State Historical Society of North Dakota” with regard to the dispute over the location of Basin Electric’s proposed Antelope Valley Station-Neset transmission line.
Two simple facts demonstrate the fallacy of this statement.
First, the donation was made long before any line was even contemplated. The cooperatives collectively saw an opportunity to help tell North Dakota’s story, preserve our rich history and provide a long-lasting contribution in our community.
Second, the donation was made by the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, which includes all the cooperatives in the North Dakota Rural Electric Cooperative Association, including Cass County Electric Cooperative, Minnkota, Great River Energy and Basin Electric. Does Isern believe that all those cooperatives colluded years in advance just to thwart his study?
Isern’s allegations run contrary to the fabric of electric cooperatives. As Touchstone Energy cooperatives, we abide by the four core values of innovation, accountability, integrity and commitment to community.
We are directed by our member-owners, the consumers at the end of the line. We exist to serve them, and we answer to them.
Isern is not mistaken about one thing: We are a presence in our communities. We volunteer our services, time and support to a wide variety of causes, including the preservation of our history. We do this because we care about the communities we serve.
Isern’s statement is irresponsible. We encourage him to refrain from spreading false conclusions based on incorrect assumptions.
Sukut is interim CEO/general manager, Basin Electric Power Cooperative; Hill is executive vice president/general manager, North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives; McLennan is president/CEO, Minnkota Power Cooperative; Saggau is CEO, Great River Energy.