Victorious day for Verendrye in Velva

It was a big day for the community of Velva Wednesday as Verendrye Electric Cooperative held an open house and ribbon-cutting for the new addition to the Velva headquarters. The open house took place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. Tours of the building and refreshments were also available for those in attendance.

According to Bruce Carlson, general manager for Verendrye Electric Cooperative, this is the first office addition to the Velva headquarters in 33 years, the last one occurring in 1979. The addition is 9,000 square feet and includes 10 new offices as well as a new dispatch center that will help employees more efficiently handle outages and the daily workflow. The addition also includes ground source heat pumps to efficiently heat and cool the building.

In 1979, Verendrye Electric Cooperative had 6,707 accounts, while today they have 14,670 accounts, Carlson said. They added an all-time record high 1,649 new electrical accounts in 2011 with at least 1,000 per year additional expected for the next five years, he continued.

Presently, Verendrye has 62 full-time employees, five part-time employees and two openings.

The additional space at the Verendrye headquarters in Velva was definitely needed, Carlson said. Before the completion of the addition, employees doubled-up and tripled-up in single offices and could not fit all of their present employees in the now old community room for safety and employee training. In the new community room, however, there is plenty of space for everyone. The new and larger community room will continue to be available for member and organizational meeting use free of charge.

The dispatch center and control room was also critically needed in order to maintain system reliability. What’s more, the additional space at the Verendrye headquarters in Velva was needed due to the new 50-year utility privatization contract with the Minot Air Force Base that was recently awarded to Verendrye Electric Cooperative. It was also needed due to the Minot AFB housing privatization contract and the possibility of 1,740 additional meters, data management and possibly even billing requirements.

With the new addition, Verendrye Electric is building now for future decades, Carlson said. “The main thing is we just want to thank our members,” he added. “We’re member-operated and we want to show them that we’ll invest their money wisely.”

Verendrye Electric has an office in Minot and in Velva. They serve more than 14,000 meters in the six counties surrounding Minot, a 4,000-square-mile area.