Dan Kudrna Retires from VEC
Dan Kudrna retires
If you have been a Verendrye member for some time you have most likely talked to Dan Kudrna on the phone to report an outage or repair a security light. Dan retired from Verendrye Electric on June 30th after 39 years with Verendrye Electric.
Dan interviewed with former Manager Bruce Carlson and Engineering and Operations Manager John Westby right after college and was hired for a position in the member services department. He started work with Verendrye on March 5, 1979. After 3 years, he moved to the operations department as a Systems Supervisor in dispatch.
“I knew nothing about dispatch at the time but was interested in learning more about electric systems,” Kudrna said. “It was a big learning curve to know how everything worked.” As time went on, Dan said he felt comfortable handling small outages but then the 1983 ice storm hit.
“I was so green at the time and I didn’t know what to do at the time. We had so many members out of power for a long period of time and 150 contractors in here,” Kudrna said. “1983 was the toughest year I’ve had but I learned a lot and was able to do my job better down the road.”
The biggest challenges in Dan’s career were outages -- dealing with winter storms and other consequences of Mother Nature.
Fast forward to 2011 and Mother Nature struck again when the Mouse River flooded a lot of Verendrye’s service areas. The flood was more challenging than any storm or outage situation that VEC has had to deal with in the past because it lasted so long and left behind so many problems. Not only was the flood a problem but the oil boom was also in full swing.
“We had transformers under water, dealing with FEMA to get power to their development and working with contractors with the bursting housing market were all challenges going on at the same time,” Kudrna said. “Work orders were piled on my desk and backed up – not only were we dealing with new services, we also had to make sure our current members were also taken care of.”
There have been lots of changes over the past 39 years that have made handling outages much easier. “When I first started, an outage call would go to the Basin Power Plant first then operators would get the call and then hand it down to the dispatcher that was on call for that particular week. There were no cordless phones so you had to be close to the phone at all times in case there was an outage,” Kudrna said. With the advancements of technology, the dispatcher can log in from home and manage crews without having to drive to the office.
Dan said his time here at VEC has been good, he enjoyed the people he worked with and most of all, enjoyed his job. “The best part of my job was the feeling you get when you get the power back on to a member. Everything we do is for the membership – improve the system and reliability of the system.”
Dan and his wife, Sandy, have moved to Grand Forks and will settle into their new house and community and hope to do some traveling in the future.