By Philip Reed
In July 2021, Lloyd Linke assumed the role of senior vice president and Upper Great Plains regional manager. In this capacity, he leads more than 340 employees across Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota in serving customers with cost-based federal hydropower. UGP markets more than 2,600 megawatts of firm federal hydropower in a six-state area with around 8,000 miles of WAPA-owned transmission line and more than 300 customers.
Closed Circuit sat down with Linke to get to know him better.
What brought you to WAPA initially?
Out of college, I went to work in the oil field as an engineer. The price of oil dropped within a couple of years and I didn't survive the workforce purge.
This was late in the calendar year and most other entities were ending their fiscal year and wouldn't be hiring for a few months. However, WAPA was just beginning its fiscal year and had direct hiring authority to hire engineers. The district office in Huron, South Dakota, had three engineering positions open and I was selected for one of them.
It may not have been my choice out of college, but I have never regretted going to work for WAPA.
What has been your most rewarding experience at WAPA so far?
With all the time I've been with WAPA, there are a lot of them. Of course, being selected as UGP regional manager is one of them. However, the experience I'm most proud of is being part of the UGP team that negotiated the terms of our joining the Southwest Power Pool.
Being the first power marketing administration to join a regional transmission organization/independent system operator, we didn't have a template on what membership should look like. Congress enacted criteria in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 on PMAs joining an RTO that required us to negotiate provisions that had not been in any RTO/ISO agreements and tariff.
After multiple false starts with previous attempts to create or join an RTO/ISO, it was really gratifying to have finally accomplished the task.
What is something most people do not know about you?
I like to brew beer and have several recipes that I like. My favorites are English brown ales and several styles of IPAs.
Those of you who have met with me virtually the past few months may know this, but most of WAPA may not: I make wine from various kits. I mainly make merlots and shiraz, but I have done several other red wines. I also like to spend a lot of time at the family lake cabin during the summer. My granddaughters are starting to enjoy this time also.
What are you reading right now? Do you have a favorite author?
I'm currently reading The Lincoln Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer. As far as favorite authors: David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Lee Child and Michael Connelly to name a few. I guess I like crime/spy mysteries.
My oldest granddaughter is into Harry Potter, so I have been watching the Harry Potter movies with her over the past few weeks.
What are your communication and leadership styles?
I like to believe that I have an open communication style and inclusive leadership, but only those who have worked with me will know whether or not it is true. My door is always open, and in today's environment my email, telephone and Teams messaging are open.
I try to make sure that all the parties have a chance to express their views before making critical decisions. In fact, if I sense too much groupthink, I will take the opposite view just to make sure we are considering everything. I know this has surprised some folks when I make my decision and it doesn't match the point of view I had been discussing.
I firmly believe that you learn more from mistakes than from someone telling you how to do something. I feel that my role is to make sure people understand the issues so they can make an informed decision, and that they will be able to recover from any mistake they may make.
Would you tell us about your coworkers at home?
My wife, Cindy, and I are sort of empty-housers. Both of our children are grown and on their own.
However, our son and his family live in Watertown, South Dakota, and Cindy provides a lot of the daycare for our two granddaughters, Kielee and Hannah.
They are here a lot, so the house is not really empty. Some of you may have seen our other companion during a virtual meeting; she is a poodle named Kayti.
During WAPA's period of maximum telework, what do you think is the most valuable lesson you've learned as a leader?
Communication is more important in a remote work environment. Without being able to meet people face to face, it requires more concentrated communications to establish relationships with new staff. This will continue as we re-enter the workplace, since it will very likely be that we have more people teleworking and teleworking more days of the week than before the pandemic.
The use of the tools provided by Information Technology will help. To begin with, I relied on the traditional methods of communication, within the constraints. That only left telephone, email and WebEx, if someone set it up for me.
As time went on, I began to see the value in the new tools IT had provided and started using them. They have become a vital tool for me.
Note: The author is a public affairs specialist.