In December, Compliance Manager Mark Buchholz received the Midwest Reliability Organization's Highly Effective Reliability Organizations Award. He earned the honor alongside Sharon Koller of the American Transmission Company.
“Both Mark and Sharon exemplify the qualifications of the HERO Award and have made significant contributions to assuring a highly reliable and secure North American bulk power system," MRO Organizational Group Oversight Committee Chair Keri Glitch said in the group's announcement of the awards.
The award is intended to recognize individuals for exemplary initiative and commitment to advancing the concept and principles of Highly Effective Reliability Organizations throughout the MRO region and in support of MRO's vision and mission.
The group cited Buchholz's ability to serve as a conduit between MRO and others within the industry, including the Southwest Power Pool and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.
“His unique perspective helped avoid duplication of efforts during the development of various MRO initiatives," the announcement continued. “Buchholz was also essential in spearheading the coordination of multiple registered entities' event analysis programs, resulting in a more effective and efficient means of understanding power system events in a portion of MRO's footprint that has multiple owners and operators."
“With over 30 years of experience within UGP's Maintenance, Operations and Compliance offices, Mark has left an indelible mark on not only UGP, but all entities within the MRO footprint," said Senior Vice President and UGP Regional Manager Lloyd Linke. “He brings together experts from the relevant business lines when investigating an issue or developing recommended solutions, and he asks the questions which lead to positive change. He never hesitates to reach out to neighboring entities to discuss an operational event or compliance concern, and is widely regarded outside of WAPA as a trusted expert when investigating operational events."
The HERO Award is part of MRO's Volunteer Recognition Program, which was implemented in 2020 to acknowledge industry volunteers for their hard work and contributions to the success of MRO.
“Mark is well known for his calm demeanor and engaging personality, which put others at ease when faced with complex discussions or bad news," Linke concluded. “Mark's consistent demonstration of HERO behaviors and his efforts to promote these practices both within and outside of WAPA make him a fantastic candidate for MRO's HERO Award."
Closed Circuit sat down with Buchholz recently to discuss the accomplishment.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I graduated in 1988 from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. I joined WAPA in 1983 as part of the Junior Fellowship Program and since May 2010, I have served as a compliance manager for Upper Great Plains.
I am presently a member of the NERC Compliance Certification Committee, the MRO Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Advisory Committee, the MRO Performance Risk Oversight Subcommittee, the Mid-Continent Compliance Forum, the Western Interconnection Compliance Forum, and the SPP Reliability Compliance Advisory Group. I am active in North American Transmission Forum activities.
I am also a former member of the MRO Compliance Committee, the MRO Standards Committee and the SPP Reliability Compliance Workgroup.
Can you explain your role at WAPA?
My primary responsibility is to work with staff within UGP to maintain compliance to the applicable NERC Reliability Standards. I am also responsible for providing oversight for the system operator trainers at Watertown, South Dakota, and facility management for the Watertown Office Complex.
How does it feel to be recognized this way by MRO?
It is quite an honor. It's awarded based upon your work and interaction with your industry peers in promoting and implementing MRO's principles of highly effective reliability organizations, which align very closely with WAPA's core values.
What has been your experience with MRO?
I've worked closely with MRO staff since I began working in NERC compliance in 2010. I've had opportunities to work with MRO staff in compliance audits, NERC compliance violation investigations, event analysis and self-reporting and mitigation of compliance violations.
As a member of the MRO Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Advisory Committee, I work with MRO staff to provide advice to the board of directors and the Organizational Group Oversight Committee on NERC Reliability Standards, risk assessment, compliance monitoring and enforcement issues. I also assist in MRO member outreach and awareness in these areas.
They are a great group of professionals dedicated to ensuring power system reliability.
You serve on a number of councils and committees. What can you tell us about them?
Having the opportunity to serve on these committees allows me to provide a UGP perspective on various issues as they are discussed, and it also provides an opportunity to gain a better understanding of other member representatives' positions on issues.
In addition, it provides a great opportunity to network and develop professional relationships with our regulators and member representatives from other companies, many of which are WAPA customers.
What else would you like to share with WAPA employees?
If the opportunity presents itself to serve on a council or committee, either internally or externally, seriously consider participation.
It is a great way to gain a better understanding of the different business lines within our organization. It also provides an opportunity to meet your counterparts in other organizations to discuss and develop solutions for common issues and concerns.