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Basin Electric: enhancing supplier relationships

Basin Electric Power Cooperative is a consumer-owned, regional cooperative headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota. The utility operates coal-burning, electric generating power plants with a total capacity of 3,373 megawatts. Basin serves 125 member-system cooperatives that in turn serve approximately 1.8 million consumers in nine states.

In addition to power generation facilities, Basin manages a transmission network of 2,410 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. This system includes 38 switchyards and substations that change the electricity's voltage and direct its flow, as well as 59 microwave installations used for communications and system protection.

For the past four years, Basin has processed purchase orders and invoices using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) with nine suppliers. While the utility was very comfortable with EDI, staff also was looking to the future to understand how to expand e-commerce to more of the supplier base.

Some electronic marketplaces offered interesting opportunities, but seemed to require Basin to move away from the majority of its current suppliers that have supported the industry. Marketplace options would have required Basin to consolidate purchases within large national purchasing pools, and the utility did not want to do that. Basin also sought a solution that would fit not only large companies with dedicated computer resources, but also small to medium size businesses vital to the region's economic vitality.

"Partnerships and alliances allow us to better manage risk. Suppliers are very important to Basin Electric and in fact, we view our suppliers as extensions of our resources," said Ron Harper, Basin Electric CEO.

After careful consideration, Basin selected MotherLode North America to help facilitate its e-commerce expansion, because MLNA staff understands the importance of continuing business relationships with the many suppliers that made Basin successful over the years. In addition, MotherLode offered a range of e-commerce options that fit large and small companies.

"Support from our suppliers is critical to our success," Harper said. "They are a key component of our mission to provide best-in-class, cost-effective wholesale energy along with products and services that support and unite rural America."

Case Studies

Basin Electric
One of the Upper Midwest's furthest-reaching utilities selected MotherLode to develop electronic supply connections with the many small and mid-sized companies that make up its core supplier base.

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