Dean’s career managing land and natural resources, as well as his interest in renewable energy around the globe, began with a childhood spent on his family’s Hill Country ranch in Texas. Dean started working with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Lander, Wyoming, following his degree from Texas A&M and military service. Dean led the way for helping the BLM evolve into the multiple use management agency that it is now. Dean assisted the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Geneva to establish the Interim Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity. He served as United States Chairman for Biosphere Reserves and later on a Global Commission with UNESCO. His honors include receiving the rank of Distinguished Executive from three Presidents as well as the Secretary of Interior’s Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards and the Lifetime Service Award by the Public Lands Foundation. In addition to SDWEA, he currently serves on several national and local organizations.
Dean and his wife Dixie have three adult children and two grandsons. They raise mostly wheat, corn, sunflowers and soybeans on their Sully County South Dakota farm maintaining connections through visits to farm and family from the early 1960’s through today. Looking to the future, they hope to add wind energy to their farm products.
Toby L. Crow
Toby Crow has served as the Executive Vice President of the Associated General Contractors of South Dakota since March of 2006 and has served on the AGC of America Executive Leadership Council Board since 2012. Prior to joining the AGC, Toby worked for two consulting engineering companies in Illinois, Maryland & Canada and was the Executive Vice President of the South Dakota Chapter of the American Concrete Pavement Association. Prior to this time, Toby spent 10 years with the South Dakota Department of Transportation as the State Pavement Management Engineer.
Toby naturally chose the construction industry for his professional career because he grew up on South Dakota’s highways as his dad was a bridge builder. Toby received his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and is a registered professional engineer. Toby and his wife Elizabeth (Liz) are the proud parents of five (5) children and four (4) grandchildren.
Chad Felderman is the CEO/General Manager at Dakota Energy Cooperative. Dakota Energy is a member-owned Cooperative, based in Huron, SD, serving seven rural counites with twenty-five hundred miles of distribution line. He began his career in the electrical utility industry over 20 years ago in the investor-owned sector with Northwestern Energy in Huron and Black Hills Power in Rapid City. Chad has been employed at Dakota Energy since 2009. Over the years, his career has allowed Chad to gain experience in many aspects of the electrical and gas fields. He began his career as a lineman, moving on to electrical system design, Cooperative member services and currently, CEO/General Manager.
His commitment to the community is demonstrated by his present and past membership on the Greater Huron Development Corporation and James Valley Housing Boards. Collaborating with others in community associations such as SDWEA has provided Chad with an opportunity to share his experience to help foster improvement for our future.
Chad grew up in rural South Dakota and lives on his family’s farm near Doland, South Dakota with his wife and two boys. Growing up and raising a family in rural South Dakota is the foundation of Chad’s career investment in safe, affordable and sustainable energy.
Gary R. Fish
Gary R. Fish is the President of the South Dakota Wind Energy Association. Gary is an energy executive with nearly 40 years of experience. Gary is currently the owner and founder of Parkview Energy Partners LLC, an asset management and advisory firm focused on the clean energy space. Gary is also a founding shareholder of RENEW Energy Inc, which is one of the largest independent wind turbine service companies in the US. Gary served 10 years as CFO for RENEW and currently serves on its Board of Directors. Gary also serves on the Board of Directors of Sioux Valley Energy, the largest electric distribution cooperative in South Dakota. Gary is also a partner in COAXIS Energy Company, a holding company that is focused on the distribution of liquefied natural gas in the upper Midwest. Gary’s other experience includes serving as Vice President and Treasurer of Cedar American Rail Holdings, the largest regional railroad in North America, for 8 years with a focus on building a new rail line into the Powder River Basin coal fields. Gary also served in several financial and corporate development executive positions with Black Hills Corporation (NYSE-BKH) for 15 years in Rapid City, South Dakota. Gary is a CPA and began his career with RSM, a national accounting firm in Gillette, Wyoming. He is a University of South Dakota graduate. Gary is married to his wife Barb, and they reside in Brandon, SD. They have two adult children.
Steven Hansen is a farmer/rancher in eastern South Dakota. He has server H-D Electric Coop as a director for 32 years. In that position he provides direction to Coop staff to ensure that their member/owners have access to a safe and reliable electrical service. He represents his Coop on the South Dakota Rural Electric Association (SDREA) board. SDREA provides legislative and safety services to all electric coops in South Dakota. In response to the members concerns to bring more renewable electrical generation into the states portfoilo, SDREA became and remains involved with the SDWEA. Mr. Hansen was elected to serve as SDREA’s representative on the SDWEA board. He has also served on local community boards as well as 16 years on the board of directors for Minnesota Soybean Processors. Steven has a bachelors degree in Mechanized Agriculture from SDSU.
Ron Kaaz is a member of the Northern Electric Board of Directors. He is a retired 3M engineer and has served on his local township board, the Aberdeen School Board, and is currently the president-elect of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Council in Aberdeen.
Kaaz grew up in Leola and attended Northern State University where he played football and threw shot put and discus for the track and field team. After he graduated from NSU, Kaaz moved to Platte, South Dakota, with his wife Carla where he taught middle school math. After spending four years teaching, Kaaz moved back to Aberdeen and was hired by 3M. He went through an in-house engineering program with 3M and worked as a mechanical engineer in a department that made industrial adhesives. Kaaz retired from 3M in 2010.
When Kaaz is not serving on local boards, the retired engineer spends his time operating the Foote Creek Bed and Breakfast which he owns with his wife Carla near Richmond Lake in rural Aberdeen.
The couple opened the business in 2001 and can host up to eight guests in four bedrooms. In the fall, Kaaz says the Foote Creek Bed and Breakfast partners with Pheasant Country Hunts to fill their guestrooms with hunters who travel to the area. Kaaz has also taken up pheasant hunting and enjoys getting out in the field with his black lab Coda. Ron and Carla Kaaz also have two adult children and three grandchildren.
Yannick Laroche is Production Manager for Marmen Energy located in Brandon, SD. Marmen manufactures utility scale wind tower for different wind turbine OEMs and is considered one of the largest manufacturers of wind towers in North America. He started his career for Marmen in 2006 as an engineer, working at their two facilities located in Quebec, Canada. Laroche moved in South Dakota in 2013 to start the operation of Marmen Energy’s latest plant. Laroche holds a degree in Physics Engineering and an MBA from Laval University in Quebec, Canada. He actively serves on different boards and he is proud to have contributed to the growth and development of the wind industry in the region.
Mark Mauersberger (Brookfield Renewable U.S.) has over a decade of renewable energy experience, including: wind, solar, and energy storage.
Having closed numerous projects, exceeding 1,500MW in capacity (throughout the Midwest and Plains states), Mark consistently sees his own energy projects providing “net benefits” to their host communities.
Mark holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Ohio University where he was a student athlete.
He resides in St. Michael, MN with his wife Tina and three children. Mark and Tina are very active in their local community but also enjoy traveling abroad to explore different cultures.
Mark enjoys outdoor activities (including boating, hunting, fishing, and kayaking………to name just a few) and is excited to pair his passion for taking on challenges with his service to the SDWEA board.
Meghan is the Director of Asset Management at Longroad Energy, headquartered in Boston, MA. Her team oversees the operations of both Wind and Solar assets across the United States. Meghan is active in the American Clean Power Association and is currently a session chair for the American Clean Power Association’s 2021 Operations and Maintenance Conference. Prior to Longroad, Meghan worked for another two other Renewable Independent Power Producers.
Meghan holds a B.A. degree in Political Science and Business Economics from the University of Maine. In addition, she has her JD and MBA from Suffolk University. Meghan and her husband, Nathan, reside in New Hampshire.
Vic Simmons was born and raised in eastern South Dakota. After graduating from South Dakota State University, the electric utility industry came calling. Vic has worked on many different projects in over 35 years with Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative and over 42 years in the utility industry. He has been the CEO and General Manager for Rushmore for the last 21 years.
Vic and Barb have raised three daughters and are currently spoiling the five grandchildren as much as possible. When he’s not keeping the power flowing in western South Dakota, Vic enjoys hunting, camping, and a little wild ride on his motorcycle.
Doug Sombke is a Conde, South Dakota, fourth generational farmer that has a profound passion for agriculture and family farms. As an agriculture producer, Doug farms corn, soybeans, with various small grain rotations and raises cattle. In Doug’s role as President of South Dakota Farmers Union, since 2005, his leadership and determination have helped thousands of farmers and ranchers have a strong voice at the State and Federal level. In 2017, Mr. Sombke was elected President of Farmers Union Enterprises, an organization that owns several agribusinesses whose profits help fund the operations of the five state Farmers Union organizations as well as National Farmers Union, where he also serves on the Executive Board.
Chris Studer serves as the Chief Member and Public Relations Officer for East River Electric Power Cooperative, a wholesale power supplier to 24 distribution cooperative distribution systems and one municipal electric system located throughout eastern South Dakota and parts of western Minnesota. Studer has been with the cooperative since 2013 and leads the cooperative’s Member Services Division consisting of internal and external communications, marketing and government relations. East River Electric and its member systems were instrumental in the formation of the South Dakota Wind Energy Association and continue to play an active role in promoting wind energy as part of a diverse generation mix.
Prior to working for East River Electric, Studer worked in communications, marketing and government affairs for a statewide agriculture organization. He previously worked as a news reporter and anchor for a Sioux Falls television station.
A native of Brainerd, Minnesota, Studer graduated from South Dakota State University with degrees in mass communication and political science.