Director Election Candidates
Below are brief biographies for candidates running for director election in Districts 2, 5 and 7.
Paul Buhrmann, Albertville, is running for director in District 2. Buhrmann, along with his wife, Connie, live in Albertville and have been Wright-Hennepin (WH) members for more than 10 years. Currently retired, Buhrmann was a grocery industry executive for more than 45 years focusing in retail, wholesale and vendor management. Previous to his retirement, he worked for Affiliated Foods Midwest handling new business development.
Buhrmann is a member of AARP and Life in Christ Lutheran Church in Albertville. He is a booster member of the Handicapped Development Center, and a Towne Lakes Traditional Homes Home Owners Association member. He has previous experience serving on a township park district board and as an officer on a volunteer fire department.
“My management style is that of a big-picture thinker, problem solver and team player,” Buhrmann said. “I am experienced in budgeting and planning and understand financials. I will bring my business experience to the board as a director if elected. Thank you.”
Duane "Butch" Lindenfelser
Duane “Butch” Lindenfelser is the incumbent director running in District 2. Lindenfelser has served as a board director for 21 years. He has been a Wright-Hennepin (WH) member for 51 years. He and his wife, Patricia, have four children and seven grandchildren.
Lindenfelser, now retired, has spent the bulk of his professional career in the food, beverage and entertainment industry. He also worked for the Minnesota Department of Transportation road research in Monticello, Minn., where he drove Class A commercial vehicles and worked with the University of Minnesota on new technology.
He is the secretary/treasurer for WH Holding, the second vice president of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association Board of Directors, and has completed the certified cooperative director course. Additionally, Lindenfelser was a member of the Monticello Lions Club for 34 years where he served as past president. Lindenfelser has also been a charter member of the Monticello Knights of Columbus since 1976 and a member of the Monticello Sportsman Club since 1989. He is a lifelong member of the St. Albert Catholic Church and is currently on the Minnesota Rural Electric Board of Directors Association.
“I will continue working to keep our energy costs at an affordable and reliable level for the members of WH,” Lindenfelser said. “I will also work to implement green technologies, such as solar and battery storage in the immediate future,” said Lindenfelser.
Chris Lantto is the incumbent director running in District 5. Lantto has served as Wright-Hennepin’s (WH) District 5 director since 1987 and was chairman of the board for 15 years. He and his wife, Vicki, have nine children and eight grandchildren.
Lantto has owned Lantto’s Store in French Lake for 40 years and is a member of the Annandale and Cokato Chambers of Commerce. His other volunteer efforts include serving on the Riverside Cemetery Association, and he is a past board member and chairman of the First Apostolic Congregation of Cokato.
“I consider it a privilege to be a director of such a progressive organization like WH, and to be able to work with talented individuals on the board and management,” Lantto said. “The last few years have been especially challenging with wholesale rate increases, flat energy sales, renewables, natural gas gaining market share, and coal playing a lesser role in our power supply mix. Keeping our retail rates competitive and reliable for our members is still our number one priority. The years ahead will have more challenges and I am eager to be a part of the process.”
Ed Budde, Plymouth, is running for director in District 7. Budde, along with his wife, Gina and their three children, live in Plymouth and have been Wright-Hennepin (WH) members for more than 15 years. He is an application engineer for SEL where he has worked for five years. Previous to his current position, Budde was a systems engineer for Connexus Energy in Ramsey, Minn.
Budde is a registered professional engineer in Minnesota and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineers. He is also a member the Instrument Society of America, and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Previously, he served as chair of the Albertville planning and zoning commission. In his free time, Budde has been a volunteer coach and board member for youth baseball, basketball, softball and football.
“I have over 15 years of experience in the utility industry with recent field experience at Connexus Energy, and over 25 years of experience as an electrical engineer in the Northwest Minneapolis area,” Budde said. “I currently interface with utilities in the upper Midwest on a regular basis as part of my job so I am well aware of the issues Wright-Hennepin faces and the industry as a whole. I would welcome the opportunity to serve on the board and leverage my industry experience to help all WH members.”
Ken Hiebel is the incumbent director running in District 7. He was elected in 2012 and won reelection in 2014. Hiebel has been a WH member for more than 15 years.
Hiebel serves on the policy and planning committee for WH, and represents the Board for the state Political Action Committee. He is also this year’s representative for National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) meetings. He has earned Credentialed Cooperative Director Certification and Board Leadership Certification from the NRECA.
He lives in the Townhomes at the Reserve in Plymouth. Hiebel served several years on the townhomes’ board of directors. Hiebel also served as board chair for the St. Anthony/New Brighton school board for nine years, as well as the St. Anthony planning commission.
Prior to retiring, Hiebel was vice president of Dyco Petroleum Corporation, an oil and gas investment company, where he headed marketing and investor services and broker/dealer sales support. Earlier in his career he did contract management for Honeywell’s aerospace operations and the Latin America Region.
He has a BA in business from the University of St. Thomas, where he also did development work.
“I am proud to be a part of the WH community, which is considered a leader in innovation, service, reliability, and value among all cooperatives in the nation. WH is a leader in creative solutions for power supply costs, and was the first cooperative to offer community solar options,” Hiebel said. “We constantly provide rates and services that are better than Xcel Energy, and other metro area cooperatives. I would be proud to continue to serve the members of WH, and respectfully request your vote.”
Paul Johnson, Plymouth, is running for director in District 7. Johnson and his wife, Gail, have been Wright-Hennepin members since 2014. They have eight children with five graduated and working and the youngest a freshman at Wayzata High School.
Johnson is the president of S&P Energy, LLC, where he has worked since September of 2016. Prior to that, he was the director of resource planning and bidding at Xcel Energy. He was also employed as the manager of power supply planning at Old Dominion Electric Cooperative in Glenn Allen, Va. which involved providing analysis and information for monthly Board of Director meetings.
In his free time, Johnson enjoys taking trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and biking and hiking in state and national parks. He also enjoys scuba diving, and bird hunting with his dog, Bentley. Johnson is an adult leader of Boy Scout Troop 283 in Wayzata.
“I enjoy working to address future challenges and opportunities in the electric utility industry to ensure a balanced, reliable and cost effective set of power supply options,” Johnson said. “My planning experience of having to develop and gain stakeholder support for long-term electric supply plans will help me make a valuable contribution as a WH director, especially to ensure that plans have flexibility needed to manage uncertainties while keeping customer costs at an acceptable level.”