James L. Grahl has long been a prominent leader in the rural electric sector. Hired in 1962 to manage the newly organized Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Grahl turned it into one of the largest and most respected power co-ops in the United States. As Basin Electric's general manager, he pioneered innovative energy projects that serve as environmentally sound models for the nation, helped promote cooperative legislation on the state and national levels, and encouraged others to share his strong belief in cooperatives by providing educational programs.
Grahl also encouraged farmers to form agricultural processing co-ops and rural development projects in the Upper-Midwest. He was instrumental in forming the Missouri Basin Power Project, at that time the largest consumer-owned joint action project in the county, and helped organize the nation's first fuels cooperative. In addition, Grahl was active in the affairs of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and was the first rural electric person to be elected to the American Public Power Association's Board. In 1980 Basin Electric was recognized by President Carter with the National Award of Excellence in Pollution Control.
Jim Grahl has demonstrated statesmanship, innovation, personal commitment, leadership, and vision. His actions have achieved identifiable and lasting changes to improve and promote cooperatives and he has inspired others to advance cooperative systems.