Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative Trustees: Duties, Experience, Involvement

Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative, Inc. is a $59 million private, not-for-profit business owned by its members and has an annual budget of $20 million.

The members elect the Board of Trustees to direct the business and affairs of the Cooperative. The Board strives to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electric service to support economic growth and quality of life for members, employees, and communities.

The Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative Trustees are:

Gary Frieling, President, District 2, Athol

Kenneth Becker, Vice President, District 1, Sylvan Grove

Kevin Cromwell, Secretary, District 3, Haddam

Bernard “Sonny” Bohnen, Treasurer, District 1, Dorrance

Bryan Boyles, District 2, Burr Oak

Leon Eck, District 2, Tipton

Jim Ehrlich, District 1, Wilson

Melroy Kopsa, District 3, Cuba

Jay Overmiller, District 2, Lebanon

Justin Trost, District 3, Concordia

Board Duties

The Board has many important responsibilities for the governance of the Cooperative. The Board hires a manager to operate the business, as well as consultants such as engineers, legal counsel, and an auditor. The Board establishes the Cooperative strategic plan.

The Board determines policies to operate the business and affairs of the Cooperative. Policies are developed through a careful, thoughtful process that considers requirements of state law, best practices from the Cooperative industry, and the needs of Rolling Hills.

The Board’s oversight function includes approving all major planning, borrowing funds, and approving contracts. The Board exercises general financial control, and approves all rate schedules, budgets, forecasts, wages, and salary plans.

To fulfill their responsibilities effectively, the Trustees must be informed on the electric cooperative business, as well as relevant state and national affairs. The 10-member Board of Trustees is experienced, educated, dedicated, and involved.


The current Trustees have considerable years of service to Rolling Hills and its three predecessors: NCK Electric Cooperative, Jewell-Mitchell Electric Cooperative, and Smoky Hill Electric Cooperative. Because of this high level of commitment, the Trustees are well-trained and well-educated about the electric cooperative business. In turn, the Trustees have served for many years on the boards of organizations very important to Rolling Hills.


Education is the foundation for effective Cooperative governance. Members are best served by Trustees - the elected leaders - who are well-trained in Board governance functions and have a solid understanding of the Cooperative industry, as well as state and national affairs.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) offers education and training programs for Trustees, as well as educational meetings and conferences. There are two curriculum training programs to earn certifications: Credentialed Cooperative Director and Board Leadership.

The Credentialed Cooperative Director certification is five courses of required knowledge. Trustees learn governance knowledge and skills in the areas of: Duties and liabilities, understanding the electric business, Board operations and process, strategic planning, and financial decision making.

The Board Leadership certification offers more than 20 courses on advanced issues and skills such as: Risk management, technologies, emergency response planning, current issues, ethics and governance, electric rate strategies, and capital credits.

The Board Leadership certificate requires 10 credits. Trustees often continue to take additional courses to acquire more knowledge. Of the 10 Trustees, nine have earned both the Credentialed Cooperative Director and the Board Leadership certificates. These certificates require many years to earn. One Trustee has been on the Board a short time, and has started to earn his certifications.


Combined, the Trustees dedicate over 300 days annually of their own time to attend to Rolling Hills business, continue education and training, and serve in leadership positions with KEPCo, KEC, and Touchstone Energy. This is a significant investment of their time and attention to serve the members and employees of Rolling Hills.


The Trustees’ notable service record has allowed them to become educated and involved in organizations important to Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative. Trustees have 75 years of service in leadership positions on the Boards of KEPCo, KEC, and Touchstone Energy. Trustees also serve as voting delegates to NRECA. An explanation of these organizations and their importance to Rolling Hills:

KEPCo: The Kansas Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. is a not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperative. KEPCo procures an adequate and reliable power supply for its 19 distribution rural electric cooperative members at a reasonable cost. Rolling Hills receives its power supply from KEPCo. In 2013, power supply was 60 percent of the total cost to provide electric service to Rolling Hills members. The experienced Rolling Hills leadership on the KEPCo Board helps to ensure reliable, affordable electric power contracts to benefit Rolling Hills members.

KEC: The Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. is a statewide service organization for 29 electric distribution cooperatives and three generation and transmission cooperatives. KEC provides important services that the member cooperatives could not affordably or effectively provide on their own. The experienced Rolling Hills leadership on the KEC Board ensures quality services to benefit the member cooperatives. KEC services include legislative research and action programs at the state and national levels, regulatory support, education, safety/loss control, legal and communication services, training and safety programs, safety device inspections, retail rate case assistance, and electrical apparatus testing. Joining together as a statewide association provides greater efficiency and the economy of operations for the member electric cooperatives.

Touchstone Energy: Rolling Hills provides leadership on the Kansas Executive Council of Touchstone Energy, a nationwide alliance of 749 local, member-owned electric cooperatives in 46 states. Touchstone Energy supports lowest-cost, democratically governed energy. Member co-ops have access to education and training tools, member benefit programs, web development resources, and advertising content. By working together, Touchstone Energy member cooperatives generate services that would normally require the resources of a national corporation.

NRECA: Rolling Hills Trustees serve as voting delegates to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national service organization for more than 900 not-for-profit electric cooperatives and public power districts. Member organizations provide retail electric service to more than 42 million consumers in 47 states, with retail sales of approximately 12 percent of total electricity sales in the United States. NRECA offers insurance and financial services programs and benefits for member cooperative employees. NRECA offers training and education programs for cooperative employees and Trustees. NRECA also provides political action initiatives to support and protect the interest of electric cooperatives and their member-owners.

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