Energy producers meeting to focus on humor at work

Jeremy Browning

Representatives from area energy producers will converge on the Holiday Inn Thursday to take part in one of the five annual meetings of the Northwest Colorado Energy Producers Association. And while those in attendance will represent competing interests, including four different coalmines, association officials say an air of camaraderie prevails.

“It’s a forum for all of us in this business to get together and socialize and listen to a benign topic of interest,” said Jim Mattern, the association’s president, who is the engineering manager at Trapper Mine.

This year the topic is especially benign. Todd Halverson of Berthod Equipment will speak on “Humor in the Workplace.”

Mattern said many times the topic is more technical. Topics at recent meetings include using global positioning system equipment in surface mining, and the technical aspects of a shaft-sinking project at Twentymile Coal Company’s underground mine.

With 50 to 100 energy representatives gathered in the same room, one would think it may be a good time to talk business, but Mattern said that’s not the purpose of the meeting. Actually, it’s against the law.

“Cost and price are never discussed. In fact, it’s a violation of (Security and Exchange Commission) regulations,” Mattern said.

Membership in the association is casual. The association has no formal membership drive, and no yearly dues. Mattern said the secretary-treasurer keeps a list of active members, though.

The association’s vice president is Greg Kitchen, the mine manager at Seneca. He said membership reflects the association’s name.

“It’s just exactly what the name says. It’s a conglomeration of people from neighboring strip mines, underground mines, power plants and oil and gas (companies).”

Kitchen said he doesn’t see the meeting as a gathering of competitors, “no more so than a chamber of commerce meeting.”

In the same way that local merchants gather to discuss trends and pool their interests for the good of the city’s business picture, energy producers gather to talk about what’s good or bad for the energy industry, Kitchen said.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with where you work,” Kitchen said.

Mattern explained that the strip mines are interested in underground mining and vice versa.

“And everybody’s interested in safety,” Mattern said.

Xcel Energy, as represented by the Hayden Station Power Plant, hosted a meeting earlier this year discussing safety-related topics.

The next meeting of the Energy Producers Association will be hosted by Trapper Mining Inc. Dec. 4. At that meeting, the association will vote for a new vice president. Mattern, the current president, said it’s a foregone conclusion that Kitchen will take over as president.

“We’re gonna railroad him into it,” Kitchen said.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or

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