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“Do whatever job you currently have to the best of your ability and see what opportunities will open for you.” – Kooney Duncan


From Power Plant Operator to CEO


Kooney Duncan was born and raised in southeastern Oklahoma. He graduated from Fort Towson High School where he played base- ball, making it to a state tournament in 1999. He attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma, earning a de- gree in occupational safety and health. Upon graduating, Duncan learned of an open position at generation and transmission cooperative, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative’s (WFEC) coal-fired plant in Hugo, Oklahoma. “Jobs at WFEC didn’t come up too often, and it was at home, so I decided to take on the op- portunity,” Duncan says.


His career in the electric cooperative industry


began at WFEC in 2004 at the lowest power plant operator position. When an opportunity became available to apply for a safety coordina- tor position at the Anadarko WFEC office, Duncan pursued it and was selected. He later got married to his wife Lendy in 2007. From the safety coordinator position, he was


Kooney Duncan, Choctaw Electric Cooperative CEO.


20 WWW.OKL.COOP


promoted to become the commercial and in- dustrial marketing manager for WFEC. He de- veloped a knowledge and understanding of WFEC’s cooperative systems; his position en- tailed meeting on a regular basis with WFEC’s co-ops to assist them with billing, outage re- sponse coordination, management of large ac- counts, substation upgrades and rate questions. He also helped to identify recovery mechanisms and developed efficiency programs to benefit WFEC member-systems; he worked on forecast analysis and impact of wholesale rates on distri- bution co-ops. While growing in this position, Duncan was made aware of a CEO opening at Choctaw Electric Cooperative based in Hugo, Oklahoma. The prospect of returning home to southeast Oklahoma appealed to him. Duncan applied and became the co-op CEO in April of 2017 at 35 years of age. “I began understanding the industry better and the operations of a distribution co-op in my former role with WFEC,” Duncan says. “I came to Choctaw Electric Cooperative because I want to be a positive influence. This is home, and I want to make a difference for the better. I’m here to use my knowledge and experience to


bring the best service to our members.” When asked about the greatest lesson in his


career, Duncan points to the good leaders he has had in the past. “My mentors have believed in me and al- lowed me to achieve great things and pursue my greatest goals. They showed me principles to stand by,” Duncan says. “I attribute any of my success to those I have worked with. I feel priv- ileged that today I have the opportunity to try and be the same kind of leader to an excellent team.”


As a young manager rooted in rural Oklahoma,


Duncan believes today’s generation of consum- ers have the tendency of forgetting why electric cooperatives were formed. “We have more hurdles because of where we serve. At Choctaw Electric we serve on average 5.4 members per mile of line; that is very differ- ent than the 35 members per mile of line that other utilities serve,” Duncan says. According to him, one of the industry’s great-


est challenges is to balance change and regula- tions to continue delivering safe, reliable and affordable power to members. As Duncan looks to the future of electric cooperatives, he is cer- tain the cooperative-member relationship must be nurtured and strengthened. “Technology will continue to advance, further


changing our industry,” Duncan says. “What should never change, however, is the co-op commitment to serving the membership and members’ appreciation for their electric cooper- atives. This relationship is vital. That is why I value an open-door policy and welcome mem- bers to express their opinions or concerns any time.” Duncan added that Choctaw Electric is an engine for economic empowerment in south- eastern Oklahoma, serving facilities such Tyson, Huber Engineered Woods, Pan Pacific, Howard McLeod Correctional Center, and many recre- ational establishments as well as businesses and residences. “Choctaw Electric’s services allow us to enjoy the beauty of southeastern Oklahoma and make it possible for folks to live and raise their fami- lies here,” Duncan says.


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