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Jeffrey L. Nelson

Jeffrey Nelson
Jeffrey L. Nelson

Distinguished Engineer

Hometown: Marion

Electrical Engineering,

Jeffrey L. Nelson received his BSEE degree from South Dakota State University in 1971 and then served as an officer in the U.S. Army 1st Armored Division through mid-1974. In August 1974, he began his long career with East River Electric Power Cooperative in Madison. Nelson supervised the design and installation of one of the region’s first energy management systems for East River, which serves wholesale electric power supply to rural electric cooperatives in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.

In 1990, he became East River’s General Manager. He provided leadership in creation of the Rural Electric Economic Development initiative, which has provided over $20 million of economic development support throughout East River’s service area. Nelson was largely responsible for South Dakota’s rural electric support of the ethanol industry. 

In 2001, Nelson’s championed rural electric cooperatives’ development of South Dakota’s first commercial wind resources and the development of other renewable energy resources. In 2009, he organized the South Dakota Wind Energy Association and was elected its first president. Nelson is recognized as a national expert on federal renewable hydro electric issues. He served as president of Western States Power Corporation, chaired the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Power and Water Resources Standing Committee and provided leadership as president of Mid-West Electric Consumers Association, the National G&T Managers’ Association and the National Water Resources Association. He served two terms on the Board of the American Public Power Association. 

Nelson has contributed significantly to cooperative ideals, is a strong voice for consumers, has led the expansion of renewable energy and is a respected advocate for the best interests of rural America. Nelson’s wife, Trudiann Glover Nelson, is a 1975 SDSU graduate.