The long drive times across Wyoming help Rep. Tyler Lindholm (R-Sundance) organize his thoughts and switch gears between his various pursuits as a electrician, father, rancher, and policymaker.
In the space of a week the Representative from Crook County might go from working on a 345,000-volt power line, to helping with his kids’ 4-H projects and wife’s garden, to branding calves at a neighbor’s ranch, to attending meetings at the Capitol in Cheyenne.
“I have to have my P’s and Q’s lined out,” he said. “Thinking about the bills on the drive time really helps, and there is an abundance of drive time in Wyoming.”
For his day job the 32-year-old freshman representative and Navy veteran leads a crew of substation electricians for Basin Electric Power Cooperative, one of Wyoming’s largest generating and transmission utilities. The drive to work begins at 5:45 a.m., and he’s usually on the job “in the middle of nowhere” until 5:30 in the evening. He covers a region from North Dakota, to Rapid City on the east, Wheatland to the south and Sheridan to the west.
Lindholm got into electric work when he served in the U.S. Navy for five years, working on electronics for helicopters. He was stationed mostly in San Diego, but was among the first deployed to Indonesia after the tsunami that struck in 2004. He called that experience, “one heck of a rodeo.”
Lindholm moved back to his family ranch after leaving the Navy. He trained as an apprentice electrician, and ran for Wyoming House after serving as chairman of the Crook County Republican Party. He won election in November 2014, and was appointed to the Corporations and Agriculture Committees, and the Digital Information Privacy Task force.
Locally, he’s concerned about the ability of small municipalities to raise the 25 percent match of state funds to cap leaking landfills and then transfer waste to other facilities. He’s also keeping an eye on the National Forest permitting process for the Bear Lodge Project rare-earth mine, that he says could be a big boost to the local economy. For the 2016 session, he’s considering drafting a resolution to retain the name of Devils Tower National Monument, rather than changing it to Bear Lodge, as a coalition of Tribes would like.
As an employee of Basin Electric, Lindholm is keenly aware of the implications of the Clean Power Act, and the company’s challenge to meet future carbon dioxide reduction quotas at the Laramie River Station and the Dry Fork station. “It is an uncomfortable place for the whole industry because no one knows what is going to happen and where we are going to be left standing,” he said.