CEO’s Message

Manager's Message

April 2017

Details of specific proposals vary, but the essence of most political debates boils down to a basic question: “Who gets to decide?” Whether Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) is working to persuade your representative in the Nevada Legislature or the United States Congress, the essence of our message is, “Our members decided to invest in an electric cooperative to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity. Our members vote to decide who represents them on the Board of Directors. Any legislation should respect our members’ investment and their right to make decisions for themselves.”

Backers of Question 3, dubbed the “Energy Choice Initiative” on the November 2016 general election ballot, made some lofty promises: lower bills, more renewable energy, more jobs and a choice of electricity providers.

It may not be obvious when you pay your monthly bill, but WREC fulfills all of those promises every day. Here are some examples.

WREC purchases its wholesale power supply from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). While we have serious concerns about BPA’s rising costs, it has historically been a reliable source of affordable electricity. In fact, utility rates across the Pacific Northwest are among the lowest in the nation. The decision your elected Board members made to purchase wholesale electricity from BPA and to control local costs fulfills the promise of lower bills.

About 85% of the electricity you use is generated by hydroelectric dams. An additional 1% is generated by wind. WREC also integrates local sources of renewable energy through our net metering policy. In total, about 86% of the electricity you use comes from renewable resources. That percentage far exceeds any Renewable Portfolio Standard adopted for Nevada and fulfills the promise providing renewable energy.

The promise of more jobs is often made in conjunction with the promise of a more diversified economy. Rather that collect money through rates to “create” jobs, the strategy of your Board of Directors has been to keep electricity affordable so you can support local businesses, and those businesses can then create jobs in every sector of the economy.

Finally, lets consider the promise of choice of providers. It’s possible that some of our members with large loads could make electricity purchases from the wholesale market. Some may even be able to arrange delivery through multiple owners of various components of the transmission grid. However, to get a competitive price, most of us would need to join a collection of other consumers so that we could buy in bulk. WREC has always provided that service. It isn’t just a small collection of your friends or business associates, its a pool of 4,072 members in Tooele, Elko and Eureka counties who, through their membership in WREC, have made a collective promise to each other to purchase all of their electricity together to achieve the best possible price.

There is a possibility that Question 3 could create some opportunities for WREC members. Our promise is that your electric cooperative will capitalize on any opportunities on your behalf. We always have.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

March 2017

Punxsutawney Phil is wrong more often than he is right, but I still heard a collective groan over the prospect of six more weeks of winter weather. We were all running out of places to pile snow. Cold weather can leave some members struggling to manage their energy use and the higher bill that results.

We cannot control the weather, or count on a groundhog’s forecast, but we can control our energy usage. Two very effective tools for managing energy usage are conservation and energy efficiency. Wells Rural Electric Company’s (WREC) informational materials and programs often link these two terms, but there are important differences.

Conservation is achieved when changes to our everyday actions, like adjusting the thermostat setting or only running full loads of laundry, reduces our energy usage and, therefore, your bill. A great resource for conservation strtegies is touchstoneenergy.com.

Improvements in energy efficiency help reduce energy usage by utilizing devices that perform the same task with less energy. Purchasing and installing an Energy Star clothes washer provides clean clothes with less energy.

To further illustrate the difference, let’s consider lighting. Conservation would be remembering to turn the light off or opening blinds to replace electric light with sunlight. Energy efficiency would be installing a motion sensor switch so you don’t have to remember to shut the light off. You can also replace incandescent lightbulbs with high-efficiency LED’s.

Shop for energy efficient products locally. If you don’t find what you need, click the Conservation Central tab on wrec.coop for access to a broad range of energy-efficient lighting choices, water heaters, showerheads and smart power strips.

As the weather turns warmer, many of us will be starting projects outside. Most of WREC’s power lines are energized at 24,900 volts. If you are trimming trees, moving ladders or using tall equipment, look up and live! If you are digging, even something a simple as planting trees and shrubs, call 811.

It’s risky to make assumptions about the location of underground utilities. The depth of utility lines vary, and there may be multiple utilities in a common trench. Digging without calling can result in serious injuries to you and those around you. It can also disrupt service to an entire neighborhood and result in fines or repair costs. For safety’s sake, please call before you dig. It’s simple, easy, convenient and it’s the law.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

February 2017

The concept of “disruption” is finding its way into nearly every discussion about the way your cooperative provides electricity to its members. Disruption can occur on several fronts.

One is the emergence of technologies that give consumers the ability to get some or all of their electricity from sources other than their local electric company. Other examples include account management by a third party and direct wholesale market purchases.

Battery storage is an example of a “disruptive technology”. Battery design is advancing to the point that some researchers think we are just a few years away from systems that could store solar energy for use at night, essentially enabling consumers to move off the grid.

While we can debate the likelihood of a technological breakthrough that would replace poles, wires and power plants, there is no question that our business is being challenged as consumers take a more active role in choosing their source of electricity, reducing their electricity consumption and adopting innovative ways to manage their accounts.

Challenges are nothing new to Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC). In fact, WREC was formed to meet the challenge of providing electricity to communities no other company was willing to serve. Our history of solving past challenges provides a solid foundation for meeting the challenges of the future. For the past several months, your Board of Directors and staff have been developing plans to serve your rapidly changing needs. Through our strategic planning process, we established seven goals to chart a course for the next five years. The goals provide a vision of the future. We will reach those goals through initiatives, programs and projects that focus on our members year after year. Those goals include:

  1. Enable WREC members to control their use and develop rates to ensure that WREC can meet its financial obligations.
  2. Develop policies that protect WREC’s financial strength should unforeseen load reductions occur.
  3. Develop recommendations to maintain adequate voltage and capacity.
  4. Continue to achieve a high degree of reliability through operational planning, construction and system analysis.
  5. Develop an assessment of wholesale power supply needs under the current contract with Bonneville Power Administration through 2028, and beyond.
  6. Define and develop programs and services that meet member needs.
  7. Demonstrate a Culture of Safety within WREC and its membership.

While we work toward these long­term goals, we will remain focused on our daily commitment to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

January 2017

A knife is a very simple tool. It’s just a blade and a handle. Despite that simplicity, a knife has incredible versatility, from peeling an apple or cutting a steak to carving wood or removing a splinter. A knife’s usefulness depends largely on your needs.

A cooperative is a very simple concept. It’s just a group of people working together for mutual benefit. Despite that simplicity, a cooperative is incredibly versatile and powerful, from processing and marketing cranberries or milk to providing trustworthy childcare or banking services.

Your electric cooperative, Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC), is like the Swiss Army knife of cooperatives. WREC does as many things as that iconic red knife and, like the tweezers hidden in a notch in the case, you might not be aware of all of its functions.

Wholesale Power Purchases – To meet your need for electricity, WREC purchases electricity from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and from the wholesale power markets. WREC uses its membership in another cooperative, Northwest Energy Management Services, to leverage the buying power of other cooperatives across the Pacific Northwest to secure the best pricing.

Aggregation – Wholesale power markets sell in large quantities called megaWatts (mW). According to the Energy Information Administration, one mW is enough electricity to power about 680 homes. WREC forecasts the amount of electricity we expect all of our members to use and makes that purchase. Contracts are in place to purchase electricity on your behalf until 2028. Like buying products in bulk, buying electricity for all of our members as a group allows WREC to secure better pricing for individual members than they probably could negotiate on their own.

Transmission – Preparing a forecast and buying wholesale power is only a small piece of the puzzle. Only a small fraction of the electricity we consume is produced within our service territory. The rest must be delivered over hundreds of miles of transmission line owned by other companies like BPA, Idaho Power and NV Energy. Long standing contracts are in place to ensure reliable delivery of wholesale electricity.

Distribution – Wholesale electricity is delivered to WREC at 138,000 volts. WREC’s substations convert 138,000 volts to 24,900 volts and our distribution power lines deliver it to your neighborhood, where transformers convert 24,900 volts to 240 volts for most homes and 480 volts for most businesses.

Reliability – The complex network that delivers electricity to you needs periodic upgrades or replacement, routine maintenance and occasional repairs. We are proud to report a 99.994% reliability rating.

WREC also provides energy efficiency programs and rebates, electrician services, automated account management, economic development, sponsorships for community organizations and programs for low ­income members. We are always looking for opportunities to serve you better and provide greater value for your energy dollar.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer