CEO’s Message

Manager's Message

Nominations Open for WREC Board

Nominations Open for WREC Board

Nominations for 3 seats on the Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) Board of Directors (Board) open on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. Nominations close at 5 pm PST on Tuesday, June 25, 2024.

Director seats subject to election are currently held by Tony Macias, Ouida Madison, and Bob Wilcox.

Nominations must be made on the 2024 Nomination Form available during the nomination period at the WREC website and all WREC offices. All mandatory questions must be answered for the nominee to be eligible.

The person must be of legal voting age prior to the close of nominations.

The person must, for at least 1 year prior to the close of nominations, and while a Director, be receiving electric service and be listed on the account at the person’s residence. The residence of a person with reference to the person’s eligibility is the person’s actual residence within the service territory, during all the period for which residence is claimed and is the address listed on person’s driver’s license, or government-issued photo identification (ID). An affidavit from the person attesting to the person’s residency shall be required. No more than 1 person from any 1 membership may serve on the Board at a time.

A person must not have been adjudged to be guilty of a felony within the prior 7 years.

A person is not qualified to be nominated if such person is a current employee or a former employee of the Company who retired or was dismissed within a period of 5 years prior to the date of closing of nominations.

Persons who have an unpaid account with the Company which has been outstanding for more than 90 calendar days, or who have had an obligation to the Company written off as a bad debt are not eligible to be nominated.

Any person nominated, but who has not previously served on the Board, is required to attend an informational workshop to be held at WREC headquarters, 1451 Humboldt Avenue, Wells, Nevada, on Tuesday, July 2, 2024, at 11 a.m. PST. Reasonable travel expenses of the nominee to attend the informational workshop shall be paid by the Company.

No person who is featured in the Company Ruralite Magazine shall be eligible for election to the Board until 6 months have elapsed between the date of publication of the featured article and the last date to cast a vote for the Board in any election year.

The nominee must not be engaged in, employed by, materially affiliated with, or have a material financial interest in an individual or entity directly or substantially competing with WREC or possessing a substantial conflict with WREC.

Nominations must be received by emailing General Counsel Lauren Landa at 530 Idaho Street, Elko, NV 89801; P.O. Box 1358, Elko, NV 89803; or 775-738-4220 (fax) by 5 p.m. PST Tuesday, June 25, 2024. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure receipt of the nomination. Late, or ineligible nominations will not be placed on the ballot.

The General Counsel determines the eligibility of nominees. For more information, email the General Counsel or call (775) 738-8091.

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – May 2024

Don’t Overlook Electrical Safety

Clay R. Fitch

At Wells Rural Electric Company, we frequently refer to our core business function as providing members with safe, reliable, affordable, and carbon-free electricity. 3 of those phrases are heavily talked about because, for several reasons, they are top of mind for us and our members.

When it comes to affordability, we get questions about bills each month. Cost is something most of us are conscious of on a day-to-day basis. When it comes to reliability, there is no mistaking when the power goes out. The recent political landscape has also placed a spotlight on the carbon-free part of that statement that is inescapable in the media.

Safe is sometimes too easy to overlook until a problem presents itself, but there is a reason it is first on the list.

In our industry, safety is life. When you make a mistake in the high-voltage environments our lineworkers work in daily, the outcome can be fatal. For that reason, our lineworkers are highly trained, and they discuss safety on a daily basis. They have meetings, known as tailboards before they start on every project to discuss how the work needs to be done and the potential hazards so everyone is on the same page.

During my career, I’ve sat in too many conferences listening to other CEOs talk about the tragedies they have experienced at their utilities when something goes wrong. I don’t even want to imagine 1 of our employees not coming home to their families. The same goes for our members. We want you to be safe as well.

May is National Electrical Safety Month. I hope you will see some of our communications— including in this issue of Ruralite—or somebody else’s, and give them a few moments of your attention that could come in handy when an electrical hazard or problem is suddenly staring you in the face.

For example, do you know what to do if your car strikes a power pole and comes in contact with a power line? First off, if you ever come across a downed line or equipment, treat it as if it is energized. Electricity has no sound or smell and it is always better to stay a safe distance away and call 911.

Similarly, if you are in a vehicle that strikes a power pole and causes lines to come down, do not get out of your vehicle. Electricity is always looking for a path to ground and, if lines are in contact with your vehicle, that path may be your foot when you step out. If your vehicle is smoking or on fire and you must escape, you want to hop out and away from the vehicle and land on both feet, then shuffle or hop to safety.

That is 1 of many situations most of us don’t think about, yet knowing what to do can save lives.

Electricity is a wonderful necessity that powers our lives. It is also something that needs to be respected. Do not allow safety to be something you overlook. I hope you will spend some time this month, and every month, reading and learning habits that could save a life.

Best wishes,

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – April 2024

Clay R. Fitch

Sometimes the greatest ability is availability. Or, in this industry, reliability.

For all the talk about keeping rates affordable, cost is not the No. 1 priority in most industry surveys. That distinction goes to reliability.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Cost matters. At Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC), we work hard to keep rates as affordable as we can in our cost-based model. But availability matters more. Electricity fuels our lives, connects us with loved ones, and powers most of our entertainment, not to mention keeping us warm or cool. In today’s world, electricity is a near-necessity.

While we are always looking for ways to improve, I am proud of WREC’s reliability record. We’ve upgraded our technology in recent years to better monitor and track our reliability. I’m happy to say WREC’s reliability, in terms of average outage minutes per member, exceeds both state and national averages.

But notice I didn’t say it was perfect.

As much as I wish I could say we’re working toward zero outages, that’s not realistic. Some outages are inevitable, especially in our area where maintaining reliability is a challenge. For starters, WREC exists at the edge of the Columbia River Basin and, as a result, at the end of the transmission lines that deliver power to our service territory. Whether there’s a problem between point A and point B (or, more accurately, point Z) or necessary maintenance, transmission outages are often out of our control.

Once electricity gets to us, we face a new set of challenges. Most cooperatives exist because their members were too spread out to be profitable for investor-owned utilities to serve. In WREC’s case, we maintain more than 1,000 miles of energized line spread through more than 10,000 square miles of service territory. That’s a lot of ground to cover, and, because of the terrain and sparse population, most of our members are radially fed. That means the more rural and farther from the substation you live, the more likely you are to experience an outage if there is a problem. In a radially fed system, any fault between the substation and your home could affect your service. If you live 100 miles away from the substation, any issue along the way affects your power.

Our rural members need to be prepared for occasional outages. When you live in a rural area, some outages are inevitable no matter how advanced monitoring technology or extensive preventive maintenance may be.

Thankfully, we have great crews who go to great lengths to avoid as many outages as possible. You may have noticed tree trimming trucks moving through your area the last several weeks to clear rights-of-way and remove problem foliage. We are constantly patrolling power lines looking for potential problem spots. Each year, we budget for projects to remove, replace, or repair damaged and aging equipment.

Finally, the power is most likely to go out during times of extreme weather when it’s the most inconvenient to be without. In this area, that typically means wildfire season or winter when high winds, moisture, and freezing temperatures create all kinds of problems. When your power goes out in the midst of a storm, rest assured that WREC’s team of excellent lineworkers is prepared to leave the warmth of their own homes to go out in those extreme conditions and work at all hours to make sure your access to electricity is restored as quickly as possible.

Best wishes,
Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – March 2024

Details Matter

Clay R. Fitch

Often, it is hard to make informed or good decisions without understanding the nuance and complexities—the details—surrounding a topic. This is true for many things, but it is particularly true in the utility world.

From power supply to transmission and distribution to the cooperative difference, our industry is incredibly nuanced. Fortunately, we have developed employees and strategic partners who specialize in understanding those nuances to best serve you, our members.

However, details are often lost. We live in a society where communication is limited to 280 characters or the expectation that a picture really can say a thousand words. I certainly recognize the benefits of sharing our lives and staying connected with people regardless of our physical distance, but our collective attention spans are shrinking. We are losing our appetite for crucial details.

Details were at the forefront when it came to the Biden administration’s agreement over the operation of the lower Snake River dams during a hearing of the House’s Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security on January 30. I would not expect anybody to crave watching 4 hours of a Congressional hearing, but I thought there were some key details worth sharing:

  • Supporters of the agreement believe all voices were included during the process and that is technically correct. There were listening sessions and comment periods at the front end where all parties, including WREC, were allowed to participate. Those opportunities, however, had little to do with the final agreement. When it came time for actual negotiations, our interests, as well as those of the ports and shipping industries and the agricultural industry, were cut out. 6 of the 8 states served by Bonneville Power Administration’s dam system were also not included when it mattered.
  • The dams impact fish survival. But so do warming ocean conditions, predation from non-native species, and pollution. Many of the salmon runs considered in crisis do not pass through dams. We have willingly participated in 1 of the most comprehensive wildlife mitigation plans in the country. We want to do what’s best for fish and the rivers but we want those plans to be based on good science. We don’t think this qualifies.
  • The agreement does not include the removal of the dams. Only Congress has that authority. However, there are stipulations for their operation that would remove their economic viability, forcing Congress’ hand. Many of the agreement participants have celebrated it as a pathway to breaching the dams.
  • 1 heartening observation was the acknowledgment from all sides of the committee that the hydro dams are a vital resource to the region. While other forms of renewable energy are part of the solution, also acknowledged by the entire subcommittee, they are not replacements for the dispatchable generation—generation that can be ramped up or down at a moment’s notice to meet demand around the clock—offered by hydropower dams.

Fortunately, the public utility world had a representative on the panel. I have to say, National Rural Electric Association Executive Director Jim Matheson did a fantastic job representing all the above points and many more. I’m glad the members of the subcommittee had a well-informed advocate for public power to provide some of the proper context for a potentially harmful agreement.

Sometimes, the devil really is in the details.

Best wishes,

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – February 2024

Technology Tools of the Trade

Clay R. Fitch

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Generally, speaking in cliches, such as the one above, doesn’t provide much insight. Yet, as I reflect on my career at Wells Rural Electric Company, I continue to come back to how true that particular cliche actually rings. I’m astonished at the ways, for better and worse, technology has changed and shaped modern society and our everyday lives. We carry supercomputers in our pockets, and there seem to be screens everywhere. Data and information have never been more readily available. I find technology to be most fulfilling when it helps me strengthen those traditional relationships with family and loved ones or be more efficient so I have more time for the people and activities I’ve always loved.

The same is true for your electric cooperative.

Securing access to an affordable, reliable power supply and making sure we can get it delivered to our service territory remains the largest challenge of our day-to-day job. The arguments may have changed, but we remain ever-vigilant of legislative and regulatory issues that could wreak havoc on our business. On the member side, for all the discussion about keeping electricity affordable, making sure the lights turn on when you flip the switch remains the priority for most members. That’s where we hope the advances in technology can help us address those time-honored challenges.

We, too, have access to more data, feedback, and information than we’ve ever had before, particularly when it comes to system performance. Your employees have done an excellent job putting that information to use to shape our yearly planning and preventive maintenance projects. We still adhere to the philosophy that the best kind of outage is the one you avoid. We effectively use technology to identify potential problem areas and replace equipment or improve our distribution system before issues become critical and create outages. I’m proud of the way our crews have used data to reduce the number of distribution outages—those that occur within our system—across the service territory. This fall, we launched new outage management technology that is going to provide us with even better data to continue improving our efficiency.

Most of our power interruptions are transmission outages that occur between the generation source before the power reaches our distribution lines. Time cannot change geography, and we still remain at the end of the Pacific Northwest’s transmission system. That means occasional outages are just part of doing business in a rural area.

To that end, we hope we can use technology to help you better prepare and manage those times when the power does go down. The same outage management tool I mentioned above also notifies you when your power goes out and provides updates on whether you are home or not. I believe it’s a great resource that provides practical benefits for both employees and members.

There are other new tools and capabilities on the horizon that will continue to give you more power to control your energy use. As WREC has always done, we’re excited to continue maximizing new technology and provide you with new tools and resources that improve the quality of your service and lives.

Best wishes,

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – December 2023

The Power of Your Voice

Clay R. Fitch

Last month, Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) celebrated its 65th birthday. Contrary to popular belief, I have not worked at WREC for quite that long, but I have been here long enough to say with confidence that we have always proven the slogan “More Powerful Together” to be true.

In the beginning, a group of farmers and ranchers came together to secure funding to form a cooperative to build the power lines for electricity they desperately needed. More recently, we’ve asked you, our members, to act on legislative and regulatory issues with potentially dire consequences. For several months, we’ve asked you to send letters to our federal representatives. Hundreds of members have responded to that call. Here’s an update on the effectiveness of your efforts.

We rarely ask for such participation but, in this case, we think it’s warranted. After an exhaustive, comprehensive Congressional process involving all major stakeholders determined that removing the Lower Snake River dams was not feasible at this time, we were hopeful the matter was settled for the foreseeable future after 2-plus decades of litigation over fish populations. It was not.

The Biden Administration has started a process of its own that has focused solely and completely on the plaintiffs on this issue and has refused to sit down with port authorities, agricultural interests and, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, utilities and rate payers. While still in its beginning stages, not having a significant voice in the process has left us concerned about the future of the dams and our ability to provide affordable and reliable electricity. So we are acting before it’s too late.

As the decision to remove the dams would require an act of Congress, your letters have targeted Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen and Representative Mark Amodei. Because the Federal Columbia River Power System is thought of as a resource of the Pacific Northwest and not northern Nevada’s high desert, we want our representatives to know the dams are vital to regional reliability and our local economies. Our hope is they’ll be prepared to advocate and fight for our best interests when the time comes.

All 3 representatives have responded. I visited Washington, D.C., in July with a group of public power representatives. Representative Amodei was quick to offer his support to our cause if and when needed. He has a long history of advocating on our behalf.

We hosted Senator Cortez Masto in Wells in August as she traveled through northern Nevada on her way back to Washington, D.C. She was adamant that she would not support dam removal without a viable replacement for the lost electricity. There isn’t a replacement now nor is there 1 on the horizon. The following week, she met with then-Deputy Interior Security Tommy Beaudreau and discussed the issue. She was told the process was still in the early phases and that any action on the dams would require a plan to address the lost electricity. Just as the senator was a driving force in passing the most recent mining bill, our hope is that she’ll be equally active on this issue if needed. Senator Rosen also responded, sending an aid to Wells to meet with employees and board members to discuss the issue.

It remains too early to know about the ultimate outcome of our efforts. At the very least, they were enough to earn positive responses from all 3 federal representatives. If you haven’t done so already, you can still submit a letter. Moving forward, it will be important for all of us to monitor the situation and continue to build positive relationships with our representatives.

Best wishes,

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – November 2023

Rallying Our Community

Clay R. Fitch

I am not sure anyone could have envisioned how our uses for electricity would grow and change when 14 homes in Clover Valley were energized for the first time on December 7, 1960. Who could have guessed there would eventually be so many homes and such a wide variety of businesses in this area?

As I notice more electric vehicles on the road, it challenges me to imagine how many more uses for electricity there will be in the future. Developing the infrastructure to meet future energy demand is a priority for Wells Rural Electric Company, and the electric utility industry nationwide.

Providing our members with safe, reliable, affordable and clean electricity is the reason Wells Rural Electric Company exists. However, doing that job requires a lot more than building and maintaining power lines throughout our service territory. It requires political engagement. Your employees and directors meet with elected officials often to discuss critical issues. That may seem far removed from our core mission, but it is absolutely essential to serving you.

In addition to celebrating our students and schools with our friends and neighbors during our recent community rallies, we asked members to join in the discussion of another critical issue: Protecting the lower Snake River dams. As Thanksgiving approaches, one of the things I am especially grateful for is the opportunity your board of directors and employees had to meet face-to-face with you on this important issue. The strong, positive political response we received from our members was as amazing as the crowds at the community rallies! Thank you for joining us.

Nationally, wind and solar generation are being installed to provide intermittent power, yet using that power absolutely relies on hydroelectric dams to ensure reliability. We face many challenges. However, the Pacific Northwest does have one of the greatest carbon-free renewable generating systems in the country with the Columbia River hydro system. If you haven’t already, please join your fellow members, employees and directors in safeguarding reliable, affordable electricity by sharing your opinion on the lower Snake River dams with Congress by scanning the black QR code. Be ready for the next challenge by joining Voices for Cooperative Power using the green QR code.

Best wishes,

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – October 2023

Great news!

Clay R. Fitch

Social media, entertainment, texts, calls, email, news, advertising, mail and a raft of other information streams are constantly screaming for your attention. In that blizzard of information, it would be easy to miss an important fact: Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) has not had a rate increase in 6 years and expects to keep rates the same for the next two years.

In this era of inflation, rising interest rates and economic turmoil, stable rates are an incredible accomplishment!

Your dedicated board of directors and employees labor diligently to keep electricity safe, reliable, affordable and clean. I am also very grateful for your efforts to keep rates stable by paying your bills on time, engaging in energyefficiency and conservation practices, and being politically active.

Protect Your Hydropower

It’s rare for me to write about the same topic for 2 consecutive months. In fact, I haven’t addressed the same topic twice since the battle to defeat Question 3, the so-called “Energy Choice Initiative,” in the 2018 General Election. The proposal from the Biden Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality to remove four dams on the lower Snake River has many of the same flaws that plagued Question 3: it is driven by outside interests, no feasible alternatives are available, no one can demonstrate how it will work, the costs are unknown but are likely to be enormous and our members could get stuck with the bill.

On a positive note, you defeated Question 3 in 2018, and you have the power to kill this misguided proposal as well.

If you have already taken action to let our congressional representatives know that these dams are critical to maintaining your access to safe, reliable, affordable, clean energy, thank you!

25%If you haven’t told our senators and representatives that the lower Snake River dams provide electricity for 800,000 homes and are a vital component of a reliable electricity grid, please take 1 minute— literally 1 minute—to scan the QR code or check the WREC’s website to send a message to Washington, D.C.

If you want more information on this important issue, or to get more involved, contact your local office or any member of the board of directors.

Best wishes,
Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – September 2023

A Bad Idea Is Gaining Speed

Clay R. Fitch

Bill Watterson is a master at capturing universal experiences through his classic comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. By sharing the exploits of 6-year-old Calvin, and his best friend, a stuffed tiger named Hobbes, Bill reminds his readers of their own journey through life.

Bill often uses scenes where Calvin is careening down a steep hill on a sled or wagon. As Calvin dodges trees and rocks, his panicked passenger Hobbes asks if maybe, just maybe, they should slow down or perhaps take a different course. Of course, Calvin ignores this sage advice and inevitably crashes. It isn’t until Calvin has stars circling his head that he recognizes that Hobbes had a point.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot like Hobbes. I can clearly see that a bad idea is gaining speed, but my voice alone isn’t enough to prevent the inevitable crash.

Yet another proposal to breach the lower Snake River dams is barreling down the hill and your access to safe, reliable, affordable, and clean electricity could be headed for a crash. But you can avoid that crash by raising your voice to oppose a proposal by President Joe Biden’s Council on Environmental Quality to ignore decades of peer-reviewed science and move forward with removing the dams.

Decades of mitigation and recovery programs have restored returning adult and migrating juvenile salmon populations to levels that exceed the number of fish counted before the dams were constructed. Advocates for dam removal claim that the only way to prevent the extinction of endangered species of salmon and steelhead is to breach the dams. But the problem isn’t the dams. In contrast, salmon populations in rivers without any dams are falling even as lower Snake River fish populations rebound.

Recently, I made yet another trip to Washington, D.C., with other electric utility industry representatives to defend your access to affordable electricity. I’m pleased to report that your federal representatives and senators understand the importance of affordable electricity to you but the anti-dam forces are loud and persistent.

We’ve been showcasing the benefits of hydro on pages 28 and 29 for the last several months. By now, you should have also received a letter from me in the mail sharing greater details about the importance of these dams and making the same ask I’m about to make here. You can also read the message on page 28.

When I coached high school basketball, there was often talk of “home court advantage” but I think it is misnamed. The court was never an advantage, but the crowd was. When the game was tight, my teams would play just a little harder when the crowd got loud. If you think of our elected representatives as your team, they need the crowd to get loud. Please raise your voice against this misguided proposal to remove the lower Snake River dams by scanning the QR code with your phone. The QR code will take you to a website set up by Wells Rural Electric Company’s strategic partner Northwest RiverPartners, which leads a diverse coalition of river users to oppose dam removal. The website lets you send a message to Nevada’s entire congressional delegation quickly and easily.

Please take action today!

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – August 2023

Years of planning led to the installation of cutting-edge technology in the Wells substation, which will improve power quality and reliability for years to come.

We knew outages would be required to install the new equipment. Unfortunately, supply chain issues and the availability of specialized crews delayed construction, and those power outages had to be scheduled in less than ideal times.

As summer temperatures soar, I hope memories of those outages in the dead of winter are melting away. Before those memories fade completely, I want to share the benefits you will see thanks to your patience during those outages.

Some equipment replaced during the outages had been serving our friends and neighbors since 1958, while other equipment was installed in 1984. Although the equipment still worked as designed, so much has changed in the way we consume electricity that upgrades were becoming critical.

Please bear with me as I use a bit of industry jargon to explain the project and its benefits. Wells Rural Electric Company buys wholesale electricity from Bonneville Power Administration. Idaho Power Company delivers power from BPA to WREC over its transmission lines, which stretch over hundreds of miles. Voltage losses increase with distance. WREC persuaded IPCo to install state-of- the-art dynamic capacitors in the local substation to compensate for voltage loss and increase capacity. Dynamic capacitors help maintain constant voltage levels by adjusting to changing demand for electricity and rising temperatures instantaneously.

Before this substation upgrade, WREC’s highly-trained line crews manually switched capacitors on and off seasonally. This process worked well but increasingly sensitive electronic equipment—as well as your growing demand for electricity—requires more frequent adjustments that are better controlled by an automated system. This project also increased the capacity of the substation, enabling WREC to serve future development while maintaining affordable rates for existing members.

Your employees and board of directors understand outages are inconvenient, and we do our best to minimize outages. Because this substation upgrade was built with the future in mind, we don’t expect to have outages of this magnitude again for quite some time. However, occasional scheduled outages will always be necessary to safely complete maintenance, repairs and upgrades.

As always, when outages are necessary, your employees will do their best to make sure you have the information you need to be prepared.
Best wishes for a great summer!

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Office