CEO’s Message

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

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – July 2023

Representing You

Headshot of Clay Fitch
I’m confident our friends and neighbors hold a wide range of opinions on the success of the 2023 session of the Nevada Legislature. During the regular session, and the 2 special sessions that followed, your elected representatives considered 1,239 proposed changes to Nevada law. In terms of impact on members of Wells Rural Electric Company, one bill stood apart.

Assembly Bill 321 was a collaborative effort by electric utilities across the state to ensure electricity is available to you every hour of every day. The bill enacts sentencing enhancements for assault or battery of a utility employee who is on the job and wearing identification and prohibits trespassing, vandalism or destruction of critical utility infrastructure. Further, the bill imposes criminal and civil penalties for violations. It’s an important step in protecting your access to reliable electricity in the wake of threats to utility employees locally and attacks on substations in other states.

WREC’s allies in the Nevada Rural Electric Association worked diligently to draft the proposal, find a sponsor and guide the bill through both houses of the legislature. After careful consideration, the people elected to represent you in the Senate and Assembly passed the bill unanimously. Bipartisan support has become rare in politics and unanimous support underscores the importance of preserving reliable electric service. Additional information about the legislative session is on page 28.

Closer to home, the annual election of friends and neighbors to represent you on the board of directors is well underway. Nominations closed June 26, making this the best time to inform all members that the eligibility criteria for the 2024 election has changed.

WREC has always published the eligibility criteria as part of the notice of nominations. However, questions arise during every election and minor changes to the bylaws are made to clarify procedures. Despite those changes, questions about eligibility have become more common. For example, if 2 tenants share a rental property and are paying equal portions of the monthly electricity bill, are both tenants members and therefore eligible to run for the board of directors? Is eligibility affected if only one tenant opened the account in their name? As you can imagine, these questions can become even more complicated and sensitive when eligibility questions shift from tenants to members of families and owners of businesses.

After extensive review of applicable laws, and best practices from other electric cooperatives across the nation, your board of directors decided the simple solution is the best solution. In future elections, only members, or joint members, who are listed by name on the account and who are residents of the service territory will be eligible for nomination. If you are considering running for the board and are not currently listed on the account, discuss adding your name with the current account holder and contact your local office to make changes, if necessary. Residency will be determined by comparing the physical address on your driver’s license, or other legally recognized form of identification, to the service address on the account.

These changes are intended to ensure fair elections, and keep governance of your cooperative transparent and focused on protecting the interests of all members. If you have any questions or comments, please contact your local office.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Office

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – June 2023

Nominations Open for WREC Board

Headshot of Clay FitchNominations for four seats on the Wells Rural Electric Company Board of Directors open Monday, June 12, 2023.

Director seats subject to election are currently held by Gerald Anderson, Lois Nannini, Bruce Widmer and Kirk Dahl.

Nominations must be made on the 2023 board of directors election nomination form available at www.wrec.coop and all WREC offices. All mandatory questions must be answered for the nomination to be valid.

Any member who has not violated the company’s rates, rules, regulations or policies more than twice in the 12 months prior to June 26, 2023, may be nominated for director using the approved form.

The nomination form must be signed and dated by the nominee, who must verify their member- ship by providing the name on the account and contact information.

Nominees must not have any felony convictions within seven years prior to June 12, 2023. The nominee must be of legal voting age prior to June 12, 2023.

The nominee must be a member, spouse of a member or a local officer, director, partner, official or manager of an entity that is a member. An entity is a partnership, corporation, limited liability company, firm, association, business trust, personal trust, body politic or subdivision thereof, or other multiple ownership-type business structures.

Documentation demonstrating the nominee is authorized to represent the entity is required.

No more than one person from any one membership may serve on the board.

The nominee, or nominee’s entity, must not have an unpaid account with WREC that is outstanding for more than 90 days. The nominee, or nominee’s entity, must not have an account written off as a bad debt by WREC within seven years prior to June 12, 2023.

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 the company.

The nominee must not be a current employee of WREC or a former employee within 5 years prior to June 26, 2023.

The nominee, or nominee’s entity, must not have been the subject of a Ruralite feature story article since February 26, 2023.

Completed nomination forms must be received by General Counsel Lauren Landa by 5 p.m. PST Monday, June 26, 2023. Return completed forms to 530 Idaho St., Elko, NV 89801; P.O. Box 1358, Elko, NV 89803; Email Laura Landa; or 775-738-4220 (fax). It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure receipt of the nomination. Late nominations will not be placed on the ballot.

To be eligible for election, nonincumbent nominees must attend a mandatory informational work- shop at WREC headquarters, 1451 Humboldt Ave. in Wells, at 11 a.m. PST on Thursday, June 29, 2023.

Additional information—including years of WREC membership, occupation and years on WREC’s board—may be included. Education and training credentials—not more than 300 characters and spaces—also may be included. WREC reserves the right to edit.

The nominee may include a photograph suitable for use in the ballot package.

General counsel determines eligibility of nominees. Documentation confirming qualifications is required by 5 p.m. PST Monday, June 26, 2023.

For more information, email Lauren or call (775) 738-8091.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Office

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – May 2023

Doing the Right Things

Headshot of Clay FitchThe strength of your cooperative lies within its team.

A team is often defined as a group of people working together for a common purpose. For your employee team at Wells Rural Electric Company, 1 of our key purposes is to serve our members with safe, reliable, affordable and carbon-free electricity. Beyond that purpose, we have worked to push ourselves to grow, think outside the box, communicate respectfully, work collaboratively, keep our word and operate within an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. This is expected of everyone, including me.

The team dedicated to representing your interests—the board of directors—is adamant that we do the right things. The policies the board adopts, the affordable rates you pay for electricity, and the strategic plan and annual budgets all reflect that commitment.

Early in my career, I was asked about the difference between a manager and a leader. At the time, I came up with a few examples, but I didn’t have a solid understanding of the difference. This conversation led to an influential colleague telling me that managers are fairly easy to find, but true leaders are hard to come by.

How could this be? Through further conversation, ups and downs, personal reflection and studying management experts like Jim Collins, I learned managers do things right, but leaders do the right thing. Since then, I have worked to improve myself and those around me, knowing leadership skills take work and practice. We are not perfect, and this change does not happen overnight, but we continually work to improve ourselves as we strive to do the right things for you, our members.

I often use this column to report what we are doing right, from achieving another flawless annual financial audit to holding electric rates flat since 2018, paying out more $690,936 in capital credits and investing approximately $2 million into infrastructure through a construction work plan that continually improves our distribution system. I have also shared information with you about things that are going well but are still cause for concern, such as vegetation management and wildfire mitigation; legislative and regulatory over-reach; the movement to breach hydroelectric dams; and, most importantly, your safety as you use electricity or come near our power lines.

Working in a member-owned, locally controlled, not-for-profit electric cooperative has many benefits. Your board and cooperative team work hard to improve and deliver results now and into the future. While there is still much to be done, we are working to do the right things when it comes to providing safe, affordable, reliable and carbon-free electricity.

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – April 2023

Energy-Efficiency Programs

When you woke up today, what were some of the first things you did? Check your texts or social media, click on a news feed, turn on a light, or get the coffee pot going? We all have different daily schedules, but there is one thing we all likely have in common within our routine: using electricity.

Electricity is involved in so much of our day that we do not always think about how often we use it. Last year, Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) members bought 755,383,863 kilowatt-hours (kWh). We expect this figure to rise as new loads are connected and the need for electricity increases to support emerging technologies in our rapidly changing world.

As WREC plans for future growth, we recognize the important role energy efficiency plays in how we use electricity. Not only is saving energy beneficial for our environment as it reduces pollution and conserves natural resources, it also helps consumers save money on their electric bills and creates job opportunities.

WREC promotes energy conservation through our residential and commercial energy-efficiency programs. In 2022, the total member kilowatt-hours saved through energy efficiency from new projects—residential, commercial and irrigation—was more than 765,811 kWh. Through these programs, our team of dedicated energy-efficiency professionals assists members with specific energy needs, determining how conservation measures can be implemented so members can save energy and money—$51,866 in 2022 alone.

For our residential members, we offer a weatherization program that includes rebates for Energy Star replacement windows, duct sealing and insulation. Residential members can take advantage of energy incentives and savings through our heat pump program, the purchase of Energy Star appliances, heat pump water heaters and smart thermostat installations.

Our energy-efficiency programs extend to commercial and irrigation members as well. Programs include rebate offers and savings through lighting, HVAC systems, refrigeration and specialized energy savings—including variable frequency drives for pump motors and sprinkler efficiency upgrades.

Energy efficiency has the added benefit of maximizing the capacity of the infrastructure that delivers safe, reliable, affordable, and clean energy to your homes and businesses. According to the Energy Information Administration, the average U.S. household uses 10,632 kWh annually. Energy efficiency achievements could allow WREC to connect 72 additional homes using existing generation capacity.

As summer nears, expect to see hardworking line crews upgrading power lines throughout our service territory to meet that growing demand. We always look forward to talking to our members, but if our crews work in your neighborhood, be sure to stay out of the construction zone.

I encourage you to explore our energy-efficiency programs and energy-conservation tips to see how you can save. For more information, visit wrec.coop or call your local WREC office using the contact information on the left margin to discuss project eligibility with one of our energy service member advocates.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Office

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – March 2023

Don’t Fall Victim to Utility Scams

Headshot of Clay FitchEvery day, millions of Americans are targeted by scammers through phone calls, emails, text messages, online or in person. Scammers’ tactics can change daily, so it’s important for consumers to stay on top of the latest scam reports from local and national news outlets and your local utility companies.

In mid-February, several Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) members were targeted through a phone scam where the scammers demanded immediate payment and threatened to shut off power. Remember, if your account becomes delinquent, you will receive a reminder by mail or email, and there will be a past-due balance on your next bill. You will also receive an automated call asking you to contact your local office. WREC will never call you and demand immediate payment without prior notice.

We want you to be aware of 3 trending scam tactics. One is the overpayment trick, where a scammer contacts you and claims you have overpaid your utility bill. The scammer will say they need your personal banking information to deposit the credit to your checking account. Don’t fall for this scam! If you overpay on your energy bill, WREC will automatically apply the credit to your account, which will carry over to your next billing cycle.

Another trending scam comes as a text. Many consumers know to watch for suspicious emails, but we tend to trust text messages sent to our smartphones. Always question suspicious texts, especially from someone claiming to represent a utility. WREC will only send you important updates via text if you’ve signed up for our SmartHub app.

Most recently, a person pretending to be a WREC employee called members and threatened that their power would be shut off if they didn’t pay by calling a toll-free number. When one member said they would call the local office, the scammer falsely claimed that the phone number had changed. Scammers keep changing their approach, so watching for any red flags is important. If you receive a call claiming to be WREC that you aren’t expecting, please contact your local office using the phone numbers published on this page.

Here are a few reminders on how to take control of the situation when a scammer has targeted you:

Take your time. Utility scammers try to create a sense of urgency so that you’ll act fast and hand over personal information, especially over the phone. Take a moment to think about the situation before acting.

Be suspicious. Scammers typically request immediate payments through prepaid debit cards or third-party apps. Unusual requests like this should raise red flags. Remember, if the request seems strange and out of the ordinary, you’re likely being targeted by a scammer.

Confirm before you act. If you’re contacted by someone claiming to represent WREC or another utility, but you’re unsure, hang up the phone and call the utility directly. Our increasingly connected world provides scammers more opportunities to connect with unsuspecting consumers. Be vigilant, and please report any utility scams to WREC so we can let others in our community know. Together, we can help prevent our friends and neighbors from being victimized.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Office