CEO’s Message

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message — March 2020

$883 Billion Is a Lot of Money

Headshot of Clay FitchCensus data helped 55 federal agencies decide where to spend $883,094,826,042 in 2016. That same year, Nevada received $6,219,293,623, which funded federal programs including education, rural health care, housing, transportation, Community Development Block Grants, adoption assistance and many, many more. For comparison, total state tax collections in 2016 were $8,025,046,000.

The decennial census is the once-a-decade population and housing count for all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The results of the census determine the number of seats for each state in the U.S. House of Representatives and are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

The census also measures the nation’s economy providing vital statistics for virtually every industry and geographic area in the country. For instance, census data is used to prove that the members of Wells Rural Electric Co. live in areas with a low population density. As a result, WREC qualifies for the Low-Density Discount from our wholesale electricity provider, Bonneville Power Administration, which saves you money on your electricity bill every single month.

Answering the census is safe, easy and important.

The law requires the Census Bureau to keep your information confidential and use your information only to produce statistics. To protect your safety, the Census Bureau cannot publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you. Your information will never be shared with law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI or local police, or with immigration agencies such as ICE. Census workers must pass a background check and will always have identification badges. If you have any doubts, you can contact the Census Bureau to verify their identity.

To make responding easy, households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail in mid-March with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 census. By April 1, 2020, every home will receive an invitation to participate. You can complete a census questionnaire by mail, by phone or online at 2020census.gov.

The goal of the census is to count every person once, only once and in the right place. An accurate count is so important to our communities that several local governments have formed “Complete Count Committees” to encourage every person to respond to the census.

If you haven’t completed a census questionnaire by June, census takers will go door-to-door to ensure everyone is counted. In northeastern Nevada, the Census Bureau has only been able to hire about 30% of the people needed to complete the count. If you are interested in working for the Census Bureau, additional information is available at 2020census.gov/jobs. If you are hired, the Census Bureau will provide all necessary training for free. Beware of any person who promises a job with the Census Bureau but asks you to pay for training.

As the 2020 census approaches, we will continue to share information about how you can make sure our community is fully represented. Visit 2020census.gov anytime to get the latest news.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message — February 2020

Smart Management. Smart Life. SmartHub.

Headshot of Clay FitchLife is fast and sometimes hectic, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Managing your electricity usage and account with Wells Rural Electric Co.’s SmartHub app is easy.

You may have heard about SmartHub—our innovative tool for account management. SmartHub can help you take control of your WREC account like never before, giving you more time to focus on other priorities. SmartHub has several features that make managing your account as easy as possible. Whether through the web, your smartphone or tablet—Android or iOS—you can view your usage, contact member services, pay your bill, and get the latest cooperative news anytime, day or night.

As soon as you log in, you’ll be able to view your billing history and make a payment in just a couple steps. You can review your current bill or bills from the previous month or year if you want to compare costs. Not only will you see your billing history, you can view your kilowatt-hour use, which will allow you to take steps to lower your bill. Insights from your usage history can help you determine which energy efficiency measures would have the most impact. Then use WREC’s rebates to help pay for your energy efficiency upgrades.

Making payments through SmartHub is fast and easy. The first time you make a payment, you can securely store your payment information for future transactions. The next time you need to pay your bill, it will only take a couple of clicks.

You’ll also be able to see important notices from WREC with SmartHub. You can select how you want to be notified, including e-mail and text messaging.

You can contact WREC for member service requests or with any questions you may have. A few taps on SmartHub’s contact feature make it quick and easy to let us know about your questions or concerns.

Access SmartHub by visiting www.wrec.coop or by downloading the app on your mobile device through Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

If you need assistance with any of our services, contact your local office listed to the left of this column. We are always happy to help.

Plenty of things in life are complicated. Manage your WREC account with SmartHub, and simplify your life.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message — January 2020

Changing Meanings

Headshot of Clay FitchCould it be that our world is changing so dramatically we need a new word to express our amazement every year or two?

I recently overheard a young man excitedly describing a new truck he had seen as “sick.” His enthusiasm left no doubt that “sick” meant the polar opposite of the flu. Another young man I know uses “insane” to describe things he really likes. Depending on how far back your memories go, you might have used words like “phat”, “radical,” “wicked,” “righteous,” “groovy,” “gnarly,” or even “the bomb.” Regardless of your age or the word that conveys that sense of amazement for you, there are a few things that I think are “awesome.”

Membership: Cooperatives harness the awesome power of community to bring safe, reliable, affordable and clean electricity to you. Because you—the members—own Wells Rural Electric Company, every decision we make is focused on your long-term interests.

The Board of Directors: Every year, you have an opportunity to vote in an election that determines which of your fellow members will represent you to ensure your interests are at the heart of every decision regarding policy, power supply and rate structure.

SmartHub: These days, there’s an app for everything. The SmartHub app allows you to easily track your electricity usage and manage your account.

Energy Efficiency Programs: Helping consumers use less of your primary product doesn’t make sense for most businesses, but it does when your business is a not-for-profit electric cooperative whose every decision is focused on increasing value for its members.

The Next Dollar Foundation: The power of community will be taking a big step forward in 2020. Beginning this month, your electricity bill will be rounded-up to the next dollar, and the “change” will be donated to the Next Dollar Foundation to fund much-needed community projects and education grants. If you don’t agree the Next Dollar Foundation is an awesome community resource, you can keep the change by sending an opt-out form to your local office.

Applications for project funding and education grants are available on our website. Education grants are open to graduating seniors and older students who want to further their education. For more information and to access the applications, visit www.wrec.coop/ community/next-dollar-foundation.

The New Operations Center: Your Board of Directors recently toured the new Operations Center. Construction is moving forward as planned, and the new facility will enable your employees to provide an even higher level of service. In addition to providing safer and more efficient workspaces, the new building will enhance security for materials and provide protection for valuable assets and equipment. We look forward to welcoming you into that facility when construction is finished this spring.

99.98% Reliability: Last, but far from least, excellent reliability drives our budgets, training programs and work plans. Our ever-growing reliance on technology is increasing expectations for reliability, and we think our record for reliability is absolutely awesome!

Happy New Year!

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message — December 2019

Making a Difference

Headshot of Clay FitchIn the Disney Pixar film “Up”, Carl and Ellie Fredricksen save money for their dream trip to Paradise Falls by drop-ping change into a jar. They end up breaking into the jar to deal with life’s little surprises, like medical bills from a broken leg, but as soon as an emergency passes, they resume dropping their change into a jar so they have a stash of cash when it’s important.

Think of the Next Dollar Foundation like a change jar for your whole community. For the past 24 years, some members of Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) have been dropping the change from their monthly electricity bill into the jar. When their community had a need, funds were available for projects like grass for a baseball field, medical equipment or higher education.

Funding from the Next Dollar Foundation to purchase sod allowed the Wendover Wildcats to use their baseball field right away rather than having to wait a year for grass to grow from seed.

More than 120 projects have been completed with assistance from the Next Dollar Foundation. Students with career goals as diverse as nuclear engineering and nursing have received help to pay for their education. It’s likely some of those activities have made your life better, too.

Recipients of the 2019 Next Dollar Foundation Education Grants:

Herman Dorad

Herman Dorado of West Wendover

Valerie Murphy

Valerie Murphy of Wendover

John Gamble

John Gamble of Carlin

Jade Kelly

Jade Kelly of Wells

Beginning in January, the change jar will refill faster because all members of WREC will be automatically enrolled to donate the change from their monthly electricity bills to the Next Dollar Foundation. Discussions with members found wide-spread support for the change in enrollment. I hope that such support demonstrates the value all members have seen in projects and education grants funded by the Next Dollar Foundation. More information is available on page 8, inside. If you have any questions about contributing to the Next Dollar Foundation, have an idea for a project that would improve your community, want to apply for an education grant or opt-out, please visit the Next Dollar Foundation page.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – November 2019

Headshot of Clay FitchMaking a Difference

No cold milk or hot coffee. No lights. Scrubbing clothes by hand in water heated over a fire. No Internet. No TV. It’s hard to imagine our lives without the convenience of electricity, but according to the International Energy Agency, that’s reality for 1.1 billion people worldwide.

Life without electricity was reality for much of rural America before the rural electric cooperative movement began in the 1940s. It was reality for much of Northeastern Nevada and Northwestern Utah until 1958 when Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) began providing electricity.

That rural/urban divide persists today. About 84% of people who live without electricity live in rural areas with 95% of those people living in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia.

One powerful option for bringing electricity to developing countries is forming new rural electric cooperatives. Since 1962, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International Program has brought electricity to more than 160 million people in 45 developing countries. The International Program designs and implements successful, sustainable, scalable rural electrification programs that improve education, health care, safety and economic opportunity.

The NRECA International Program is supported by charitable donations of time, money and materials from more than 300 American electric cooperatives as well as private organizations and individuals. WREC is proud to be one of the electric cooperatives providing financial assistance to bring electricity to families in developing nations. There are also hundreds of electric cooperative directors, linemen, engineers, managers and other employees who have volunteered to bring first-time access to electricity. Volunteers train staff at new cooperatives to build, maintain and operate sustainable utilities to improve the quality of life in their own communities.

Closer to home, WREC members are improving their own quality of life through the Next Dollar Foundation. Since its creation in 1995, the Next Dollar Foundation has helped local organizations, communities and schools make badly needed improvements to sports fields, playgrounds, community buildings, senior centers, libraries, clinics, museums and a host of other facilities. The Next Dollar Foundation has also helped many students continue their education beyond high school.

While these efforts have made a lasting impact on every community we serve, pressing needs remain. As you look around your community, I suspect you have ideas for projects but don’t see a way to secure funding. With your support and collaboration with a local organization, the Next Dollar Foundation could help your idea become a reality.

You might also see a need for services in your community but people with the needed skills aren’t available. You may even be thinking about going back to school to build your own skills. An education grant from the Next
Dollar Foundation might help fill those needs.

Additional information about changes to the Next Dollar Foundation appears on pages 28 and 29 inside. To learn more about projects the Next Dollar Foundation has funded in your community, submit your own project funding request, or apply for an education grant, please visit https://www.wrec.coop/community/next-dollar-foundation.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message — October 2019

Headshot of Clay FitchWhat would you do if your electricity bill suddenly went up 2,831%? Fortunately, the decision you made to vote no on Question 3 last November ensured that this is only a rhetorical question, at least for you.

But that question is all too real for consumers in Texas. In mid August, several days of temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit pushed electricity demand to a new record of 74,531 megaWatts (MW), which left a razor-thin 3% power reserve. To make matters worse, weak breezes sidelined hundreds of wind turbines. Texas usually relies on wind
generation for about one-fourth of its electricity supply. As a result, wholesale power market prices in Texas crushed a $9,000 per MW regulatory price cap. To put such a whopping price in perspective, Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) could purchase wholesale electricity from the open market in the Pacific Northwest during that same time period for $31.80 per MW. Record electricity usage also forced the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to declare an emergency. ERCOT pled with every available power plant to ramp up and every consumer to conserve.

A long-time friend of mine says that his name, Doug, is actually an acronym. Doug stands for Dumb Old Utility Guy. During the battle over Question 3, the advocates often painted the opponents as dumb old utility guys. They claimed that utilities were stuck in the past and that there was a much cheaper way to buy electricity. Texas was often cited as a shining example of the success of deregulation. To be fair, some Texans have benefited from energy choice over the past decade. This summer, however, was a horrific failure.

As we met with members throughout 2018, it was often difficult to warn of the potential dangers of Question 3 with little evidence to show that markets could go crazy. What the dumb old utility guys knew for certain was that no one had made any significant investment in base load generation or transmission in Texas since deregulation was implemented. We also knew that growth would eventually gobble up the available capacity and lead to higher prices and reduced reliability. We didn’t know that available capacity would be consumed so quickly or that markets would shoot through the stratosphere.

These unprecedented prices and slim reserves illustrate how the early retirement of large conventional power plants is straining the ability of utilities across the nation to integrate unpredictable renewable resources like wind and solar. Fortunately, dumb old utility guys even older than me made the very wise decision to invest in clean, renewable, reliable, predictable hydro electricity.

Last month, this page featured a guest editorial from Jo Elg on the numerous issues affecting salmon and steelhead populations. It was written in response to a conference focused on removing dams on the Snake River. One of the justifications for removing the dams is that they are no longer necessary because the electricity they produce can easily be replaced by wind and solar generation. If there is a lesson to be learned from Texas, it is that the hydroelectric dams are absolutely essential if society wants to successfully integrate increasing amounts of wind and solar generation.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message — August 2019

Defending Reliable Electricity

Headshot of Clay FitchBillboards along Interstate 80 urge homeowners to create “defensible space” to reduce the risk of losing their home to fire. Simply put, defensible space means managing flammable materials to prevent the spread of fire. Defensible space is an important concept not only in fire safety but in other situations.

Your electric cooperative, Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC), creates a defensible space around the power lines that serve your homes and businesses for several reasons. First and foremost, all of our power lines comply with the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) to prevent accidental contacts and to ensure that WREC delivers reliable, affordable and clean electricity in the safest way possible.

Our “Commitment To Zero Contacts” safety initiative focuses on the human factor of electrical safety. Despite our best efforts to build an electrical system that meets or exceeds the requirements of the NESC, some people make dangerous decisions that risk severe injury and even death. Commitment To Zero Contacts is designed not only to keep our line workers safe, it’s intended to keep other employees and our members safe as well.

For decades we have trimmed trees to maintain a defensible space around our power lines to prevent accidental contacts and to prevent outages. Tree trimming crews strive to maintain the beauty of the trees, but appearance is second to safety. Scorching August temperatures may make Fall seem far away, but contract crews will begin trimming trees soon.

The growing threat of catastrophic fires has motivated your Board of Directors and employees to take defensible space to a new level. For the past few years, your Board of Directors has authorized a budget that includes removing low-growing vegetation from our rights-of-way. Initially, mowing brush and weeds growing under our power lines was only intended to prevent wildfires from burning our power lines down. It has since become a way to reduce the risk of starting a fire. Studies are currently underway by federal land management agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of using right-of-way clearing to create a line of defense for fire crews. Its a concept that WREC supports because it fits with our goal to provide the most safe and reliable service possible and it could protect the homes and property of our members.

The graphic below illustrates how you can create defensible space for your own home.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Graphic displaying how to create a defensible space for your home
Defensible space is the required space between a structure and a wlidland area that, under normal conditions, creates a sufficient buffer to slow or halt the spread of wildfire to a structure. It protects the home from igniting due to direct flame or radiant heat. Defensible space is essential for structure survivability during wildland fire conditions. For more information about defensible space zones and preparedness techniques, visit the Firewise Communities website at www.firewise.org.
Manager's Message

CEO’s Message — July 2019

Headshot of Clay FitchA lot has changed since Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) built its service center in 1977. Among the greatest of those changes is how much electricity is used by the average member.

The following graphs illustrate how your not-for-profit, member- owned electric cooperative has grown to meet your changing needs.

To better serve those needs, your locally-elected Board of Directors broke ground for the new operations center June 18. Construction should begin in just a few weeks. In addition to protecting the inventory and equipment your cooperative uses, the new operations center will enhance our ability to serve you, increase efficiency, improve security and support our commitment to safety.

We appreciate the interest in the project from local contractors who submitted very competitive bids. Not only are our members getting a much-needed facility upgrade, a significant portion of the money invested in this project will stay in the local economy.

We look forward to keeping you informed about the progress of the new operations center through Ruralite, wrec.coop and on Facebook.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Energy use graph

 

Powerline graph

Number of connected accounts graph

Total energy sales in kWh

Square miles of service territory

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message — June 2019

Headshot of Clay FitchNominations for four (4) seats on Wells Rural Electric Company’s (WREC) Board of Directors open Monday, June 10, 2019. Director seats subject to election are currently held by incumbents Jon Dahl, Scott Egbert, Fred Montes De Oca and Jim Whited.

Nominations must only be made on the 2019 Board of Directors Election Nomination Form available at all WREC offices and on www.wrec.coop. All mandatory questions must be answered in order for the nomination to be valid. Completed nomination forms must be received by Gary E. DiGrazia, General Counsel, by 5:00 P. M. Pacific Time Zone on Monday, June 24, 2019. Mail the completed form to Gary E. DiGrazia, 530 Idaho Street, Elko, Nevada 89801 or P. O. Box 1358, Elko, Nevada 89803; e-mail gdigrazia@frontiernet.net; or Fax to (775) 738-4220. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure receipt of the nomination. Late nominations will not be placed on the ballot.

Any member in good standing for a minimum of one (1) year as of June 24, 2019, may nominate another eligible member, himself or herself, (“the nominee”) for Director using the approved form. The nomination form must be signed and dated by both the nominee and the person making the nomination, if other than the nominee. Nominees must verify their membership by providing their name and contact information

To be eligible for election to the Board of Directors, non-incumbent nominees must attend a mandatory informational workshop on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 1:00 P. M. Pacific Time Zone at the WREC Headquarters, 1451 Humboldt Avenue, Wells, Nevada 89835.

Nominees must not have any felony convictions within seven (7) years prior to June 10, 2019.

The nominee must be of legal voting age prior to June 10, 2019.

The nominee must be a member or 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 structure. No more than one (1) person may serve on the Board based upon any one (1) membership.

The nominee, or his/her entity, must not have an unpaid account with WREC that is outstanding for more than ninety (90) days. The nominee, or his/her entity, must not have an account written-off as a bad debt by WREC within seven (7) years prior to June 10, 2019.

The nominee must not be a current employee of WREC or a former employee of WREC within five years prior to June 24, 2019.

The nominee, or his/her entity, must not have been the subject of a Ruralite Feature Story article since February 21, 2019.

Additional voluntary information, including years of WREC membership, occupation and years on WREC Board may be included. Education and training credentials—not more than three hundred (300) characters and spaces—may also be included. WREC reserves the right to edit.

The nomination should be accompanied by a photograph of the nominee suitable for use in preparing the ballot package.

General Counsel shall determine the eligibility of each nominee.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – May 2019

Visions of the Future

Headshot of Clay FitchThe vision a handful of leaders put in motion 61 years ago makes your life more enjoyable, safer and more convenient to this day. Wells Rural Electric Company’s original Board of Directors took an enormous leap of faith when they decided to unite our communities through the creation of a rural electric cooperative to bring safe, reliable, clean and affordable electricity to you, our members.

One example of how far into the future those leaders looked is the decision to contract with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) for a long-term wholesale power supply. Senate Bill 358 is making its way through the Nevada Legislature at this very moment. If enacted, this bill will require every provider of electricity in Nevada to produce 50% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030. Because WREC’s wholesale power supply is primarily produced by hydropower, the electricity you use every day is already 84% renewable and 96% carbon-free.

Because of another long-term vision, your Board members have lobbied the Nevada Legislature for years to count hydropower as renewable. The investment of both time and money in helping elected officials understand hydropower, rural issues, local control, electric cooperatives and cost-based rates has persuaded members of the Legislature to include hydropower as a renewable resource in this mandate. As a result, your electric cooperative will be exceeding what will be a distant goal for other electric utilities, as it has for decades.

Your current Board of Directors and management team are looking far into the future as well. On Thursday evening, April 11, WREC announced an investment in the future of your cooperative. More than 50 people were present and about a dozen watched on facebook live as WREC presented plans for construction of a new operations center.

With your support, your locally-elected Board thoughtfully invests the money you entrust to them. These investments include building and maintaining the power lines that reliably deliver electricity and technology that allows you to conduct business with your cooperative at your convenience. WREC also invests in energy-efficiency improvements in your homes and businesses and in the equipment and training your employees need to serve you efficiently and affordably.

This is the perfect time to invest in a new operations center that will not only meet current needs but enable your electric cooperative to provide the excellent service you’ve come to expect well into the future. Interest rates are low, and WREC’s financial health is rock-solid. Subject to any new developments, WREC does not expect BPA to increase wholesale power costs in October. WREC has controlled its cost over the past five years. As a result, we do not foresee a need for a rate increase for the next two years, even with the investment in a new building.

We are excited to share this important step in the growth of your electric cooperative with you. Renderings of the proposed operations center appear on pages four and five inside this magazine. Video of the announcement ceremony, additional drawings and frequently asked questions are available on www.wrec.coop.

evelopments will be shared with you at community organization and local government meetings, as well as through social media, our website and coming editions of Ruralite magazine.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer