CEO’s Message

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 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

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – February 2023

Power in Planning

Headshot of Clay Fitch

Although Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) prides itself on our record of 99.9% reliability, outages can and will happen.

Outages are most often caused by unexpected equipment failure, lightning or something  contacting one of our power lines. Usually, our highly-trained crews perform maintenance with the line energized to minimize the impact on our members. When work cannot be safely completed energized, WREC faces the difficult decision of scheduling an outage.

There is never a good time for an outage and we try our best to minimize impacts. Unfortunately, the best time for an outage for one member is often the worst time for another. For instance, the best time for an outage for our schools is at night or on the weekend. In contrast, weekends are the worst time for an outage for the travel plazas, hotels, restaurants and resorts.

The outages scheduled in November and December are still on the minds of some members. Idaho Power Company (IPCo) owns the transmission line and substation that delivers wholesale electricity to the Wells area. For several years, WREC worked with IPCo to improve voltage and reliability. Those efforts led to a decision by IPCo to build a new substation with state-of-the art equipment. IPCo also decided to include the cost of the new substation in its capital budget so there was no direct cost to WREC members.

Good news often comes with bad news. In this case, the bad news was that three planned outages would be required to build the new substation.

The first outage, scheduled in July 2022, bypassed a portion of the old substation so crews could work throughout the summer. During a second outage in November, a temporary substation was installed so parts of the old substation could be rebuilt. The final outage to remove the temporary substation and connect the new substation was scheduled in December.

For the past several years, winter weather has been warmer and drier than average, but winter returned with a vengeance in early December. WREC staff made repeated requests to delay the outage until spring. Unfortunately, IPCo needed its temporary substation for other projects and couldn’t delay the outage, even a few months.

The cold weather intensified and WREC made additional pleas to delay the outage. Then on the morning that the outage was scheduled, IPCo postponed the outage until December 29 when somewhat better weather was expected.

Although postponing was the best decision at the time, we know it was a huge inconvenience to our members. We appreciate your patience and understanding during December’s outage.

Our co-op strives to provide information to help you deal with an outage. Follow WREC on Facebook for the latest information and ensure we have a valid phone number on your account. We will never disclose your contact information to an outside entity. However, a valid phone number enables WREC to deliver outage information specific to you. For the December 29 outage, we delivered a message by phone to 86% of the 1,059 affected members in about 50 minutes. This level of outreach is only possible with accurate telephone numbers so please use the SmartHub app to update your account, or contact your local office, whenever your contact information changes.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Office

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – January 2023

We Power Your Life

Headshot of Clay FitchMost of us use electricity—either directly or indirectly—around the clock. Because it is so abundant and available with the simple flip of a switch, it is easy to take for granted.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the typical U.S. household uses more air conditioning, heating, appliances and consumer electronics than ever before. The average home also contains 10 or more internet-connected devices.

Considering everything that is powered by electricity, it’s no wonder we occasionally might wince at our monthly bills. But keep in mind, it is no longer just “the light bill.” Electricity powers our quality of life. Your energy bill covers so much more than lighting. It powers the infrastructure of your home and virtually everything in it: appliances, water heater, HVAC system, smartphones, computers, TV, the Wi-Fi router and so much more.

Today, there is more demand for electricity than ever. At home, in schools and businesses, and in commercial sectors such as transportation, the need for electricity is growing.

Our electricity use tends to increase in winter months when cold temperatures and early sunsets push us indoors. After spending a lifetime in our community, it shouldn’t surprise me that we make such an abrupt shift from T-shirts to parkas. That was especially true this year after an unusually long fall abruptly turned to a harsh winter.

Typically, when demand goes up, so does cost. That is the case with most goods or services, such as vehicles or even your favorite specialty coffee. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the past 12 months, the cost of housing increased 7.1%, medical care increased 4.4%, gasoline increased 10.1% and food increased 10.6%. Nationally, the cost of electricity increased 13.1%.

Fortunately, Wells Rural Electric Company has long-term contracts in place that help shield members from spikes in the electricity markets. In fact, WREC hasn’t had a rate increase in 6 years.

Considering all the ways we depend on electricity, it remains a great value.

The next time you are enjoying your favorite podcast, TV series or movie, consider the value of electricity and how it enhances your quality of life.

We care about you, the members we serve, and understand electricity is more than a commodity. It is a necessity. That’s why Wells Rural Electric Company will continue working hard to power your life with clean electricity—safely, reliably and affordably.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Office

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – December 2022

Christmas Came Early

Headshot of Clay FitchWhile our political process certainly has challenges, sometimes a bit of common sense emerges and gives us hope.

In late 2021, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee and U.S. Senator Patty Murray announced a process to examine if reasonable means exist for replacing the benefits provided by the lower Snake River dams. These dams are a critical energy source for your electric cooperative, so we actively participated in online forums, worked with industry allies and submitted written comments.

Governor Inslee and Sen. Murray commissioned studies from outside experts to assist their decision-making. These experts confirmed what Wells Rural Electric Company and other electric cooperatives have said for years: breaching the safe, reliable, low-cost, carbon-free lower Snake River dams would cause severe rate shock for members, obliterate regional climate goals and create a high likelihood of blackouts because rapid replacement of these resources is just not practical.

After extensive review, Gov. Inslee and Sen. Murray recently released what we consider commonsense recommendations. They concluded that while it is technically possible to breach the dams, it is “not a feasible option in the near term.” Furthermore, they were adamant that before pursuing any breaching option, “the replacement and mitigation of the benefits must be pursued.”

I couldn’t have been more surprised if Santa had signed the study himself and left it in my Christmas stocking!

Governor Inslee and Sen. Murray also said U.S. Congress would need to spend approximately $31 billion to conduct a Herculean infrastructure program to replace the benefits of the lower Snake River dams. This expenditure of scarce taxpayer dollars would go a long way toward other pressing needs: repairing roads and bridges, ensuring Americans have access to broadband and delivering clean water to American families.

The debate about the lower Snake River dams is not over, and other issues are always around the corner. WREC will continue to engage in any process that affects our members and the reliability of the electric grid.

Together, as cooperative members, we need to ensure our voices are heard on energy policies that affect our ability to deliver safe, reliable, affordable, and clean power and the communities we call home. This will be especially true as the Nevada Legislature begins its 82nd session on February 6, 2023. Please join the National Rural Electric Association’s Voices for Cooperative Power and become part of a growing team of electric cooperative member-advocates working together in Nevada and across the country. Sign up today by visiting Voices for Cooperative Power.

I hope the holiday season brings equally pleasant surprises to you and the new year is filled with even greater successes.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – November 2022

A Seat at the Table

Headshot of Clay FitchThere is an adage in politics, “If you aren’t at the table, you’ll be on the menu.” Advancing the interest of our members requires your board of directors and staff to be at the table whenever issues that could affect you are debated. Often, we need you at the table as well.

The battle to defeat Question 3—also known as the Energy Choice Initiative in 2018—is a classic example. Board members and employees attended countless meetings, wrote articles, participated in interviews, produced advertising, built alliances and talked to anyone who would listen in every forum that would allow it. Ultimately, the decision was in your hands. What seemed inevitable after 72% of voters approved Question 3 in 2016 was overturned in 2018. After a hard-fought battle, 67% of voters opposed that misguided attempt to address an incredibly complex issue through a constitutional amendment.

Although there isn’t a 2022 ballot initiative aimed at electric utilities, your vote affects the future of your cooperative. From races for the Nevada Senate and Assembly to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, the choices made this November will impact how electricity is generated and how much it costs. Regardless of your party or views, I urge you to vote.

We respect our members’ opinions and recognize your interests cover the political spectrum. Given the diversity of those opinions, it would be too controversial to use the money you pay for electricity to make campaign contributions. To bridge that gap, members of your board of directors and staff make personal contributions to two nonpartisan political action committees.

The Action Committee for Rural Electrification raises funds to support candidates in federal races whose views align with rural electricity consumers’ interests. At the state level, Rural Electrification Advocates of Nevada raises funds to support like-minded candidates in Nevada Senate and Assembly races.

When the election is over, your board and staff will be at the table on your behalf. However, making sure your voice is heard requires allies. In Utah and Idaho, you are represented by the Utah Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Idaho Consumer-owned Utilities Association, where the combined strength of consumer-owned utilities influences legislative and regulatory matters.

Since 1974, the Nevada Rural Electric Association has represented the consumers served by 5 electric cooperatives, 2 power districts and one municipality. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has your back at the federal level.

When it comes to wholesale power supply, we rely on a network of associations that focus on specific issues. Northwest RiverPartners is a collaborative effort among electric utilities, sportsmen, irrigators and transportation companies that rely on the Columbia and Snake rivers and lobby for efficient river operations.

Northwest Requirements Utilities represents consumer-owned electric utilities that are all-requirements customers of Bonneville Power Administration. Consumers served by public power utilities rely on the Northwest Public Power Association and the Public Power Council to manage legislation and regulation in multiple forums across the Pacific Northwest.

While allies are important, our most valuable ally is you. Again, I encourage you to vote.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer 

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – October 2022

All of the Above

Headshot of Clay FitchMy late father-in-law taught history at Wells High School for many years. When he gave multiple choice tests, he would ensure that his students weren’t just getting by with lucky guesses by including “All of the above” among the possible answers.

For most of my career, answers to questions about wholesale power supply were largely driven by practical considerations. Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC)’s proximity to the Columbia River drainage basin made hydroelectric generation an excellent choice for safe, reliable, affordable and clean electricity. The decision to purchase our wholesale power supply from Bonneville Power Administration—which markets the 99.9% reliable, clean electricity generated by Columbia River dams—combined with consistent efforts to control costs locally, has given our members more than 50 years of affordable electricity and five years without a rate increase.

In Utah and Wyoming, abundant coal supplies made that fuel a reasonable choice for generation, while natural gas was the leading fuel supply for generation in states such as Texas. Utilities in other states opted to include nuclear power plants in their energy production. Wind and solar resources are becoming an important part of the electricity supply mix, but there are limits to how much intermittent generation can be integrated without compromising reliability and affordability.

Utilities often use a mix of generation resources to achieve the ideal combination of reliability and affordability. Essentially, many utilities—and the electric power grid in general—operate on all of the above.

The heat wave in late August illustrates the wisdom in an all-of-the-above approach. Although our members weren’t directly affected, consumers across the West were asked to reduce their energy use, especially in the late afternoons and early evenings. The need for reduced use was driven by a combination of solar production falling off as the sun sets and air conditioning and other appliance use picking up as people returned home from work. Fortunately, a mixed generation system built on a base of hydroelectricity, supported by a large-scale nuclear plant, and supplemented by wind, solar and natural gas generation was able to meet the demand.

The pressure on the grid was certainly a concern for utilities like WREC, which focus on reliability. But there was also an upside: it renewed the discussion about the importance of a diversified electricity supply mix. All of the above is being given renewed attention as a possible strategy for transitioning to a cleaner energy future, as it should.

Clay R. Fitch, CEO 

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – September 2022

Hard-Hitting Plans for Energy Resources

Headshot of Clay FitchWe’ve always heard, “You need a plan to get anything done.” That principle is taught in all business schools and is widely recognized.

My favorite quote about plans is from the noted philosopher and past world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.” In following our plans, most of us have found that to be true. We start with a plan, something goes sideways and then we work on a new strategy.

Climate movement plans—whether the Paris Accord, Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050, elimination of all fossil fuels, mandates for electric vehicles or others—are different concepts promoted by people and groups with various motives.

For instance, some people, myself included, believe nuclear power is a great substitute for fossil fuels because it is carbon-free. Other groups reject nuclear power as too dangerous, too expensive or are concerned about nuclear waste.

In addition to disjointed directions and inconsistency of climate plans, the climate movement was punched in the mouth by Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That punch drew two opposite reactions: developing more diverse supplies of fossil fuels and accelerating climate plans.

A successful plan to reduce carbon emissions must meet certain parameters and have specific economic attributes to succeed against hard hits from Russia, the weather and the economy. Current plans often demand curtailment of fossil fuels by a certain date not too far into the future and a switch to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

Unlike hydroelectric dams, fossil-fuel-fired or nuclear-powered generators, solar and wind do not have the rotating mass needed to support the stability of the electric grid.

Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) supports the need for a serious plan to ensure a successful transition. Any viable path to a carbon constrained future will require technology that attracts investment. Such investments require long horizons to recover research, development and building costs and capital.

Successful plans also must bridge and be accepted across political lines. WREC strongly supports the development of all energy sources but specifically hydro and nuclear because these resources are workable, reliable, affordable and practical compromises.

How plans are developed will dictate the direction and success of global energy policy.

Clay R. Fitch, CEO

Manager's Message

CEO’s Message – August 2022

The Reliable Energy Source to Hit Back at Inflation

Headshot of Clay FitchGlobal supply chain disruptions combined with labor shortages and skyrocketing inflation have dramatically increased the cost of goods and services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of June, the consumer price index had risen 9.1% over the past year. This is the largest increase since 1981.

Wells Rural Electric Company has not been immune to the impact of these price increases. Compounding the problem are growing supply chain delays. Some of the items WREC relies on for day-to-day operations, such as transformers, have been increasingly difficult to acquire. Lead times for new transformers—essential to bringing power to homes and businesses—have grown to more than a year in some cases.

To help offset these impacts, we are proactively managing the costs we can control and adapting our business. We recognized during the height of the pandemic that materials and manufacturing would slow, even before the explosive rise of prices and supply chain complications. We have secured additional stock of materials and equipment and formed a strategic alliance with a regional electrical equipment supply cooperative to keep our daily operations flowing smoothly and to try to minimize negative impacts to our members.

However, even the best planning is contingent on improvements in the global manufacturing and transportation sectors. We are not confident the elements impacting all aspects of supply chain issues and related cost increases will improve soon. Some indications signal we can expect the situation to extend into 2023.

Out of the darkness of the current economic situation is one bright spot: hydropower.

Because of hydropower and the dams that produce it, utilities around the Northwest—including WREC—have an edge to keep our rates competitive. Unlike the rising cost of natural gas, which powers 30% of the United States, we do not have volatile fuel costs with hydropower. That is a major reason WREC’s rates, and many in the Pacific Northwest, remain some of the most competitive in the nation.

But the state of hydropower is under constant attack. A recent draft report from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray says breaching the four lower Snake River dams to allegedly help endangered salmon populations recover and replacing the benefits the dams provide could cost up to $27 billion. While the report does not make specific recommendations on whether the dams should be breached, it still understates the considerable benefits the dams provide: safe, reliable, affordable and carbon-free hydroelectric power, flood control, irrigation, low-carbon transportation benefits and regional power adequacy.

At a critical juncture in our nation’s history, maintaining clean and affordable power is paramount to ensure our local economy and livelihoods. While there are challenges ahead, we should celebrate and defend hydropower as a natural resource that has served us reliably for decades.

To learn more, please follow WREC on social media, and visit our website and the Northwest River Partners website.

Clay R. Fitch, CEO