Details of specific proposals vary, but the essence of most political debates boils down to a basic question: “Who gets to decide?” Whether Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) is working to persuade your representative in the Nevada Legislature or the United States Congress, the essence of our message is, “Our members decided to invest in an electric cooperative to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity. Our members vote to decide who represents them on the Board of Directors. Any legislation should respect our members’ investment and their right to make decisions for themselves.”
Backers of Question 3, dubbed the “Energy Choice Initiative” on the November 2016 general election ballot, made some lofty promises: lower bills, more renewable energy, more jobs and a choice of electricity providers.
It may not be obvious when you pay your monthly bill, but WREC fulfills all of those promises every day. Here are some examples.
WREC purchases its wholesale power supply from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). While we have serious concerns about BPA’s rising costs, it has historically been a reliable source of affordable electricity. In fact, utility rates across the Pacific Northwest are among the lowest in the nation. The decision your elected Board members made to purchase wholesale electricity from BPA and to control local costs fulfills the promise of lower bills.
About 85% of the electricity you use is generated by hydroelectric dams. An additional 1% is generated by wind. WREC also integrates local sources of renewable energy through our net metering policy. In total, about 86% of the electricity you use comes from renewable resources. That percentage far exceeds any Renewable Portfolio Standard adopted for Nevada and fulfills the promise providing renewable energy.
The promise of more jobs is often made in conjunction with the promise of a more diversified economy. Rather that collect money through rates to “create” jobs, the strategy of your Board of Directors has been to keep electricity affordable so you can support local businesses, and those businesses can then create jobs in every sector of the economy.
Finally, lets consider the promise of choice of providers. It’s possible that some of our members with large loads could make electricity purchases from the wholesale market. Some may even be able to arrange delivery through multiple owners of various components of the transmission grid. However, to get a competitive price, most of us would need to join a collection of other consumers so that we could buy in bulk. WREC has always provided that service. It isn’t just a small collection of your friends or business associates, its a pool of 4,072 members in Tooele, Elko and Eureka counties who, through their membership in WREC, have made a collective promise to each other to purchase all of their electricity together to achieve the best possible price.
There is a possibility that Question 3 could create some opportunities for WREC members. Our promise is that your electric cooperative will capitalize on any opportunities on your behalf. We always have.
Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer