CEO Message – August 2018

Headshot of Clay FitchQuestion 3 is weighing on me like no other issue I have ever confronted. In my entire career, I haven’t had to deal with a threat to your supply of safe, reliable, clean, affordable electricity that comes anywhere close.

Proponents for Question 3 claim that retail competition will provide more choices and lower rates. One advertisement says, “If your power company raises your rate, break up with it.”

Consumers in Texas are finding out that it isn’t that simple. A headline in the Houston Chronicle on June 7, 2018 read, “Electricity prices expected to skyrocket this summer.” The article which followed explained, “Consumers hoping to find better deals when their electricity contracts expire are in for a shock as retail prices have soared in anticipation of hot weather, potential power shortages and spikes in wholesale electricity prices. The low teaser rates for consumers available just a month ago have disappeared.”

If Question 3 passes, I worry that we will read that same headline in the High Desert Advocate, the Wells Progress, the Wendover Times and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Consumers in Massachusetts have had their own problems with deregulated power marketers. According to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, “Competitive electric suppliers promise big energy savings but are actually burdening customers with hundreds of dollars in extra costs. In two years, Massachusetts residents lost over $176 million to these predatory companies. I’m calling for an end to this industry because that’s the best way to protect our seniors, low-income residents, and minority communities from these persistent scams.”

I personally heard the most damning quote of all in January. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada held ten days of workshops to gather information about implementation of Question 3. Since it was a workshop, anyone and everyone was welcome to testify, and many did. Joe Reynolds, Chair of the PUCN, asked a lot of pointed questions. One was, “Will Question 3 guarantee lower energy costs?” The hesitant response from a proponent was, “[Question 3] doesn’t say that it guarantees reduced prices … I want to be careful that we’re realistic about what can happen.”

There is an adage which says, “We are free to make choices but we are not free to choose the consequences.” If that is true, and I believe that it is, then I urge you to make the choice that will have the best consequences.

When it comes to ballot question 3, Wells Rural Electric Company already delivers on all the promises “Energy Choice” proponents are making to get you to vote yes. While I admit that “choice” is a great buzzword, I think you should consider making these choices instead by voting no on question 3.

Choose your bank account.

If Question 3 passes, monthly bills will go up, especially for residential members.

Choose the constitution.

“Energy Choice” doesn’t belong in the state constitution. Voting yes means it would take a minimum of six year to implement changes.

Choose your cooperative.

WREC formed 60 years ago because other utilities couldn’t deliver electricity to our territory at affordable rates and still turn a profit. That remains true today. Voting no on Question 3 is a vote to keep cost-based power in your hands.

Protect the choices that really matter. Vote no on 3.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer