CEO’s Message – April 2019

A Story in Just Six Words

Headshot of Clay FitchThere is a legend that Ernest Hemingway once bet his dining companions that he could write a story in six words. He reportedly wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” and collected $10 from each person at the table.

The concept of flash fiction has inspired other powerful six-word stories such as, “Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends,” “I still make coffee for two,” “It did not go as planned,” and “She did it the hard way.”

I’m no Hemingway, but I can tell you the story of Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) in six words: “People wanted electricity. They worked together.”

The sequel is just six words as well: “Working together is better for everyone.”It may seem like merely a philosophical statement, but we are actually working together in more ways than one.

For example, you have an opportunity in June of each year to nominate yourself or a fellow member to serve on the board of directors. As the top decision-making body, the board you elect creates policies and sets rates to ensure that safe, reliable, clean and affordable electricity keeps flowing to your homes and businesses. Your Board is working together for you.

As members, you are working together to invest in your company. It’s easy to think of your electricity bill as just another bill, but it’s more like a mortgage statement. While the majority of your bill is the cost of wholesale electricity, a portion of your bill pays interest and principle. Just like your mortgage, you are building equity in an asset. In this case, the asset is the cooperative that delivers electricity to you at cost.

Unlike your home equity, the money isn’t tied up until you sell your home or take a home equity loan. A portion of your equity is refunded each year through the capital credit check you receive. The capital credit system uses equity collected last year to refund a portion of the equity collected in previous years. In this way, even the newest members are investing in their cooperative while the investments made by earlier members are gradually repaid.

Not only is your equity invested in upgrading and maintaining the grid, it is invested in the equipment and buildings necessary for your employees to put your assets to work.

A few of us still think of the headquarters building on Humboldt Avenue as the “new building” because we began our careers with WREC in the “old building” on Lake Avenue. Through diligent maintenance and small renovation projects, this building has been serving your needs for 33 years. Parts of the distribution grid have been serving you for 61 years.

Your board and employees take pride in being good custodians of the assets you entrust to us. Your cooperative is financially sound. Physical assets are well maintained. Long-term power supply contracts help keep rates affordable. Budgets are wisely invested. Strategic planning prepares your cooperative for the future.

That future can also be summarized in six words, “Meeting the changing needs of members.”

My fellow employees and I thank you for the privilege of helping you create a more powerful future together.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer