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