CEO’s Message — February 2021

Committed to a Co-op Culture for All
Headshot of Clay Fitch

I’ve written many times about why and how Wells Rural Electric Co. (WREC) is different—because we’re a not-for-profit member-owned cooperative. Our business model sets us apart from other utilities because we adhere to seven guiding principles that reflect core values of democratic control, honesty, transparency, equity, inclusiveness, and service for the betterment of the community.

Electric cooperatives, including WREC, have a unique and storied place in our country’s history. We democratized the American dream by bringing electricity to rural areas when for-profit electric companies thought there wouldn’t be a big enough return on their investment.

Back then, cities were electrified, but rural areas were not, which created the original rural-urban divide. Newly established electric lines helped power economic opportunities in rural areas. Today, that spirit of equity and inclusion is a vital part of your cooperative’s DNA.

When our electric cooperative was founded, each member contributed an equal share to gain access to electricity that benefited individual families and the larger local community. Each member had an equal vote in cooperative matters. That sense of equity and inclusion is still how we operate today.

WREC was built by and belongs to the diverse communities and members we serve. Membership is open to everyone in our service territory regardless of race, religion, age, disability, gender or sexual identity, language, political perspective, or socioeconomic status. WREC is a stronger cooperative because we serve such distinct and vibrant communities.

By paying your electric bill each month, you’re a member of the cooperative—and every member has an equal voice and vote when it comes to cooperative governance. This ties back to our guiding principles of equitable economic participation and democratic control.

We encourage all members to vote in WREC’s director elections every year, and we invite all members to weigh in on discussions that set cooperative policies and priorities. We know our community members have different needs and perspectives. We welcome diverse views on all issues under consideration by your cooperative. The more viewpoints we hear, the better we can reflect the needs of all members of our community.

While our top priority is providing safe, reliable, clean, and affordable energy, we also want to be a catalyst for good in our community. We invest in our diverse communities through scholarship programs, charitable giving, educational programs, and more. We strive to make long-term decisions that improve and enrich the communities we serve.

While today’s world is radically different from when WREC was formed, our cooperative values have stood the test of time.

We recognize that today’s cooperative members expect more. My pledge to you—the members we proudly serve—is to promote a cooperative culture of member-focused inclusion, diversity, and equity for all.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer