CEO’s Message – February 2024

Technology Tools of the Trade

Clay R. Fitch

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Generally, speaking in cliches, such as the one above, doesn’t provide much insight. Yet, as I reflect on my career at Wells Rural Electric Company, I continue to come back to how true that particular cliche actually rings. I’m astonished at the ways, for better and worse, technology has changed and shaped modern society and our everyday lives. We carry supercomputers in our pockets, and there seem to be screens everywhere. Data and information have never been more readily available. I find technology to be most fulfilling when it helps me strengthen those traditional relationships with family and loved ones or be more efficient so I have more time for the people and activities I’ve always loved.

The same is true for your electric cooperative.

Securing access to an affordable, reliable power supply and making sure we can get it delivered to our service territory remains the largest challenge of our day-to-day job. The arguments may have changed, but we remain ever-vigilant of legislative and regulatory issues that could wreak havoc on our business. On the member side, for all the discussion about keeping electricity affordable, making sure the lights turn on when you flip the switch remains the priority for most members. That’s where we hope the advances in technology can help us address those time-honored challenges.

We, too, have access to more data, feedback, and information than we’ve ever had before, particularly when it comes to system performance. Your employees have done an excellent job putting that information to use to shape our yearly planning and preventive maintenance projects. We still adhere to the philosophy that the best kind of outage is the one you avoid. We effectively use technology to identify potential problem areas and replace equipment or improve our distribution system before issues become critical and create outages. I’m proud of the way our crews have used data to reduce the number of distribution outages—those that occur within our system—across the service territory. This fall, we launched new outage management technology that is going to provide us with even better data to continue improving our efficiency.

Most of our power interruptions are transmission outages that occur between the generation source before the power reaches our distribution lines. Time cannot change geography, and we still remain at the end of the Pacific Northwest’s transmission system. That means occasional outages are just part of doing business in a rural area.

To that end, we hope we can use technology to help you better prepare and manage those times when the power does go down. The same outage management tool I mentioned above also notifies you when your power goes out and provides updates on whether you are home or not. I believe it’s a great resource that provides practical benefits for both employees and members.

There are other new tools and capabilities on the horizon that will continue to give you more power to control your energy use. As WREC has always done, we’re excited to continue maximizing new technology and provide you with new tools and resources that improve the quality of your service and lives.

Best wishes,

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer