CEO’s Message – July 2023

Representing You

Headshot of Clay Fitch
I’m confident our friends and neighbors hold a wide range of opinions on the success of the 2023 session of the Nevada Legislature. During the regular session, and the 2 special sessions that followed, your elected representatives considered 1,239 proposed changes to Nevada law. In terms of impact on members of Wells Rural Electric Company, one bill stood apart.

Assembly Bill 321 was a collaborative effort by electric utilities across the state to ensure electricity is available to you every hour of every day. The bill enacts sentencing enhancements for assault or battery of a utility employee who is on the job and wearing identification and prohibits trespassing, vandalism or destruction of critical utility infrastructure. Further, the bill imposes criminal and civil penalties for violations. It’s an important step in protecting your access to reliable electricity in the wake of threats to utility employees locally and attacks on substations in other states.

WREC’s allies in the Nevada Rural Electric Association worked diligently to draft the proposal, find a sponsor and guide the bill through both houses of the legislature. After careful consideration, the people elected to represent you in the Senate and Assembly passed the bill unanimously. Bipartisan support has become rare in politics and unanimous support underscores the importance of preserving reliable electric service. Additional information about the legislative session is on page 28.

Closer to home, the annual election of friends and neighbors to represent you on the board of directors is well underway. Nominations closed June 26, making this the best time to inform all members that the eligibility criteria for the 2024 election has changed.

WREC has always published the eligibility criteria as part of the notice of nominations. However, questions arise during every election and minor changes to the bylaws are made to clarify procedures. Despite those changes, questions about eligibility have become more common. For example, if 2 tenants share a rental property and are paying equal portions of the monthly electricity bill, are both tenants members and therefore eligible to run for the board of directors? Is eligibility affected if only one tenant opened the account in their name? As you can imagine, these questions can become even more complicated and sensitive when eligibility questions shift from tenants to members of families and owners of businesses.

After extensive review of applicable laws, and best practices from other electric cooperatives across the nation, your board of directors decided the simple solution is the best solution. In future elections, only members, or joint members, who are listed by name on the account and who are residents of the service territory will be eligible for nomination. If you are considering running for the board and are not currently listed on the account, discuss adding your name with the current account holder and contact your local office to make changes, if necessary. Residency will be determined by comparing the physical address on your driver’s license, or other legally recognized form of identification, to the service address on the account.

These changes are intended to ensure fair elections, and keep governance of your cooperative transparent and focused on protecting the interests of all members. If you have any questions or comments, please contact your local office.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Office