CEO’s Message – November 2019

Headshot of Clay FitchMaking a Difference

No cold milk or hot coffee. No lights. Scrubbing clothes by hand in water heated over a fire. No Internet. No TV. It’s hard to imagine our lives without the convenience of electricity, but according to the International Energy Agency, that’s reality for 1.1 billion people worldwide.

Life without electricity was reality for much of rural America before the rural electric cooperative movement began in the 1940s. It was reality for much of Northeastern Nevada and Northwestern Utah until 1958 when Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC) began providing electricity.

That rural/urban divide persists today. About 84% of people who live without electricity live in rural areas with 95% of those people living in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia.

One powerful option for bringing electricity to developing countries is forming new rural electric cooperatives. Since 1962, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International Program has brought electricity to more than 160 million people in 45 developing countries. The International Program designs and implements successful, sustainable, scalable rural electrification programs that improve education, health care, safety and economic opportunity.

The NRECA International Program is supported by charitable donations of time, money and materials from more than 300 American electric cooperatives as well as private organizations and individuals. WREC is proud to be one of the electric cooperatives providing financial assistance to bring electricity to families in developing nations. There are also hundreds of electric cooperative directors, linemen, engineers, managers and other employees who have volunteered to bring first-time access to electricity. Volunteers train staff at new cooperatives to build, maintain and operate sustainable utilities to improve the quality of life in their own communities.

Closer to home, WREC members are improving their own quality of life through the Next Dollar Foundation. Since its creation in 1995, the Next Dollar Foundation has helped local organizations, communities and schools make badly needed improvements to sports fields, playgrounds, community buildings, senior centers, libraries, clinics, museums and a host of other facilities. The Next Dollar Foundation has also helped many students continue their education beyond high school.

While these efforts have made a lasting impact on every community we serve, pressing needs remain. As you look around your community, I suspect you have ideas for projects but don’t see a way to secure funding. With your support and collaboration with a local organization, the Next Dollar Foundation could help your idea become a reality.

You might also see a need for services in your community but people with the needed skills aren’t available. You may even be thinking about going back to school to build your own skills. An education grant from the Next
Dollar Foundation might help fill those needs.

Additional information about changes to the Next Dollar Foundation appears on pages 28 and 29 inside. To learn more about projects the Next Dollar Foundation has funded in your community, submit your own project funding request, or apply for an education grant, please visit

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer