CEO’s Message — November 2021

The Water Makes It Green

Headshot of Clay Fitch

We are thankfully past the treacherous wildfire season and did not have a major wildfire within Wells Rural Electric Company’s (WREC’s) service territory. Autumn rains quickly gave way to an early snowstorm. Hopefully, the storm marks the end of a horrible drought and enough snow will accumulate in the mountains to provide a green spring and summer. Although I have shoveled my fair share of snow, I have come to accept and appreciate that the snow and rain make it green.

The same is true for most of the electricity powering our lives—the water makes it green. As a member-owned electric utility, WREC holds what are called “preference rights,” which enable your electric cooperative to buy safe, reliable, affordable, and carbon-free electricity from the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS). The system is comprised of 31 hydroelectric dams across the Columbia River drainage basin. Dams built primarily for flood control are owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Bureau of Reclamation is responsible for the dams built to store irrigation water. Regardless of ownership, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) — another federal agency—is responsible for selling the electricity generated by the dams. BPA also owns and operates about 75% of the high-voltage transmission grid in the Northwest, which it uses to deliver green energy to utilities like WREC.

BPA is WREC’s primary source of wholesale electricity. We make only small market purchases to supplement our purchases from BPA. Affordable electricity is critical to many of the businesses driving the local economy. In addition to being an incredibly green resource, the hydro system enables the integration of thousands of megawatts of renewable wind and solar power. The flexibility of the FCRPS allows it to ramp down hydro generation when wind and solar generation ramps up, keeping generation in balance with consumption. Hydro acts as a giant battery providing electricity when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. It’s a remarkable synergy—all from our clean, renewable Northwest hydropower system.

We live in a beautiful place. Whether you admire the landscape or take for granted the electricity that powers your life, remember it’s the water that makes it green.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer