Highlights of the July 18, 2017 Meeting of your Board of Directors
More than half of America’s renewable energy supply comes from hydroelectricity. More importantly, hydropower provides a solid base to maintain the reliability of the electricity grid. Hydropower can quickly go from zero power to full production, making it extremely important to integrating intermittent wind and solar generation and exceptionally good at meeting rapidly changing consumer demand. By harnessing the energy of flowing water, hydropower provides safe, reliable, affordable carbon-free electricity.
Ironically, despite its century-long track record of clean energy production, State law does not recognize hydropower as renewable.
If, as a nation, we want to increase our use of solar and wind energy, we must also increase our use of hydropower‑and there is plenty of room for growth. According to a report by the United States Department of Energy, only 3% of the nation’s 80,000 dams currently generate electricity. We could increase our generating capacity by more than 12,000 mega- Watts by installing generators on existing dams.
Think of the minimal negative environmental impact of adding generation to dams that already provide recreation, flood control and irrigation to grow food for a hungry world compared to the positive impact of generating enough renewable and affordable electricity to power more than 7.8 million homes.
In 2013, Congress unanimously passed, and former President Obama signed, legislation to expedite licensing for building hydropower on existing dams. Nearly as miraculous as unanimous support in Congress was the fact that American Rivers, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to protecting and restoring rivers, and the hydropower industry both supported this legislation. Maybe that support reflects the overwhelming public support for hydropower. A poll by Princeton Research Associates International found that 81% of Americans believe existing hydropower facilities should be maintained and 75% support expansion.
As the Board of Directors of Wells Rural Electric Company, we believe it’s well past time for Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to recognize hydropower as the flexible, reliable, affordable, renewable and carbon-free energy resource that it is.
To that end, we have distributed the foregoing position statement as a letter to the editor through local newspapers. Our hope is that we can build support beyond our membership to change public policy.
At our July meeting, we received presentations from four departments on their work to achieve the goals set through the strategic plan. The presentations highlighted accomplishments in Finance, Member Services, Operations and External Affairs.
Legislation and regulation are principle drivers of the increasing cost of electricity. External Affairs reported on collaboration with the Nevada Rural Electric Association to minimize the impact of laws adopted by the 2017 Nevada Legislature. Of the 1,251 bills proposed, 42 were of special concern to your electric cooperative, Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC). We are pleased to report that all of those bills were amended to protect your interests, defeated or vetoed.
Operations confirmed that increased data collection and analysis has enabled WREC to better design and prioritize system improvements. Maintenance and upgrade projects identified through the analysis have increased reliability and improved power quality.
Finance provided information on their success with controlling costs. Among other actions, significant savings have been achieved by refinancing long-term debt to capitalize on lower interest rates. Implementation of an investment policy has maximized the return on working capital.
Member Services listed an increased social media presence, deployment of a member-driven website and increases in the utilization of automated account management and energy-efficiency programs among their accomplishments.
In other business, we approved the agenda for the current meeting, the minutes of the June 20 Board meeting, the summary of those minutes for publication in the August edition of Ruralite magazine, the minutes of the Safety Committee meeting held June 13, and the Safety First Verse.
We reviewed and approved the May Form 7 Financial Report. We then reported time devoted to Board business between June 20 and July 18.
We approved a revised pole license agreement and authorized the limited release of map information to a member. We approved the nomination report listing candidates for the Board of Directors and authorized mailing the ballots to all current members.
Lastly, we appointed members of the Board to represent you at meetings of the Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the National Information Solutions Cooperative, the Cooperative Finance Corporation and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative during the NRECA Region IX meeting in Denver.