I feel safe saying we live in a hyper-partisan environment. This means an increasing amount of time and effort are required to reform existing bad policy or to defeat new policy proposals that would be harmful to the members of Wells Rural Electric Company (WREC). The recently completed 2017 Nevada legislative session presented many “opportunities” in this area, and I am pleased to report that the outcomes were generally positive for your electric cooperative.
Many of the ongoing challenges we face are driven by the well-intentioned policy drive to use more renewable resources to produce electricity. The value of this effort is widely debated, and reasonable people have differing points of view on both sides of the issue. But for WREC’s members, who already purchase electricity that is 96% carbon-free, obtaining more expensive renewable energy threatens only to drive the costs of electricity up with no discernible environmental benefits. WREC needs to retain its ability to act in the best interests of our members rather than comply with one-size-fits-all mandates from Carson City or Washington, D.C.
Your employees and Board of Directors work tirelessly to tackle complicated regulatory and policy issues. They analyze these issues within the ever-changing energy markets and then evaluate how those issues could impact you, our members. They have a deep understanding of the needs of the communities we serve, and they use that knowledge to ensure your needs are represented in legislative and regulatory policy-making.
Your Board, employees and industry allies have been successful protecting your interests at the state level. However, environmental issues and electricity market pressures at the regional level are causing costs to rise and revenues to decline for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). A proposal to sell BPA’s transmission grid is also of great concern. As WREC’s wholesale power provider, BPA’s rates for wholesale electricity and transmission have an enormous impact on the price you ultimately pay for electricity.
Despite constant pressure from utilities to control costs, BPA is moving forward with plans to raise wholesale power and transmission rates in October. We do not yet know how that increase will affect the members of WREC, but rest assured, we are diligently working to reduce the proposed wholesale power cost increases.
The ability to make your voice heard is a huge part of being a member of WREC. We don’t lobby elected officials on behalf of investors with the aim to increase profits. We work with elected officials, and enlist the support of other organizations who represent consumers and rural communities, to ensure that you will always be provided with safe, reliable and affordable electricity. That is the cooperative difference.
Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer