Annual Meeting Educates | Tesch Elected to CFC Board | Russian Influence | Nuke Fuel Storage | Nowak Departs PSC


Annual meeting educates, serves host community

Some 6,000 electric co-op leaders attended the recent National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. Participants heard presentations on industry practices including worker safety, attracting and retaining young professionals in rural America, cybersecurity and technology issues, and voted on member-generated resolutions to guide the organization’s policy choices. Seen here, Mykayla Wollin, Wisconsin’s youth representative sponsored by Jackson Electric Cooperative, joined more than 40 other young cooperators in evening volunteer work at Nashville’s Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

Tesch elected CFC board officer

Taylor Electric Cooperative Board Chairman Dean Tesch was elected secretary-treasurer of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC) at the organization’s 49th annual meeting—held in conjunction with the NRECA annual meeting—February 28 in Nashville, Tennessee. Tesch has been serving as one of two regional (Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois) CFC directors and continues in that role during his tenure as a board officer.

Report cites Russian gaming of U.S. energy policy

The Russian government has used social media to plant narratives aimed at disrupting U.S. domestic energy markets, according to a March report from the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
The report cites “the Kremlin’s energy influence-peddling operation” in describing Russian entities “deceptively using various social and traditional media platforms” to spur opposition to U.S. development of domestic energy resources and U.S. contributions to global energy supplies. The Russian economy is heavily dependent on energy exports, especially of liquid natural gas.

Though the report was authored by majority Republican committee staff, anger over Russian meddling has been bipartisan. The Hill quoted Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, a high-profile Democrat and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying “Russia is continuing to extend its digital tentacles into every aspect of American life; it is absolutely chilling and profoundly dangerous to our future.”

Feds reviewing Yucca alternative

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last month began regulatory review of the license application for a private-sector interim facility to store spent nuclear power plant fuel in New Mexico, New Jersey-based Holtec International announced in March.

According to the announcement, the NRC indicated a license could be issued by midsummer of 2020 and perhaps sooner if all aspects of the review are satisfactory. Spent fuel is now stored on-site at or near nuclear plants nationwide, as the government is 20 years past its own legal deadline to provide a single, permanent repository.

The application represented the nation’s only currently active licensing effort in response to the Energy Department’s solicitation for interim storage sites. Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists applied in 2016 for a license to develop spent fuel storage at a west Texas site but suspended its application last year. At press time, Waste Control Specialists was in the process of reactivating licensing activity.

Wanted: Utility Regulator

Ellen Nowak, who chaired Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission (PSC) since 2015 and served as a commissioner since 2011, departed the independent utility regulatory panel in March to become the new Secretary of the Department of Administration.

She succeeds Scott Neitzel, who had been a Madison utility executive prior to his 2015 appointment to the state’s highest-ranking cabinet post. Earlier, Neitzel had served as a member of the PSC during the Thompson administration.

Commissioner Lon Roberts was appointed by Governor Walker to succeed Nowak in the chair. Walker appointed his chief of staff, Rich Zipperer, to fill the vacant seat on the three-member utility commission.