Area Communities Receive More than Electricity from CWEC


The number one goal of Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative (CWEC) is to provide electricity to its members as efficiently, safely, and cost-effectively as possible. While CWEC strives to achieve that, the co-op also strives to help and support the communities that it serves in other ways.

The co-op believes that providing electricity and support to the communities in its service territory go hand-in-hand. That importance is reflected in the CWEC mission statement, which states “We are your trusted energy partner and provider of valued community support.”

Concern for Community is also one of the seven principles that CWEC follows.

There are many ways in which CWEC provides support in the communities it serves.

Energy Conservation Rewards

In order to make energy projects more affordable for its members, CWEC offers rebates for all sorts of upgrades. This includes lighting, power strips, water flow restrictors, heating and cooling, energy audits, weatherization, household appliances, and electric water heaters. There are also energy conservation rebates available for agriculture, commercial, and industrial customers.

As of January 1, 2024, many of these offerings have increased for energy efficiency purchases including home heating and cooling fixtures, insulation, and Energy Star-rated appliances.

Operation Round Up

Operation Round Up provides funds for local groups, such as the Iola-Scandinavia Forest/Jorgens Park Reserve.

Operation Round Up is a program designed to raise funds for charitable organizations, individuals in need, and educational purposes. As the name suggests, participating members’ bills are rounded up to the nearest dollar. These funds are then administered by the Operation Round Up Trust Board, which is comprised of CWEC members. One hundred percent of the money collected is given to local concerns with no funds used for electric bills, administrative costs, or political purposes.

Operation Round Up funds are also used to provide scholarships to CWEC members or their dependent children who are attending college, vocational, or technical college.
Since the inception of the program, almost $650,000 has been donated.

Small Business Loans

In an effort to enhance the economic well-being of the communities CWEC serves, the co-op offers a couple of different financing options for new and expanding businesses.

The funds for this program are received from USDA’s Rural Economic Development program and used as a Revolving Loan fund (RLF) established by CWEC. Low-rate loans ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 are available to qualifying businesses for expansion projects and start-ups. Loans are subject to credit approval and fund availability.

STEAM Grants

Knowing the value of education and training, as well as understanding that classrooms may have limited funding to pursue the projects needed to educate students in local communities, CWEC offers STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) grants to local schools. Area public schools that are eligible to apply include Bowler, Iola-Scandinavia, Rosholt, Tigerton, and Wittenberg-Birnamwood. Public charter, private, and home schools within the townships that CWEC serves are also eligible to apply.

A total of $5,500 has been given to area schools through STEAM grants since the program began in 2022.

Food Pantry Donations

Each year CWEC hosts two donation drives for non-perishable food items. The collected items are then donated to local food pantries. The first donation drive is at the CWEC Annual Meeting held each April. The second donation drive is at the CWEC Annual Member Appreciation Breakfast. At these events, CWEC members who donate three non-perishable food items receive a free LED light bulb.

The co-op also periodically makes monetary donations to local food pantries.

Safe Electricity Demonstrations

Each May, in conjunction with National Electrical Safety Month, linemen from CWEC conduct electrical safety demonstrations for fourth-grade students at six elementary schools in the CWEC service territory. Elementary schools include those located in Birnamwood, Bowler, Iola, Rosholt, Tigerton, and Wittenberg.

The demonstrations show students firsthand the dangers that could occur if they aren’t safe around electricity.

CWEC also has an electricity hot-line setup built on a trailer geared for electricity safety demonstrations at high schools and for community groups.

Toys for Tots

For more than 20 years CWEC has partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve to organize a Toys for Tots campaign in the CWEC service area each Christmas. Through the campaign, CWEC provides help to area families in need by supplying donated toys to the families, so they can give their children Christmas presents. Each year the campaign provides toys to more than 1,000 area children.