News Briefs


Co-ops Adopt Hydro Resolution

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) held its Power-Xchange 2023 annual meeting last month in Nashville. During the business meeting, voting delegates approved a resolution urging federal agencies to study the potential for development of hydro-electric power on the Mississippi River, which the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA) proposed.

Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services Board Director Ed Hass spearheaded the effort, saying hydro is a premier clean energy resource, as it is carbon-free, and does not have the reliability, waste disposal, or carbon emissions challenges of other energy generation sources.

The final resolution reads: We support legislative and regulatory initiatives which promote the development and implementation of technologies to generate hydro-electric power through the existing lock and dam system on the Mississippi River. We support legislative and regulatory initiatives that enable funding for research and development, technical design, and for upgrading existing and new dam and pump storage hydropower facilities that incorporate low-head capacity hydro-electric power generation.

WECA President and CEO Steve Freese (pictured) spoke in support of the resolution. The membership voted 582–39 to adopt.

PAC Gets New Name

NRECA announced a rebranding of its political action committee, previously known as ACRE, or Action Committee for Rural Electrification. The new name is America’s Electric Cooperatives PAC.

NRECA made the change because it said today’s policymakers do not make the connection between ACRE contributions and the electric co-ops that support the PAC. NRECA first established ACRE 56 years ago to support political candidates who “speak for the interests of electric co-ops and their consumer-members.”

Dairyland Rep Testifies Before House Committee

John Carr, vice president of strategic growth at Dairyland Power Cooperative, was among those who testified during a three-hour House Natural Resources Committee hearing on “The Builder Act” on Tuesday, February 28 in Washington, D.C. Introduced by Representative Garrett Graves (R-Louisiana), the proposal seeks to make the process of permitting energy infrastructure projects more efficient and timelier.

Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-Arizona) opened the hearing summarizing the critical need for permitting reform and cited delays with the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line as example.

Carr testified about delays in both the transmission project, as well as the stalled Nemadji Trail Energy Center (NTEC), saying, “Dairyland and other electric co-ops support the appropriate consideration of potential environmental impacts of energy projects during the permitting process, but the existing process impedes our ability to deploy clean energy to meet the current and future needs of our consumers and communities. We simply must reform the process to enable the transition that is already underway and to ensure it can be done reliably and affordably for our customers.”

Representative Derrick Van Orden (R-Wisconsin) introduced Carr and said, “Electric co-ops are the backbone of reliable power in rural America, especially Wisconsin, and ensuring that these systems are able to be upgraded in a timely and efficient manner is critical for millions of Americans.”

Grid Attacks Up 71% in 2022

Physical attacks on the U.S. power grid were up 71% last year, compared to 2021, and experts predict the assaults will continue to rise.

According to a report by the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC), a division of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), “the recent uptick in serious physical security incidents is likely to continue into 2023 based on the number and nature of recent attacks combined with the overall current heightened threat environment.”

The attacks range from vandalism to damage due to firearms.

Strand Replaces Nowak on Commision

Governor Tony Evers appointed Summer Strand to serve on the three-member Public Service Commission (PSC), replacing Ellen Nowak whose term ended March 1. Nowak, a Walker appointee, served on the Commission since July of 2011.

Strand comes to the PSC from the Walbec Group, a construction and engineering company, where she was the director of government affairs. She also serves on the State of Wisconsin Building Commission (SBC).

Strand was previously administrator of the Division of Facilities Development at the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) and served as chief of staff to State Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee). With Nowak’s departure, all three members of the state executive regulatory board are Democratic governor appointees. Members of the PSC make key decisions related to the energy industry and serve six-year terms.