News Briefs


YLC Essay Contest Winners Announced

Youth attendees of this summer’s WECA Youth Leadership Conference at UW-Stout were invited to submit an essay based on a presentation by Ben Bella, safety & loss control manager for a group of electric co-ops, that focused on the importance of electrical safety in the home and community.

Rowan Wergeland of Jump River Electric Cooperative penned the winning essay submitted in the 2023 WECA Youth Leadership Conference Essay Contest and will receive the top prize of $1,000 of scholarship funds. Richland Electric Cooperative’s Ryther Gehrke took second place ($500) and Barron Electric Cooperative’s Peyton Steines placed third ($250).

Co-op Leaders Advocate During D.C. Fly-In

WECA President and CEO Steve Freese, WECA VP of Government Affairs and External Relations Rob Richard, and a group of Wisconsin electric cooperative leaders headed to Washington, D.C. recently for meetings in the offices of all Wisconsin Senators and Representatives. The conversations focused on key issues including ensuring reliability during the clean energy transition; the impact of rulemaking, including the Department of Energy’s pending transformer rule and the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed power plant rule; and RUS and broadband funding in the 2023 Farm Bill.

Also making the trip were WECA Board President Dave Hischke of Oconto Electric Cooperative, Eau Claire Energy Cooperative CEO Monica Obrycki, Oakdale Electric Cooperative General Manager and CEO Chris Tackmann, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services President and CEO Nate Boettcher, Eau Claire Energy Cooperative Director Judi Anibas, Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative President and CEO Lila Shower, Price Electric Cooperative President and CEO Jeff Olson, Dunn Energy Cooperative General Manager and CEO Jesse Singerhouse, Dairyland Power Cooperative Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Ben Porath, and Dairyland’s Government Relations Manager Jennifer Shilling.

“This was an outstanding trip to D.C.,” said Richard. “Nothing is more effective than our members sharing real-life stories to drive home the cooperative message and make our voices heard. We clearly opened some minds with legislators and staff on how and why the proposed transformer rule and the proposed EPA greenhouse gas rule are unworkable and unrealistic in the timeframes they are proposing.”

WECA Pushes Safety-Related State Legislation

Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association leaders recently testified at the State Capitol in support of several pieces of legislation that impact electric cooperatives.

The first bill would allow electric cooperatives to use flashing green lights in addition to existing red and amber lights to enhance safety, as municipal and state trucks do. The second bill would allow electric co-ops to use UTVs and ATVs on most highways in certain circumstances, such as when heavy snow is a barrier to accessing downed power lines. Public utilities and some state agencies are already granted ATV and UTV use. The third bill supports the eradication and management of wild parsnip, an invasive species that can lead to severe burns, especially to lineworkers.