News Briefs


Youth Leadership Congress Returns

More than 60 electric cooperative teens attended the three-day Youth Leadership Congress (YLC) at UW-Stout July 12–14. This was the first in-person event since 2019, and the first time YLC has been held at UW-Stout.

YLC members participated in activities aimed at building leadership skills, including a session on “breakthrough leadership” by motivational speaker and author Craig Hillier, and an appearance by Will Tuchtenhagen, former YLC board member and recipient of the 2021 Glenn English National Cooperative Leadership Foundation’s $10,000 Scholarship.

Youth in attendance also can enter the WECA essay contest, which awards scholarship money to the top three winners.

Motivational speaker Craig Hillier speaks to youth attendees.

The following YLC attendees were recognized as 2022 MVPs:

  • District 1 – Cicely Kiecker, Chippewa Valley Electric
  • District 2 – Dayne Beaudette, Chippewa Valley Electric
  • District 3 – Jayden Mosley, Rock Energy
  • District 4 – Theodore Robish, Taylor Electric
  • District 5 – Emma Steinke, Rock Energy

This year’s group winner for best attitude and participation was district 4, which was represented by co-ops from Adams-Columbia, Central Wisconsin, Oakdale, Pierce Pepin, Richland, Rock, Scenic Rivers, Taylor, St. Croix, and Barron Electric Cooperatives.

More than 100 teens attended YLC annually before the pandemic, and event organizers are hopeful the event will return to full strength next year.

2023 Youth Board Elected

Attendees of Youth Leadership Congress (YLC) have the opportunity to run for Youth Board, which includes gathering signatures, conducting interviews, and delivering a speech before the group-wide vote at the conclusion of the event.

The 2023 Youth Board members are:

  • Constance Clark-Bailey, Scenic Rivers Energy
  • Kc Rose, Chippewa Valley Electric
  • Molly Damm, Adams-Columbia Electric
  • Theodore Robisch, Taylor Electric
  • Daniel Deutsch, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services
  • Samantha Hopkins, Rock Energy
  • Emma Steinke, Rock Energy (Alternate)

Youth Board members are invited to attend the 2023 NRECA Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., next summer and will return to YLC in 2023 as team leaders.

Broadband Coverage, Quality Improving

The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access has released its second annual report, which details progress made over the past year and sets goals going forward to ensure all Wisconsinites have access to high-speed internet. The task force, which is made up of industry and community leaders including Richland Electric Cooperative CEO & General Manager Shannon Clark and Dairyland Power Cooperative Government Relations Manager Jennifer Shilling, reports improved download speeds and better access overall.

The second annual task force report also focuses on “digital equity,” noting that many lower-income families cannot afford broadband, even if it is available in their area, and seeks to improve funding opportunities and resources.

The task force is also hoping to continue outreach to communities and regions to assist in the technical aspect of broadband expansion, from the early planning stages and including the often complex process of grant applications.

Solar Complaints Surge in Wisconsin, Midwest

The funding opportunities fueling a cleaner energy future related to solar expansion for homeowners is also creating an opportunity for fraudulent activity. Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) reports it has already received as many complaints about solar companies in 2022 as it did in all of 2021.

So far in 2022, DATCP has received 13 complaints regarding solar energy companies and contractors. In all of 2021, that number was 13. In 2020, it was 11.

Complaints have included untrue financial claims, misleading advertising, installation issues, false promises of device performance and company guarantees, panel defects, and failure to provide agreed upon services.

PSC Awards Pierce Pepin Broadband Nearly $6 Million in Broadband Grants

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) announced the winners of the competitive application process for the latest round of grant funds from the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program, and Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services had all three of its projects approved. The PSC received 194 applications seeking a total of $495 million in funds and approved 71 projects totaling $125 million.

Pierce Pepin will now move forward with expanding broadband access with fiber-to-the-home service in three more areas bringing high-speed internet to 36 businesses and almost 1,500 homes.