Ridge Takes the Helm at Dairyland Power Cooperative
Brent Ridge is the new president and CEO of Dairyland Power Cooperative, taking over for Barb Nick, who retired in July.
Ridge, 53, comes to Dairyland from Richland, Washington, where he was employed by Energy Northwest, most recently serving in the roles of vice president, corporate services, and chief financial officer and treasurer. Ridge also oversaw the agency’s hydro, wind, and solar operations.
At Dairyland, he says his priorities are to focus on employee development, continue to improve on the safety performance record, and manage diversification in the best interest of members.
Ridge becomes the eighth leader of the generation and transmission cooperative.
Representative Kind, Senator Baldwin Support Interest Savings for Electric Co-ops
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) joins Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) in supporting the Flexible Financing for Rural America Act, which would save participating electric cooperatives $2 million in loan interest, on average.
The bipartisan proposal would allow electric co-ops and rural telecom providers to take advantage of lower interest rates for RUS loans. The legislation does away with an antiquated rule that penalizes borrowers for early payoffs, preventing them from the option to refinance debt at current rates. The current 20-year U.S. Treasury interest rate is 1.17 percent. The rates that co-ops are paying varies, but some co-ops are paying rates of more than 5 percent.
In total 61 representatives have signed on to support the house bill, and 20 senators are in support of the senate bill.
NRECA Challenges FCC Decision to Open Up Access to 6 GHz Band
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is suing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the decision to open up access to the radio band historically dedicated to utilities, public safety personnel, and law enforcement for critical operations.
NRECA, the Utilities Technology Council, and the American Public Power Association filed suit on July 27 to find the FCC’s rule outside the law for allowing unlicensed, low-power indoor devices that connect to the internet, such as an in-home router, to operate on the band to the detriment of critical infrastructure and public safety communications.
In the July 27 filling, utility groups claim the FCC lacks data on how very low-power indoor devices would impact the spectrum. The FCC approved the expanded access in April.
“Milk Gallon Giveaway” Promotion a Success
The Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association, in cooperation with Kwik Trip and participating Wisconsin electric cooperatives, delivered 14,016 gallons of milk to members in June’s Milk Gallon Giveaway. Members redeemed coupons provided by the cooperatives at area Kwik Trip stores.
According to Kwik Trip, coupon promotions typically result in a 2–5 percent redemption rate. The Milk Gallon Giveaway had a 12 percent redemption rate, with some co-op areas registering as high as 18 percent redemption.
The promotion, in addition to dairy product giveaways at other co-ops, was offered in connection with June Dairy Month to support both farmers and members affected by the pandemic.
Touchstone Energy Announces Jana Adams as Next Executive Director
Touchstone Energy Cooperatives announced the selection of Jana Adams to serve as executive director. Adams comes to Touchstone from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), where she most recently served as senior vice president overseeing business operations and marketing strategies.
In her new role, Adams will provide strategic and operational leadership to the national brand and leverage resources across the electric cooperative network to promote Touchstone Energy’s mission.
Touchstone Energy Cooperatives is a national network of electric cooperatives with 30 million member-owners across 46 states that provides resources and leverages partnerships to help member cooperatives and their employees better engage and serve their members.
Utility Assistance Still Available
Wisconsin still has funds available for those who need help paying their utility bills. According to the Department of Administration (DOA), supplemented by funds from the federal CARES Act, the state had more than $10 million available in Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) funds for the program year that runs through the end of September. Beginning October 1, the fund will be replenished with $106 million.
Wisconsin’s utility assistance programs offer once-a-year benefits to households with income less than 60 percent of the state median, or about $46,300 for a family of three. Also, in the interest of making sure those impacted by the pandemic have access, applicants only need to show one month of income meeting the requirements instead of three to be eligible.
In a non-pandemic year, limited LIHEAP funds available in October are often exhausted by the end of December.
For more information on how to apply, go to: http://homeenergyplus.wi.gov/.