Statewide Officers Elected; Essay Winners Chosen; Lawmakers Rescue Illinois Nukes; NY Retail Competition Scrutinized


Statewide co-op officers elected
Officers who will lead the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association through 2016–17 were re-elected by their fellow statewide directors during the organization’s mid-November annual meeting at Stevens Point. Seen here (seated, L–R) are Vice Chairman Larry Dokkestul (Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services) and Chairman David Paudler (Riverland Energy), and (standing, L–R), William Fischer (Rock Energy), Elaine Eckendorf (Central Wisconsin Electric), and Diane Zimmerman (East Central Energy). Eckendorf was re-elected secretary-treasurer; Fischer and Zimmerman were re-elected to the executive committee.

Essay winners chosen
Three Wisconsin co-op essayists have qualified for scholarships to continue their educations.

The winners of the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association’s 2016 essay competition—held in conjunction with the annual Youth Leadership Congress at UW-River Falls—are Dalton Staller of New Lisbon, sponsored by Oakdale Electric; Jessica Patton of Lyndon Station, also sponsored by Oakdale Electric; and Aaron Schmidt of River Falls, sponsored by Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services.

Staller, a senior at Necedah High School, won top honors exploring the cooperative principle of voluntary and open membership. He told of a cooperative where membership gives Alaskans the opportunity to produce high-quality garments from musk ox underfur, and “the benefits of being members are readily apparent” to remote village residents who might otherwise need to relocate in order to find gainful employment.

Jessica Patton’s second-place entry analyzed the effects—accountability and involvement in decision-making—of democratic member control. This cooperative principle, she concluded, “appears to work for the betterment of the group.” Patton is a senior at Mauston High School.

Aaron Schmidt captured third place by interviewing people involved in co-op management and governance and pondering ways co-ops can better serve their communities by overcoming the reluctance of many members to engage in cooperative policy choices. Schmidt is a senior at River Falls High School.

The scholarships are valued at $1,000, $500, and $250, respectively, and the winning students can redeem them by showing proof of registration at any accredited university, college, or technical school.

Lawmakers rescue Illinois nukes
Commonwealth Edison ratepayers will subsidize the money-losing Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants, under legislation enacted in early December. The two downstate Illinois plants were facing early retirement June 1 this year and on the same date in 2018, respectively.

Now, June 1 will mark the beginning of a ratepayer subsidy Commonwealth Edison says will cost its average residential customer a maximum of 25 cents per month. Opponents argued that the ratepayer cost will be more than 18 times that amount. The subsidies—which Com Ed says are needed to preserve the plants’ carbon dioxide-free generation capacity of nearly 3,000 megawatts—attracted support from the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Environmental Defense Fund.

Over the past seven years, Com Ed has said, the Clinton and Quad Cities plants have lost a combined $800 million, much of that due to competition from inexpensive natural gas.

New York retail competition scrutinized
Dissatisfied with the results of retail electric competition established in 1999, New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) said last month it will hold hearings to determine whether changes are necessary to secure benefit for consumers.

Platts S&P Global quoted a commission spokesman saying the state “has seen substantial overcharges and deceptive practices by the [energy services companies or ESCOs]industry harming New York customers.” The report cited a PSC estimate that since 2014, New York consumers have paid energy marketers well over $800 million more than they would have paid for services from their incumbent utilities. Under New York’s retail choice program, ESCOs serve as alternative power suppliers and provide services such as energy efficiency consulting.