THREE ELECTED TO WECA BOARD
Three candidates were nominated and elected, unopposed, to the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA) board of directors. New board members are Dan Hillberry, Richland Electric Cooperative director; Craig Buros, CEO/manager of Vernon Electric Cooperative; and Joe Metro, Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative director. A bylaws change adopted at the WECA annual meeting in November created four districts for the organization and added the vacancies.
WISCONSIN REPRESENTED AT NRECA ANNUAL MEETING IN NEW ORLEANS
Nearly 10,000 electric co-op leaders from across the country attended the recent National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) annual meeting in New Orleans. Participants heard presentations on industry and technology innovations and issues and voted on member-generated resolutions to guide the organization.
Adrian Rodriguez, Wisconsin’s youth representative sponsored by Oakdale Electric Cooperative, encouraged attendees to register for the Co-ops Vote program. The program is a non-partisan project of the nation’s electric cooperatives to inform members about key issues facing electric co-ops and encourage them to vote.
WECA BROADBAND RESOLUTION ADOPTED AT NRECA ANNUAL MEETING
Delegates at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Annual Meeting voted overwhelmingly to adopt a broadband resolution submitted by the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association.
Resolution 8-A urges NRECA to take a prominent leadership and advocacy role in the U.S. Congress, with the administration, and at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure cooperatives have the ability to provide broadband voluntarily, on their own, or in partnership with other local providers in rural America.
Under the resolution, NRECA will advocate for reforms in the FCC’s National Broadband Map to more effectively utilize state and federal investment in rural broadband. This is important because census block reporting by telecommunication providers vastly overstates coverage since an entire area is counted as “covered” if, in reality, only one household actually has service. Like the general census, a more accurate picture of who has coverage can affect who is eligible for programs and funding.
According to the resolution, “…we support more accurate federal mapping using granular data and/or other available information to better reflect actual broadband services and speeds provided. Leadership from NRECA is critical to present a unified voice for America’s electric cooperatives by working together with other rural/industry advocates…”
Delegates approved the resolution by a vote of 566 to 22.
WECA JOINS COALITION TO FIGHT LEGAL CHALLENGE TO NEMADJI TRAIL PROJECT
The Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA), Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Utilities Association, Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group, and Cooperative Network filed an amicus brief in support of the Nemadji Trail Energy Center project.
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission voted last month to approve construction of the $700 million renewable-enabling Nemadji Trail Energy Center, which will be constructed in Superior by Dairyland Power Cooperative and Duluth-based Minnesota Power. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission also previously approved the plant, but an appeals court intervened and ordered the agency to conduct an environmental review.
The legal dispute challenges the constitutionality of the Minnesota court’s attempt to require an environmental review for a project based out of state.
In asking the court to grant a Petition for Review and overturn the decision to require the review, the
coalition brief states, “Multi-state entities that are regulated in any fashion by any Minnesota agency are rightfully concerned with the breadth and scope of this reasoning. Any project that physically crosses state lines will certainly be subject to additional uncertainty.”
The 625-megawatt Nemadji Trail center is part of the plan by the utilities to increase wind and solar sources and move away from coal plants. According to Dairyland Power, the combined-cycle natural gas facility will serve as the “power behind the power” supporting renewable energy investments, and providing reliability when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.
The Nemadji Trail Energy Center is scheduled to be in service by 2025.