WECA Hosts 85th Annual Meeting
Newly elected officers of the WECA board are, seated left to right: Dave Hischke, Oconto Electric, chair; and Karen Newbury, Price Electric, vice chair. Back row left to right: Craig Buros, Vernon Electric, executive committee; Mike Wade, Central Wisconsin Electric, executive committee; and Roger Wiff, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services, secretary-treasurer.
The 85th annual meeting of the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA) took place in person in Stevens Point. More than 150 directors, managers, and other co-op leaders from Wisconsin electric cooperatives gathered in November to discuss current issues, legislative proposals, and regulations affecting the industry.
At the WECA business meeting, the WECA board members elected at July’s district meetings were officially seated, including: Barbara Miller, Rock Energy Cooperative; Dan Smrekar, Jackson Electric Cooperative; Justin Jahnz, East Central Energy; Steve Johnson, Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative; and Karen Newbury, Price Electric Cooperative.
A highlight of the conference was a panel presentation about the value of engaging young people with electric co-ops through Youth Leadership Congress, internships, and more. The panel included former youth board member and Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services intern Will Tuchtenhagen; former youth board member from Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Tyler Tautges; Dunn Energy Cooperative General Manager and CEO Jesse Singerhouse, who attended the Youth Leadership Conference as a teen in 1991; and Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services President and CEO Nate Boettcher, an advocate for youth cooperative opportunities and engagement.
Nolde Receives ACE Award
WECA presented Byron Nolde, CEO of Oconto Electric Cooperative, the 2021 Ally of Cooperative Electrification (ACE) award at the annual meeting. In nominating him for the award, supporters cited Nolde’s leadership and experience, unwavering professionalism and integrity, and commitment to safety.
Nolde has also been recognized for his community engagement with multiple awards for his military support and business ethics. He also serves as a director on the RESCO board.
The ACE award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the electric cooperative industry.
Potthast Award Presented to Hallett
WECA presented Larry Hallett, chief operations officer of Richland Electric Cooperative, the 2021 Herman C. Potthast Award. Hallett’s career spans more than 40 years, progressing from linemen to management. Nominators laud Hallett’s unwavering commitment to safety over the course of his career.
The Herman C. Potthast Award recognizes outstanding service, dedication, leadership, and cooperation among electric cooperatives, focusing on safety.
N.F. Leifer Award Presented to Protz
At the WECA Annual Meeting, Deana Protz accepted the Leifer Award on behalf of Oakdale Electric Cooperative. Protz is the editor of Oakdale’s local magazine pages. Judges lauded her creativity in story ideas and layout and design and commended Oakdale for the “fun and relevant” content creation for members.
The N.F. Leifer Memorial Journalism Award recognizes outstanding achievement in communications on behalf of electric co-op members.
Federated Youth Foundation Reports Record Year
The Federated Youth Foundation (FYF) also held its annual meeting last month. FYF Treasurer Judi Anibas reported that during fiscal year 2020–21, contributions were at an all-time high of $1.37 million. In addition, the foundation distributed $993,000 in scholarships and charitable donations and distributed almost $727,000 back to member cooperative and endowment accounts.
Mike Wade and David Cramer were unanimously re-elected to three-year terms on the board with a voice vote.
Cardinal-Hickory Creek Line Construction Begins
Amid ongoing legal wrangling, construction of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line, which will run from Middleton to Dubuque, Iowa, kicked off in November. The project supports efforts to reduce emissions by building out the transmission infrastructure to ensure reliability while transitioning to more renewable energy. The Biden Administration has said the nation needs to increase transmission by 60 percent to meet clean energy goals. Dairyland Power Cooperative, American Transmission Co., and ITC Midwest are developers of the 102-mile line.
Legislators Consider Vehicle Charging Proposal
A Wisconsin Assembly committee recently heard testimony on a bill that would clarify rules related to the sale of electricity at electric vehicle charging stations. Assembly Bill 588 (Senate Bill 573) ensures that entities such as gas stations may provide EV charging stations for a fee without being classified as a utility. The bill also stipulates that the electricity must be supplied by a local utility. WECA and Dairyland Power Cooperative representatives testified in favor of the bill.