YLC Goes Virtual | Dairyland Wind Farm | Electric Co-ops Score High in Survey | Co-ops Receive $96,000 for Safety Training | Entities Apply for Energy Grants | Biden Signs Executive Orders on Energy & Environment


Youth Leadership Congress Goes Virtual

The Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association announced that the 2021 Youth Leadership Congress (YLC) will be held virtually as the state continues its recovery from the pandemic. The two-day event is set for July 13–14 from 8 a.m. until noon both days. Participating students will receive a welcome package with a T-shirt and other YLC preparation materials prior to the event.

Next year, YLC is scheduled to take place July 12–14, 2022, at UW-River Falls, where it has been held in the past.

For more information, contact Tina Walden at tina@weca.coop.

Dairyland Expands Clean Energy Portfolio with Wind Farm

Dairyland Power Cooperative has entered into a power purchase agreement with Tatanka Ridge Wind Farm near Brookings, South Dakota. The farm will provide 51.6 MW of renewable energy to Dairyland, enough to power 16,000 homes.

“Dairyland is pleased to work with Avangrid Renewables and WEC Energy Group on an efficient and sustainable facility that supports our transition to a lower carbon future,” said Brent Ridge, Dairyland president and CEO. “Diversification of resources is a key element of Dairyland’s Sustainable Generation Plan, making Tatanka Ridge a valuable addition to our cooperative’s renewable energy portfolio.”

Tatanka Ridge is an Avangrid Renewables project, with the capacity to provide 155 MW of renewable energy. This is Dairyland’s third wind energy collaboration with the company. Previous project partnerships include Barton Wind and Winnebago Wind, both in Iowa.

Electric Cooperatives Score High in 2020 Survey

Electric cooperatives participating in Touchstone Energy Cooperative’s Survey on the Cooperative Difference scored 13 points higher than investor-owned and municipal counterparts in the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

According to the survey results, electric cooperatives averaged a score of 85, compared to 72 for investor-owned utilities and municipal utilities. The 2020 survey results were compiled from nearly 11,500 interviews with members of 47 co-ops in 17 states.

Survey respondents who identified themselves as “members” other than “customers” were more likely to give co-ops higher scores. Older members tend to score the co-ops higher than younger members do, but scores rose by four points over the 2019 survey for the 35–44 age group.

Co-ops Receive $96,000 to Offset Safety Training

The Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA) has accepted a loss control contribution check for more than $96,000 from the Federated Rural Insurance Exchange, on behalf of members. The check is typically presented during WECA’s Education and Lobby Days event, which did not take place this year due to the pandemic.

“I would like to thank the Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange for these funds, which will help our electric cooperatives offset safety department expenses,” said WECA President and CEO Stephen Freese. “Safety is our top priority, and participation in education and training is key to avoiding injury and death in this industry.”

For the period of 2000–2020, Federated Rural Electric Insurance has returned a total of $1,897,642 in loss control contribution dollars to Wisconsin electric cooperatives to offset investments in safety training.

Entities Apply for Energy Innovation Grants

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Office of Energy Innovation says it received 108 applications requesting more than $24 million for the 2021 Energy Innovation Grant Program. The PSC will award $7 million in grants for energy-related projects that will reduce energy consumption, increase clean energy and transportation technologies, bolster preparedness and resiliency in the energy system, and incorporate comprehensive energy planning.

In 2018, the PSC funded 31 projects out of 100 applicants, for a total of $5 million.

In evaluating the applicants, the PSC is considering the energy savings, additional funds leveraged and economic impact, equitable distribution of projects and benefits, innovation, and improvement of Wisconsin’s energy resiliency.

The PSC is expected to announce recipients of the latest round of funds this spring.

Biden Signs Executive Orders on Energy and Environment

In the first weeks of his presidency, as expected, Joe Biden signed executive orders aimed at fueling his climate change platform by increasing offshore wind, boosting transmission, and ending fossil fuel subsidies. Biden has named climate change one of the four crises he hopes to tackle during his administration, along with the pandemic, the economy, and racial inequality.

“Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” was one of three executive orders the president signed as he works to reach the goal of 100 percent clean electricity in the United States by 2035. It also calls for electrifying the federal vehicle fleet, reviewing mining and drilling activities on public lands, and directing federal investments toward creating new job opportunities for fossil fuel workers. The order calls for doubling U.S. offshore wind capacity by 2030, and directing infrastructure planning to accelerate transmission and clean energy buildout. Biden’s orders also re-establish the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.