Youth Board members elected
Sponsored by local electric cooperatives across the state, more than 120 students took part in this summer’s 54th Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA) Youth Leadership Congress at UW-River Falls. Here, students participate in a team-building exercise, and the freshly elected WECA Youth Board for the coming year poses for their first portrait together, seen l-r, William Tuchtenhagen, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services; Conor O’Donnell, Oakdale Electric; Sam Peterson, Oakdale Electric; Gracelyn Footit, Adams-Columbia Electric; Brady Coullthard, Clark Electric; and Darien Traczyk, Barron Electric. The annual event brings high school students together with top-flight speakers to learn the principles behind the cooperative business model and the fundamentals of organizing and operating a co-op. The elected board takes on the responsibility of planning the following year’s event.
Jump River names new manager
James Anderson, formerly of Tanner Electric Cooperative in North Bend, Washington, was named in August as the new general manager at Jump River Electric Cooperative. Anderson was to take over the duties from David Oelkers, who had been leading the Ladysmith-based co-op on an interim basis since April.
Anderson, who has worked for investor-owned utilities and cooperatives in Oregon and Montana, had been operations and engineering manager at Tanner Electric. He brings experience in electric generation, transmission, distribution, metering, substation construction and maintenance; holds journeyman classifications as a lineman and substation wireman; and is also a meter/relay technician.
Jump River Electric serves more than 8,400 rural members over 1,759 miles of distribution line in parts of Barron, Chippewa, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, and Taylor Counties.
Price Director Klassen passes
A private memorial service was planned for Price Electric Cooperative Director Kirk Klassen, who died of complications of cancer at his rural Prentice home July 26, at age 58.
An Iowa native, Klassen had been a U.S. Navy submariner and a Wisconsin resident since his 1997 retirement from the military.
He was elected to the Price Electric board in 2013 and was re-elected to a second term last year. He is survived by Sharon, his wife of 39 years, two adult sons, and one brother.
Green, FERC nominees confirmed
Former Wisconsin Congressman Mark Green won U.S. Senate confirmation in August as administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association CEO Steve Freese—who shared a Capitol office with Green during the 1990s when both served in the state Assembly—said Green’s appointment will strengthen the partnership through which U.S. electric co-op volunteers working through USAID have brought electric power to more than 120 million people in 43 countries over the past 55 years.
Green, who served four terms in Congress before running unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, subsequently served as U.S. ambassador to Tanzania.
Meanwhile, former National Rural Electric Cooperative Association lobbyist Neal Chatterjee was confirmed by the Senate in August to fill a vacancy on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Chatterjee’s confirmation, along with those of two additional nominees, restores a quorum to the five-member regulatory panel that had been unable to conduct substantive business since February because of vacancies. The FERC oversees federal permitting for electric transmission and pipelines and has a major role in regulation of interstate wholesale power markets.
Consumers losing in Illinois retail competition
The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has determined that residential customers choosing alternative electricity suppliers are paying significantly higher prices than those staying with their incumbent utility.
In July, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that for the 12 months ending May 31, Chicago-area households using alternative suppliers paid $152 million more than if they’d stayed with Commonwealth Edison.
The 2011 start of residential retail competition in Illinois brought substantial consumer savings that have since been negated by year-on-year price increases beginning in 2014, the ICC found.