Youth Board | WECA Board Update | Magazine Awards | USDA Loan | Energy Costs


Youth Board elected by co-op peers

More than 100 high school students from around the state learned about cooperatives and the art of cooperation at the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association’s 55th annual Youth Leadership Congress at UW-River Falls in late July. Sponsored by their local electric cooperative, youth were led by a peer board.

Anibas elected to board position

Eau Claire Energy Cooperative Director Judith Anibas was elected secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA) board in August, the first step in filling a vacancy created by the resignation of a fellow director.

Derrick Oberle of St. Croix Electric Cooperative resigned his seat on the WECA board of directors in July, after accepting employment in another state.

Anibas will serve in her new position as a board officer at least through the WECA annual meeting in November, when an election will be held to choose a new director to fill the seat formerly held by Oberle. The board will reorganize immediately after that meeting, holding an election for all board officer positions.

Magazine is double award-winner

The Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News garnered two national awards in August, for individual articles judged best in their categories in a competition sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative
Association’s Statewide Editors’ Association (SEA).

Recognized as Best Editorial in the “SEA Willies” competition was “We don’t have customers” (March 2018), a concise explanation of the multiple ways that ownership by their members sets electric co-ops apart from other energy providers—and the difficulty non-co-op observers sometimes have grasping the member-owner concept.
Judged as Best News Feature was “Messages from Moscow” (May 2018), a deeply documented examination of Russian government manipulation of social and traditional media with the aim of aggravating domestic conflict in the United States and throwing up political roadblocks to U.S. energy development.

Judging criteria require Best Editorial entries (there were 15) to present “timely and relevant commentary expressing an opinion or showing leadership on any subject of importance to rural electric co-ops.” Best News Feature (27 entries) criteria call for “in-depth coverage of a subject or issue of importance to electric co-ops and their consumer-members.”

The competition was open to material published by statewide electric co-op organizations and individual cooperatives during the 12-month period from June 2017 through May of this year.

Bayfield to receive USDA loan

Bayfield Electric Cooperative will receive a $5,000,000 loan to help upgrade its distribution infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in August.

The financing will be used to build 14 miles of line, improve 30 miles, and make other system improvements. Included in the total amount is $198,000 to assist with deployment of smart grid projects, the department said. Bayfield Electric’s seven-county service area includes approximately 9,500 members served over 1,958 miles of line.

The loan is part of more than $345 million made available under the Electric Infrastructure Loan Program to facilitate 20 projects in 14 states. The program helps finance generation, transmission, and distribution projects; system improvements; and energy conservation projects in communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Downward trajectory of energy costs may have ended

Wisconsin ranks in the mid-range among the 50 states in terms of energy expenditures per unit of economic output, and a nationwide trend of decreasing energy expenditures is entirely attributable to lower-priced supplies, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports.

But the agency cautions that the trend may already have reversed itself, something that would be revealed as the data catches up.

Citing figures current through 2016—the latest year for which complete information is available—the EIA reported at the end of July that U.S. energy expenditures had declined for five straight years, totaling $1.0 trillion in 2016. The figure represents a 9 percent decrease from the prior year, the EIA said, adding that inflation-adjusted total energy expenditures in 2016 were the lowest since 2003.

Stated as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), total energy expenditures averaged 5.6 percent across the 50 states in 2016, the lowest percentage since at least 1970, the EIA said. Wisconsin’s expenditures were pegged at 7 percent of GDP.