CEO Message — February 2022

The Cooperative Difference

Brandon Wittman headshotOver the years, you've read and heard me expound on why and how Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative(YVEC), Inc. is different - because we are a cooperative. I feel strongly the cooperative business model is the best business model on earth. However, like any enterprise, it is up to the human beings who work at the co-op, who serve on the board, and members like you to ensure that the principles and values of the cooperative do not fade over time. YVEC strives to be thought of as a member-owned business that gives you the best value of any utility. If we succeed, our communities thrive, and you place value on being a member.

Electric co-ops, including YVEC, have a unique and storied place in our country's history. We democratized the American dream by bringing electricity to rural areas when for-profit companies determined the effort too costly. Back then, cities were electrified, and rural areas were not, creating the original rural-urban divide. Newly established electric facilities helped power economic opportunity in rural areas. Today, that spirit of inclusion is a vital part of our co-op DNA.

When our co-op was founded, each member contributed an equal share in order to gain access to electricity that benefited individual families as well as the larger local community. Each member then had an equal vote in co-op matters. That sense of equity is still how we operate today. YVEC was built by and belongs to the diverse communities and consumer-owners we serve. Membership is open to everyone in our service territory, regardless of race, religion, age, disability, language, political perspective or socioeconomic status. By virtue of paying your electric bill each month, you're a member of the co-op and every member has an equal voice and vote when it comes to co-op governance. This ties back to our guiding principles of equitable economic participation and democratic control of the cooperative.

We know members of the community have different needs and perspectives, and we encourage and welcome diverse views on all issues under consideration by the co-op. The more viewpoints we hear, the better we are able to reflect the needs of all comers of our service area. We also invite all members to attend our upcoming Annual Meeting (March 31st) weigh in on discussions and vote in YVEC's director elections.

While our top priority is providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy, we also want to be a catalyst for good in our communities. Because we are your local electric cooperative, revenues stay right here in the communities we serve. In tum, we invest in our diverse community base through scholarship programs, charitable giving like Operation RoundUp and educational programs. We strive to make long-term decisions that improve and enrich the communities in our service area.

Today's world is radically different than it was 83 years ago when YVEC was founded. Our cooperative values have stood the test of time and remain just as relevant today. We recognize that today's members have varied expectations and needs than that of the original members. We pledge to continue promoting the cooperative culture of inclusion and democratic control.


Brandon J. Wittman
CEO / General Manager