CEO Message – February 2023

There Is Strength in Stability

"However, we entered this difficult period in excellent financial position along with an electric system integrity that is superior to any previous time in our history."

Brandon Wittman headshotEconomically speaking, the recent past has been difficult for individuals and businesses alike. From supply chain struggles to sustained inflation, the struggle has literally been real for all of us. We’ve seen volatility at the gas pump, large increases in most commodities resulting in a noticeable change in groceries and other products like metal and lumber. Throw in quarterly interest rate hikes, continuous labor shortages, we’ve seen the perfect storm rage for much longer than most experts predicted. In our corner of the world, many local businesses have been faced with some difficult choices like whether to raise prices and for some the ultimate difficult decision of shutting the front door, either temporarily or permanently.

Through this storm of simultaneous events, Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative (YVEC) has remained steadfast in many ways. Our employees have remained engaged and loyal to our constant goal of excellent service. We have not been faced with any labor turnover, in fact, we’ve added 7 employees over the last 2 years, and we continue to have 100% in-office/field participation. Additionally, even with some supply chain struggles, we have not had to suspend any line extensions, new service installations or plant maintenance. Making some significant pro-active purchases prior to the labor and supply issues has been extremely advantageous for YVEC, many other utilities were not so fortunate and did suspend adding new services until this summer. Finally, we’ve also been exposed to price increases for things like diesel fuel, poles, wires and especially transformers. However, we entered this difficult period in excellent financial position along with an electric system integrity that is superior to any previous time in our history. Due to some great work by our employees and excellent foresight by the staff and Board of Trustees, we’ve not only weathered this long storm, but we’ve also thrived throughout this period of time.

Since 2020 YVEC has added over 1,100 new services, sold record amounts of killowatt-hour's (Kwh) and had the lowest power outage statistics in the state. However, the most important accomplishment of all is the continuation of stable rates to our members, who have seen price increases everywhere else in their lives. YVEC has not only maintained their rates through this turbulent time, but we have also done so since 2011. Going 12 years without a rate increase is a great accomplishment, however considering the growth pressure we’ve experienced in addition to the economic challenges of the past 2 years, and stable rates for 12 years becomes an amazing feat. YVEC is not only proud of our business performance, but we are also pleased to be a stabilizing factor to the members and communities we serve. We continue to be well positioned to handle challenges from the economy to the weather. Power. Purpose. Tradition. That’s not just a slogan, it’s our compass for continued success.

Brandon J. Wittman
Chief Executive Officer