CEO Message — January 2022

Your Cooperative Network

Brandon Wittman headshotYellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc. (YVEC) works diligently to make sure all our members have the electric power they need at the best possible price. Just for a moment, I want to give you a look behind the scenes and perhaps provide a glimpse into the network of cooperatives and other businesses which we've formed with the sole purpose of making sure "Our Members Are Our Mission."

YVEC is a part of the Basin Electric Power Cooperative Family. Basin is one of the largest cooperatives in the United States. They are a generation and transmission cooperative. In other words, they create and ship the majority of power that we purchase at YVEC. We are one of 140 member co-ops that make up Basin. Additionally, in order to have more control over power supply, pricing, and other local issues, we are also of member of Central Montana Electric Power Cooperative. Central is made up of 8 local electric distribution co-ops, such as Park Electric in Livingston and Big Flat Electric in Malta. Central is a "Class A" member of Basin. They represent YVEC's interests at Basin on the Board level and on various committees and working groups.

It also takes a lot of capital to run an electric co-op, so when we need to borrow money; we typically turn to either the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC) or CoBank. Both of these organizations are also cooperatives. CFC is owned by electric cooperatives throughout the country and CoBank is owned by electric and agricultural co-ops nationwide. They are both an excellent source of funding and provide very competitive terms. As access to capital is imperative to YVEC, I have focused my efforts into this area of the co-op world. I have the absolute honor of serving on the Board of Directors at CoBank.

We use the National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) to ensure timely and accurate bills, while implementing the latest innovative technology, to help lower your energy costs and improve efficiency. NISC provides the software and support we use for mapping, staking, service orders, and many other important tasks.

No business can operate without several different types of insurance, such as general liability, auto, and worker's compensation. So once again, along with other electric cooperatives across the country, we are members of Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange Cooperative. This cooperative allows us to maintain reliable insurance coverage at an incredibly affordable price.

It also takes a lot of"stuff" to operate an electric co-op, such as poles, wires, transformers, and many other items that you may not see. That is why we have partnered with Border States Electric and formed a strategic business relationship. Essentially all of our materials are handled by Border States on a consignment basis. BSE stocks our warehouses with all the material we need to operate. However, we don't actually get billed for that material until we take it off our shelves and install it in the field. This very efficient program saves money and improves the availability of the "stuff' we need to provide great service.

YVEC is also a member of Touchstone Energy, a nationwide alliance of750 local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives. Our participation allows us access to a wealth of informational materials. It also provides us with a benchmark of performance in comparison to other co-ops so that we can grow and learn from others as we constantly strive to serve you better.

So, while you are a member of one electric cooperative, you are actually connected to many other co-ops and businesses. Being connected to this cooperative network ensures your needs are met in the most efficient way possible. This entire network of cooperatives operates on a not-for-profit basis, just like YVEC. These co-ops are mission-based and member-focused, which aligns quite well with our focus on providing safe, reliable, and affordable power to all of the communities we serve.

Happy New Year!

Brandon J. Wittman
CEO / General Manager