Taking Leadership Seriously
Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative is the second largest electric cooperative in Montana. Additionally, we are the fastest growing electric co-op in the state. Our proximity to Billings fuels that growth. Many of the new subdivisions in an around Billings are in our service territory. In fact, we've seen such consistent residential growth over recent years that we are now experiencing a bit of a boom in the commercial sector with various products and service offerings. Construction is underway for the new Albertson's Grocery on the far Westend of Billings and will be a new neighbor to The Den and Diamond X; both are new thriving commercial businesses served by YVEC.
YVEC surpassed the 20,000-meter mark in November 2017 and we currently have over 22,000 services in place, eclipsing that number in April 2022. This trend of growth is not only continuing, but it also seems to be getting stronger. We installed an all-time record 624 new services in 2021, which was a 43% increase over the new installations in 2020. With less-than-ideal weather conditions this spring, our numbers for new services continue to parallel the record numbers of last year. (25083000)
Just as YVEC's footprint in the area increases, so do our responsibilities to the many communities we serve. We don't just provide power, we empower those we serve to improve their lives. From giving almost $30,000 per year in scholarships, buying admission tickets for area 4-H participants at Montana Fair, to sponsoring the Youth Tour to Washington D.C., being the major sponsor of the Billings Chamber Ag Appreciation Celebration to the very successful Operation Round Up program. We take our responsibility to support the communities we serve quite seriously. In addition, many of our employees volunteer and work in the various communities where they live and serve. Having healthy vibrant communities is important to all of us.
I think Winston Churchill said it best. "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." I too have served in several areas as a volunteer. I have coached youth sports, served on several area non-profit boards, and remain active on committees, boards and other groups at the cooperative level. Recently however, I have been able to support the cooperative business model in a much larger capacity. I was elected to and serve on the Boards of CoBank and the Farm Credit Council.
CoBank is a national cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communication providers in all 50 states. CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture and the nation's rural economy. In addition to serving its direct retail borrowers, the bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving approximately 70,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country. CoBank is headquartered just outside Denver. Colorado.
I am a very strong believer in the cooperative business model and it is with great pride that I serve on the CoBank Board. I represent the Northwest District and I am extremely proud to have recently been elected as the Vice-Chairman of the Board. I obviously have a strong background in the rural infrastructure sector, but also recognize that much of YVEC's service territory is agricultural. I look forward to helping further empower electric cooperatives and rural America alike.
Brandon J. Wittman
Chief Executive Officer