CEO Message — May 2021

Posted: Monday, May 3, 2021, 12:00 am

Stable Rates and Growth Continues

Brandon Wittman headshotPause for a moment and think back over the last ten years. The changes that typically occur within a decade are significant when considering that amount of time. When one reflects back, perhaps many small variations add up to a noticeable difference. Change is all around us. From fashion to technology and even the dreaded inflation. Nothing seems to just stay the same. However, one thing has not changed for Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative (YVEC) members over the last 10 years and that would be our rate.

For most of us, May 2011 probably isn't necessarily a memorable month or point in time. Unless a significant personal event occurred, that month was likely similar to any other May over the past ten years. So, why is May 2011 of note at YVEC? That is the date of our last rate adjustment. Which means we have gone a full ten years without a rate increase and are starting on our 11th year! How many businesses do you know that can honestly state that they have not increased their prices in over 10 years?

Operating 10 years without an increase is impressive but considering the amount of growth and investment that has taken place within our utility plant, the absence of a rate increase seems highly unlikely.

A tremendous amount of thought and effort has gone into strengthening our financial positioning, while growing faster than any other co-op in Montana. Improvements to our inventory system, the method by which we pay our wholesale power bill and some loan consolidations have helped not only improve our efficiency, but it created an outstanding financial foundation for YVEC.

Additionally, we have leaned heavily on the use of technology with state-of-the-art equipment. Every employee can connect and view our system in real-time on any electrical device, which makes them more responsive to issues like outages or other hazards. In the field and office, our equipment is continually maintained, allowing our employees the ability to do their jobs with the utmost efficiency. However, our employees are the real key to everything we do. They are the true backbone to our Co-op. It is their work and willingness to do whatever it takes to keep the lights on, that makes us great. This team of individuals has become one of the most efficient co-op work groups in the country. YVEC serves 430 members per employee, while the average for all co-ops in the U.S. is 308 members per employee. That is exactly why we are able to keep our rates stable for 10 years and counting.

When we say "Our Mission Is Our Members" we live by it.

Below is a list of a few milestones on YVEC's system of the last 10 years:

  • An increase in our kilowatt-hour (kWh) sales from 249 M Kwh to 290 M Kwh
  • An increase in our wholesale power costs from $18.1 M to $20.3 M
  • An increase in the number of meters served from 17,148 to 21,103
  • Plant additions of over $25.7 M from $69 M to more than $95.5 M

Brandon J. Wittman
CEO / General Manager