CEO Message – May 2023

"While many consider the Cooperative Business Model a hidden gem in today’s business world, we use it as our secret weapon for the greater good."

We've all seen movies, television shows and possibly cartoons where the main character, usually the hero, has a secret weapon. The hero often holds out, before being forced to use that weapon, which typically wins the day and helps the greater good.

Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative has that very item, and we most definitely use it for the greater good. Our secret weapon is the Cooperative Business Model, and it doesn’t just make us different, it makes us better.

There are almost 900 electric cooperatives across the United States; the average of the 900 serves 8 meters per mile of line. That same average for Investor-Owned Utilities and Municipal Utilities is 32 meters per mile of line. The only way that we compete with that and outperform those companies, is the Cooperative Business Model itself.

We are cost-based, if we make a profit, it goes back to our members only, not to investors who could be anywhere in the world. We are member owned, members and the communities we serve are our only focus, and the success of the communities we serve is imperative to the success of the cooperative. We are democratically member controlled. Our Board of Directors are YVEC members of the cooperative who are elected by the membership themselves.

So, how are we performing? Currently, the average residential member of our cooperative uses 1,400 kWh of electricity a month. At that usage, we are $30 less per month than the local investor-owned utility. By comparison, our members pay less at that rate of usage. At 2,000 kWh per month, we are $50 less per month. That is an incredible savings for our members! Additionally, YVEC ranks in the top 5% in the entire United States regarding power outage minutes per meter. Our average outage time is 50 minutes per meter, per year. That same average for all the cooperatives in the U.S. is 207 minutes and over 400 average minutes per year for the co-ops in Montana. While we are consistently working to maintain our utility plant, our system has never been in better condition and the power quality we provide is evidence of that. YVEC has invested $44M in our plant since 2011. That investment not only improves service for existing members, but it also provides us with the capacity to serve future load in high growth areas across our system. Our work plan takes a deep dive look into the future and helps us stay ahead in terms of electric service and customer service alike. (35439000)

While many consider the Cooperative Business Model a hidden gem in today’s business world, we use it as our secret weapon for the greater good.

Brandon J. Wittman
Chief Executive Officer