CEO’s Report: Mid-West provides multitude of benefits, supports public power

We recently attended and participated in the Mid-West Electric Consumers Association Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.

After attending this important meeting, I thought it was a good time to remind our customers about the many benefits Mid-West provides and the value gained from membership.

A voice for federal hydropower consumers

Mid-West is a regional coalition of consumer-owned utilities, promoting and protecting the interests of federal power customers and their consumers within the Missouri River Basin. Members of Mid-West purchase power from the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA).

WAPA is one of four power marketing administrations (PMAs) that sell power from federal hydroelectric projects across the country.  WAPA markets power generated at 55 dams operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation. Additionally, WAPA owns over 17,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines.

Mid-West provides a strong voice for federal power customers and maintains a strong presence with members of Congress and close working relationships with regional and national associations.

Earlier this year when President Trump proposed to sell and privatize the federal PMA assets, Mid-West stepped up to ensure that didn’t happen. They effectively advocated on behalf of all those who benefit from the low-cost, reliable power and worked with members, such as Heartland, to spread the message.

Governed by board, guided by principle

A cornerstone of the federal power program is the preference principle, which gives rural electric cooperatives, municipal electric utilities, public power districts and other public bodies first right to purchase the power generated at federal multipurpose projects.

Embodied in more than 30 federal statutes going back to the beginning of this century, preference ensures that public resources will go to the consumers without passing through the “tollgates” of for-profit corporations. This principle and the cost-based rates of federal power provide a valuable yardstick in the electric utility industry that helps to assure low-cost power for all consumers.

Mid-West is governed by its members, with a 36-member board of directors made up of four directors from each represented state. Directors are nominated by their state caucuses at the annual meeting. The board meets four times throughout the year.

Mid-West’s activities are guided by policies developed by the membership. Resolutions are initially considered by the Resolutions Committee, which has five members from each state.

The Resolution Committee’s recommendations are then brought before the entire Mid-West membership for adoption at the annual meeting.

Mark Joffer

Heartland’s role in Mid-West

Heartland has been a member of Mid-West on behalf of our customers with WAPA allocations for nearly 40 years. Hydropower is a vital piece of the power supply portfolio for many of our customers.

We were excited to see Heartland Board President Mark Joffer elected to the Mid-West board in December. Heartland has not held a board seat for a few years and we felt it was in our customers’ best interest to obtain one of South Dakota’s open seats. One of the open seats was previously held by Jim Ryken, a board member of East River Electric Power Cooperative. Ryken graciously agreed not to run for re-election, allowing Heartland to obtain the open seat. East River CEO and General Manager Tom Boyko remains on the Mid-West board.

I encourage you to learn even more about Mid-West by visiting their website, especially if you have a WAPA allocation. All the presentations from the recent annual meeting are posted there for your review. A variety of topics were covered that were educational and informative.

If you have any questions about your Mid-West membership, please let us know.

We are looking forward to a successful New Year and wish you all the best in 2018!