Electric cooperative leaders gather to advocate for their members
(MAPLE GROVE, MINN) – The Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) recently held its annual meeting and celebrated 80 years of service to electric cooperatives across the state.
In addition to conducting its required business, the meeting featured a legislative panel, including GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, DFL Senate Assistant Minority Leader Nick Frentz, DFL Representative Zack Stephenson and GOP House Deputy Minority Leader Ann Neu Brindley. The leaders discussed their positions and opportunities to come together on issues like carbon capture technology, removing barriers to broadband deployment, creating a more sustainable energy conservation program and transportation funding.
Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen highlighted the significant impact of agriculture on Minnesota’s economy and discussed the Department’s recommendations to increase the use of biofuels, provide more support for the hemp industry and expand meat processing, all of which could increase the demand for energy.
“Although the pandemic impacted all sectors of the economy in the past year, including providing the essential service of electricity, Minnesota’s electric cooperatives delivered on their commitment of providing safe, reliable and affordable energy to 1.7 million member-consumers in all 87 counties of the state,” says MREA Board Chair Wes Waller (North Itasca Electric Cooperative – Bigfork, Minn.)
In reflecting on the collective efforts of Minnesota’s electric cooperatives, MREA President and CEO Darrick Moe commented on the significance of the electric cooperative’s role in safely delivering reliable and affordable electricity to our neighbors. Moe says, “For the last 80 plus years, electric cooperatives have worked diligently to provide tools, resources and technologies to enhance the quality of life for their members and the communities they serve.”
MREA directors from districts 2, 3, 5 and 7 were up for re-election. All incumbent MREA directors were re-elected.
- District 2 re-elected Barb Welty from Mille Lacs Energy (Aitkin, Minn.)
- District 3 re-elected Tim Velde from Minnesota Valley Cooperative Light & Power Association (Montevideo, Minn.)
- District 5 re-elected Ron Schwartau from Nobles Cooperative Electric (Worthington, Minn.)
- District 7 re-elected Ken Fiereck from Connexus Energy (Ramsey, Minn.)
Tim Velde, Minnesota Valley Cooperative Light & Power Association and MREA board director, was also re-elected to serve a two-year term on the board of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). NRECA is the national trade association representing nearly 900 local electric cooperatives, which in turn provide power to 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.
ABOUT THE MINNESOTA RURAL ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION
The Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) is a nonprofit trade association serving Minnesota’s electric cooperatives. MREA provides legislative and regulatory representation, director and employee education programs, technical training for electric cooperative line workers, and serves as the focal point for cooperation among cooperatives. Minnesota’s 44 distribution cooperatives serve about 1.7 million Minnesotans in all 87 counties and operate the largest distribution network in the state with more than 135,000 miles of electric lines.