Today, a group of electricity distribution cooperatives launched the NextGen Co-op Alliance (NextGen), that focuses on increasing flexibility and the opportunity to partner with local communities on future energy needs. “Most distribution cooperatives are locked into one-sided Generation and Transmission (G&T) contracts spanning decades that are a relic of another time in the power supply business,” said Jessica Matlock, NextGen Chair and CEO of La Plata Electric Association in Durango, Colo. “Distribution cooperative members—many of whom are rural Americans—are getting left behind in the energy transition that offers more local control and community benefits, as well as cost-effective and cleaner energy solutions. We’re partnering together to identify and advance energy transition options that provide cooperatives with more local control and flexibility to help better position cooperatives and our communities in the new energy economy.” NextGen was formed to:
- Reform the outdated G&T business model that is a relic of another time where electrification at scale was the goal.
- Realign decision-making and governance at the community level. Rural communities should not just be the passive recipients of power; co-ops can assist in reaching community goals by developing their own approaches tailored to their own needs, leveraging and partnering with local resources, and better meeting member-owner desires.
- Restore balance to the relationship between distribution cooperatives and G&T cooperative power suppliers.
The NextGen members are working together to establish more equitable and flexible agreements with power providers – whether a G&T or an independent wholesaler. NextGen founding members are:
- Jessica Matlock, NextGen Chair CEO, La Plata Electric Association, Inc., Durango, Colo.
- Luis Reyes, NextGen Vice Chair CEO, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Taos, N.M.
- Ron Holcomb, NextGen Treasurer CEO, Tipmont Rural Electric Membership Corporation, Linden, Ind.
- Chad Felderman, NextGen Secretary CEO, Dakota Energy Cooperative, Huron, S.D.
- Brad Zaporski, NextGen Board Member
CEO, San Miguel Power Association, Ridgway, Colo. “Distribution co-ops exist to give their members what they want, not what they are restricted to do based on outdated, decades-long contracts with power providers,” said Luis Reyes, NextGen Vice Chair and CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative in Taos, N.M. “Community members across the country know what they want. Many want more locally generated power sources that can contribute to local economies. Some want cleaner energy. Some want new services like broadband and EV infrastructure. Co-ops have a duty to meet those member demands, unencumbered by G&T interference. Why should some communities be prevented from leveraging the competitive energy marketplace in order to secure favorable and stable wholesale power rates? It’s not right. It needs to change.”