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Quick Fact: OPALCO’s Industry Association Memberships and Co-op Benefits

How does the Co-op benefit from OPALCO’s membership with industry associations?

As a small electric cooperative, OPALCO benefits from the larger capacity, resources and reach of several industry associations to help represent and inform the Coop on key issues, provide benefits and training opportunities to our team, maximize power purchasing, and develop and share resources in the region including renewable projects and technical tools and expertise.

What associations is OPALCO involved in?

Washington Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (WRECA) – represents 20 small electric cooperatives and mutual companies throughout Washington state and provides the following benefits:

    • Monitors and keeps OPALCO informed on state legislation affecting cooperatives
    • Each cooperative then has an opportunity to respond for their service territory – local control is maintained by each service territory
    • Cooperatives may have different needs than other utilities and must be at the table to represent small, rural Washington power providers

Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative (PNGC) – a regional electric generation and transmission cooperative owned by 16 distribution co-ops across seven western states and provides the following benefits:

    • Every watt of BPA power consumed in San Juan County is purchased through PNGC. 
    • Maximizes the buying power of regional cooperatives for their collective power supply
    • Will utilize the collective to negotiate more advantageous terms with the upcoming Bonneville Power Association contract renewal (2028)
    • Help navigate towards carbon-free resources to develop and share resources, especially as new renewable energy sources become available
    • Reviews and manages current power contract terms and agreements

National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NRECA) – represents more than 900 consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives, public power districts, and public utility districts in the United States and provides the following benefits:

    • Provides benefit plans to OPALCO employees and board including healthcare, 401k and retirement plans, education and training, certification programs, safety programs and many other resources
    • Supports and protects community and business interests of electric cooperatives
    • Works to anticipate and respond to changes in technology, law and public policy and support local rural economic development
    • Creates a nationwide network of co-ops to share resources and best practices
    • Provides national job network for hiring and recruiting

Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) – not-for-profit association of more than 150 public/people’s utility districts, electric cooperatives, municipalities, and Crown corporations in the Western U.S. and Canada. Provides the following benefits:

    • Offers utility worker training, certifications and regional conferences
    • Access to industry production, services, technologies, communications and a network of key professionals
    • Regional job network for hiring and recruiting

The OPALCO staff team is highly qualified, well trained and working at a high level of professionalism and technical expertise – but we are a small team in numbers by design.  The benefits and added capacity of these industry associations keep us operating safely, efficiently and cost effectively for the benefit of the membership. The value of these benefits is significant and provide members with significant cost savings compared to self funding programs such as employee benefits, training and advocacy through rates. While Co-op leadership may not agree with an association’s position on every issue, we have a voice at the table and will continue to advocate for key issues.