Our Cooperative Response to COVID-19 with Jeff Wadsworth, CEO of Poudre Valley REA
Jeff Wadsworth, President and CEO of Poudre Valley REA sits down with our host, Bazi Kanani, to discuss how his cooperative has responded to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across our cooperative family, amazing work is being done by our members as business practices have pivoted in an effort to tackle challenges related to COVID-19. As part of this series, Bazi Kanani sits down with the CEOs from our member electric cooperatives and public power districts to discuss how they are responding during this difficult time.
Poudre Valley REA (PVREA) serves 45 thousand homes and businesses across northern Colorado. Jeff Wadsworth explains what PVREA is doing to keep the lights on in the midst of a global pandemic. In unprecedented times, his cooperative may be operating differently than normal but are still able to provide outstanding service to their members ad deliver upon their mission.
To learn more about what PVREA is doing in their communities, watch the video below.
Read the Interview Transcript Here
"We were able to donate a good amount of iPads that they've been able to use to be able to do those crucial conversations, in a time when they can't be together. We certainly want them to be able to have those conversations among loved ones"
Bazi: In northern Colorado, Poudre Valley REA serves 45,000 homes and businesses across three counties. During this viral pandemic, with so much sudden change, so much unknown, we're learning more about how cooperatives like PVREA are responding, making sure vital electricity is something their communities can count on.
Joining this video call is Jeff Wadsworth. He is the President and CEO of Poudre Valley REA. Jeff, first off, can you just summarize for us some of the key parts of your response?
Jeff: As we are an essential service, one of our focus absolutely has been keeping the lights on. And really, what that looked like for us is to move our operations department and our linemen into groups and have them report at job sites directly, rather than coming into the office. Office personnel, we are able to stand that up through some really amazing work of our technology department. All of us are able to work from home, and still be able to provide outstanding service to our members, and really keep our mission.
Bazi: And I understand this pandemic struck just as you were preparing for your annual meeting.
Jeff: Yes, our annual meeting, it's a significant event for us, really a milestone each year. We have over 2,000 people who typically attend our annual meeting. And within a few weeks before our annual meeting, we moved into our pandemic response. So we moved to a virtual annual meeting, and what that was like was we had over a thousand people be able to participate in our annual meeting. We were even able to do door prizes and were able to provide updates to our members in a timely basis, and were also able to hold an election.
Bazi: Door prizes are an important tradition. And speaking of traditions, showing concern for community has always been important to cooperatives, to their employees, and there at Poudre Valley REA, you found a really sweet way to support a local hospital.
Jeff: We did. We were able to donate a good amount of iPads that they've been able to use to be able to do those crucial conversations, in a time when they can't be together. We certainly want them to be able to have those conversations among loved ones. It's just incredible for us and very moving for us to be able to be a part of that just a little bit, and helping some of our members be able to have discussions that they couldn't do face-to-face.
Bazi: That's certainly an example of cooperative values at work. Are there other ways that you would say that being a cooperative has impacted your response?
Jeff: Absolutely, and much in a positive way. There are over 800-plus cooperatives across our nation. We work at a national, regional and state-level together, sharing our ideas, trying to come up with best practices. And certainly, our wholesale provider, Tri-State G&T, has provided us some really good information regarding small businesses and things that they could be doing when it comes to economic development and certainly any of the stimulus that has come from the Federal Government that we've been able to pass on to our small businesses. Really in the hopes to give them a hand up during this situation.
Bazi: Jeff Wadsworth, the President and CEO of Poudre Valley REA. Thanks for you time, Jeff.
Jeff: You're more than welcome. Thank you.
COVID-19 Community Response
As a family of electric cooperatives and public power districts, our distribution members reach consumers at the end of the line, many of whom have been directly impacted by COVID-19. To learn about our response, how our members are responding and the amazing work being done in communities across the West, watch our videos and read the articles here.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 46 members, including 43 member utility electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in four states, that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West. For more information about Tri-State and our Responsible Energy Plan, visit www.tristate.coop.