ORLANDO, Fla.—Curtis Wynn opened his NRECA presidency with a solid message for electric co-ops in the face of blazing change: acknowledge the industry's transformation, adapt and lead the way for consumer-members.

"During my tenure as president, I will be challenging all of us to fully examine the way we view our future, our individual cooperative's place in it, and how we can lead our co-ops and our communities into the next generation," Wynn told the final general session of NRECA's 77th Annual Meeting on March 13 in Orlando, Florida.

Wynn, the North Carolina director serving on the board, was elected to a two-year term to succeed Illinois Director Phil Carson.

As he takes the helm, Wynn will draw from his 38 years in the co-op family. Since 1997, he has served as president and CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative in Ahoskie, North Carolina, which is challenged by a rural, aging population, little if any growth, and extreme economic need.

“In spite of these very alarming facts, our board, our leadership team and our staff are embracing change and responding to our members’ call to serve them and our communities in new and exciting ways,” Wynn said.

That includes launching Roanoke Connect, a subsidiary to deliver broadband internet access and smart grid services to boost efficiency and reduce members' monthly bills.

"We acknowledge that by acting now, we have an amazing opportunity to create a brighter future for our co-ops and our member-consumers," Wynn said.

Going forward, he said co-ops must recognize three key dynamics:

  • Market forces and consumer expectations are the most significant drivers.
  • The future will demand sustainability and efficiency.
  • The future will require grid flexibility.

"Progressively placing ourselves on the member-consumer's side of the meter can provide non-traditional revenue streams, while protecting decades of time and effort to become their trusted energy adviser," Wynn said.

He offered assurances for success: Electric co-ops have a rich history of progress and cooperation among cooperatives reaching back eight decades, including numerous partner organizations and NRECA, their national champion.

"Our member-consumers are demanding more and more from us—whether it is more convenience, diversity of thought and perspectives, or evolving services," said Wynn.

"My simple suggestion is that we acknowledge that change is happening, act on it and lead through it."

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