As 2023 draws to a close, we've conducted our annual tally of the stories that drew the most readers to and throughout the course of the year. The No. 1 story goes back to the beginning of the year, when we shared the compelling photos of electric cooperatives taking part in coordinated safety stand-downs to honor a fallen lineworker. The list is rounded out by a collection of stories that illustrate a major theme of NRECA's editorial coverage this year—maintaining affordable, reliable electricity in a changing energy landscape.

1. Co-ops Pay Tribute to Fallen Line Apprentice With Renewed Focus on Safety

After the tragic death of line apprentice Blake Rodgers during winter storm restorations in Ohio in December 2022, lineworkers in more than a dozen states honored their fallen colleague with coordinated moments of silence and frank discussions on safety. Rodgers, 22, had been working to restore power on behalf of Rio Grande-based Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative when he suffered a fatal contact. Employees from at least 35 co-ops took part in the safety stand-downs.

2. What Does It Take to Get the Lights Back On? A Lineman’s Perspective

In July, NRECA shared the detailed, step-by-step outage restoration essay that Brandon Keesee, a journeyman lineman for Sikeston, Missouri-based SEMO Electric Cooperative, wrote for the co-op’s local pages of Rural Missouri, the statewide magazine. "Just know that your co-op and its linemen are doing their best to get the lights back on as quickly and safely as possible," Keesee said in his message to consumer-members. "Your cooperative and its employees are members of your community. We live in the same neighborhoods. We shop at the same stores. Our kids go to the same schools. If your lights are off, there is a good chance ours are off too."

3. FERC Commissioners Warn of Threats to Reliable Electricity

At a May hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission warned that the nation is facing unprecedented challenges to electric reliability—echoing the same message that NRECA has been repeatedly pushing to policymakers. “I think the United States is heading for a very catastrophic situation in terms of reliability,” Commissioner Mark Christie said at the hearing. “The core of the problem is actually very simple. We are retiring dispatchable generating resources at a pace and in an amount that is far too fast and far too great and is threatening our ability to keep the lights on.”

4. NERC Winter Reliability Report Warns of Electricity Shortages

More than half of the United States is at risk of electricity shortages this winter due to regional generation shortfalls, increased demand for power and potential fuel delivery challenges during sustained cold weather events, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. said in its Winter Reliability Assessment, released in November. The report “again shows that our nation faces looming grid reliability challenges while demand for electricity continues to soar,” NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said. “That’s unacceptable and should be cause for concern for all Americans.”

5.G&Ts Collaborate on First Recommissioned Nuclear Plant in U.S. History

Two generation cooperatives serving members in Michigan, Indiana and southeastern Illinois announced in September that they plan to meet future demand for electricity with the restart of a nuclear power plant that suspended operations last year. The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Michigan could become the country’s first utility-scale nuclear plant recommissioned to help meet demand for zero-emission electricity. Cadillac, Michigan-based Wolverine Power and Bloomington, Indiana-based Hoosier Energy have contracted with Holtec International for the total output from the 800-megawatt plant.

Wishing a safe and happy holiday season to and readers. We look forward to telling more co-op stories in 2024.