Cooperative Utilities: A Benefit to Business and Community

When choosing a location for a business, access to reliable, low-cost energy is a primary consideration. Affordable power reduces operating expenses from the start. That’s one reason Wyoming is an attractive state for business — it has a history of providing lower electric rates than the national average.

Powder River Energy Corporation (PRECorp) is a mainstay in eastern Wyoming, offering some of the lowest residential electric rates around. The independent, nonprofit electric cooperative provides reliable, at-cost energy to nearly 12,000 members.

The difference between electric providers may not be readily apparent but it becomes stark when separated for rate comparison. A typical residential household in northeast Wyoming uses about 1,200 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per month. When municipal, investor-owned and cooperative electric providers are combined, the average Wyoming residential electric bill is $181 per 1,200 kWh/month, while the national electric bill average is $199.

When broken out for Wyoming, investor-owned utilities in Wyoming average $226 per month for residential bills. Municipal and cooperative utilities have significantly lower average costs of $148 and $169 per month, respectively. PRECorp weighs in at $146 for 1,200 kWh.

This savings of at least $57 per month, or $684 per year, makes a big difference for residential households. The savings potential would exponentially increase for businesses since their energy usage is much higher than an average household, particularly in the case of large manufacturers or data centers.

The Cooperative Advantage

Businesses and industry in PRECorp’s service territory benefit from its low energy rates, which translate to lower operating costs. Besides competitive rates, electric cooperatives have added benefits to the people they serve, who are member-owners, not just customers. This means customer service is prioritized and each member-consumer has a say in co-op business.

Because not-for-profit cooperatives operate at cost, excess revenues after expenses are returned to members in the form of capital credits, which are like dividends. These credits could be paid back to the consumer in the form of a rebate check or a bill credit. PRECorp has retired an impressive $49.1 million to consumer-members since 2004. In 2018 alone, it returned $8.4 million in capital credits.

Unlike investor-owned utilities that aim to make profits for shareholders, co-ops like PRECorp operate under cooperative principles, one of which is “commitment to community.” This pledge is illustrated through the PRECorp Economic Development Program, which acts as a conduit of funds and resources for local economic development projects, as well as its PRECorp Foundation charitable arm, which supports a range of charitable activities.

The many cooperative advantages are hard to deny. For a prospective business looking to relocate, some attractive sites are served by PRECorp. Tiger Transfer industrial park in Upton is one of these advantageous locations. Several hundred shovel-ready acres are available in the park with plenty of opportunity for expansion.

Stephanie Salazar, executive director of the Upton Economic Development Board notes that co-ops are much more sensitive to the quality of their customer service and the impact of their rates since they’re owned by the customers they serve. She enjoys working with utility cooperatives and appreciates their lower utility bills, responsive customer service, and involvement in the community.

“PRECorp’s service and rates give Tiger Transfer industrial park a definitive advantage for attracting businesses that require reliable affordable electricity,” Salazar says. “Plus, PRECorp partners with us not only to promote the park, but to attract business and jobs to Upton. Now that is commitment to community!

Powder River Energy Corporation (PRECorp) is known as northeastern Wyoming’s preferred energy provider. The nonprofit cooperative also works diligently with its member owners to improve the communities it serves. PRECorp has developed powerful partnerships with private, public and nonprofit organizations. These collaborative efforts aim to strengthen communities and create a more diverse economy.


Gregory earns Small Business Person Person of the Year award

SHERIDAN — The U.S. Small Business Administration named Wyoming Roofing LLC President Ryan Gregory as the 2019 Wyoming State Small Business Person of the Year.

According to the company website, Gregory bought Wyoming Roofing in 2012 after working for the company for a number of years. Wyoming Roofing is headquartered in Sheridan.

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Community colleges take next steps to offer 4-year degrees

CHEYENNE — The state of Wyoming has officially authorized its seven community colleges to offer Bachelor of Applied Science degrees. It’s the fruit of a hard-fought battle in the Legislature over Senate File 111 (now Enrolled Act 80.)

SF 111 was one piece of legislation seeking to bolster attainment in the state.

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Great Ideas: CyberWyoming takes creative Approach to cybersecurity

Laura Baker and Patrick Wolfinbarger have been to many cybersecurity symposiums, conferences and workshops around the country and noticed they all seemed to employ a similar tactic: fear.

“They use statistics and anecdotes to scare business owners into implementing better cybersecurity practices,” Baker said. “The problem is, people get overwhelmed by that and they freeze up, which has the opposite effect. We think scaring the heck out of them really doesn’t make sense.”

Instead, when Baker and Wolfinbarger started the nonprofit CyberWyoming in 2017, they aimed to empower people and make cybersecurity more approachable – fun, even – to average small- to medium-size businesses.

To do that, they started the Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition with the Wyoming Business Report, the first competition of its kind in the country.

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New stress management program targets main street directors

We get it. Main Street Program directors are passionate, hardworking, and incredibly driven to improve your communities; and you’re also tired. You’d like to shop for groceries without stopping for a detailed presentation on a new project idea from someone in the cereal aisle. You’d like to spend more evenings and weekends at home with your family. You’d like a meaningful work-life balance.

We hear you, and we want to help.

Desiree Brothe, the Community Development Coordinator for the Wyoming Business Council’s Wyoming Main Street Program, knows the challenges you face firsthand. Before starting at the Business Council, she was the Director of the Cheyenne Downtown Development Association/Main Street program for 3 years.

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Wyoming celebrates “SDBC Day”

Wyoming entrepreneurs joined thousands across the country in sharing their success stories thanks to assistance from their local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Last year, #SBDCDay was one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter.

For 24 years, the Wyoming SBDC Network has helped entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses through nine regional offices across the state. In 2018 alone, the Wyoming SBDC Network assisted 1,366 entrepreneurs, resulting in 111 new businesses, 1,402 jobs created or saved and a capital impact of more than $10 million for the state’s economy.

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Business Council provides $148,800 in startup grants

Three Wyoming startups received $148,800 in grants from the Wyoming Business Council’s February round of Kickstart:Wyoming program.

Fire Friends and Yellowstone Compact & Commodities, based in Jackson, and Lifekey, based in Riverton, expect to create 37 to 43 jobs in the next three years.

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2019 Sundance Winter Festival

The fifth annual Sundance Winter Festival took place on February 16, 2019. Skijoring down Main Street was the featured event. The festival is a big economic driver in the town of 1,100 in Northeast Wyoming. Sundance is part of the Wyoming Main Street program of the Wyoming Business Council.

View event photos.


Chamber Award of Excellence: Large business – Kennon Products

SHERIDAN — A business often recognized as a big player in the manufacturing sector of Sheridan was recognized for its leadership and consistency in the community last month.

Kennon Products is an employee-owned company that manufactures products and provides engineering services to a multitude of markets including: Department of Defense, commercial/general/military aviation, NASA and behavioral health care. The company is inspired by and committed to the protection of high-value assets, from aircraft and other essential equipment to the most important asset: life. Kennon’s products are designed, developed and produced right here in Sheridan.

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Sheridan Skijoring Event one of the biggest

In its first year here, the skijoring event in downtown Sheridan was one of the biggest sanctioned by Skijoring America to date with more than 100 teams registered.

Jeff Campbell of Buffalo, the announcer for the event, said teams were registered in all five divisions – pro, sport, novice, youth and snowboarding.

Before the event started, Campbell predicted a day of fast horses, good wrecks and fast times.

Hundreds of people lined both sides of Broadway to watch the event, part of this year’s first WYO Winter Rodeo in Sheridan.

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