St. Croix Electric Cooperative's unofficial motto for 2019 is "Charging Forward," and joining the Central St. Croix Area Chamber of Commerce in early 2019 is an example of the co-op's commitment to an increased presence in the community it serves. Although SCEC offices sit inside a building within the village of Hammond its reach is felt into St. Croix County and beyond.

Electric co-ops are community-focused organizations that deliver safe, reliable and affordable energy to consumer-members. Co-ops are unique because they belong to the community they serve, giving them better insight into consumer-members' needs. SCEC has nearly 1,800 miles of line serving more than 11,000 member accounts in rural St. Croix and into the neighboring counties of Pierce, Dunn and Polk. Nearly half of SCEC's 26 employees are members themselves and 90% live in St. Croix County.

"We pride ourselves on providing local service from local employees you know and can trust," said SCEC CEO/President Brian R. Zelenak.

Zelenak is a Hudson resident who, in November 2018, became the co-op's sixth top manager when Mark Pendergast retired after 26 years.

"We feel we've found an excellent fit for St. Croix Electric Cooperative in Brian," SCEC Board Chairman Bill Peavey (Woodville) said at the annual meeting held April 13. "We are pleased to have found someone with a wealth of utility experience and with strong local roots."

Zelenak was the sixth - and final - new employee hired in 2018, an anomaly considering the co-op hired only six new employees from 2008-2018. Pendergast was the third - and final - employee to retire in 2018. A SCEC Director also resigned late in 2018, leaving the board operating with just eight directors until the annual meeting April when election results were announced. SCEC is governed by a Board of Directors - elected by member-consumers - who then defines expectations for the CEO and develops policies and strategic goals.

SCEC's mission is to enhance the lives of its members and strengthen the communities where they live by providing superior electric and other valued services. While some services are exclusive to members - energy efficiency incentives and programs, scholarships and more - some are offered to both members and non-members alike:

• Satellite internet to those outside the boundaries of fiber and cable.

• Medical monitoring to provide peace of mind at the touch of a button.

• Grants to local organizations helping serve unmet humanitarian, social and educational needs.

• Economic development tools including a USDA Revolving Loan Fund and industrial/manufacturing/commercial "Gold Shovel Ready" lots on land SCEC owns adjacent to its headquarters in Hammond.

For more information about St. Croix Electric Cooperative and any of the programs and products above, visit scecnet.net or call 715-796-7000.