Ready to Lead the Cooperative

I am honored to be Central Electric Cooperative’s new president and CEO. I was raised in Central Oregon and have served CEC in various roles for 26 years.
There is no other place I want to be.

Before looking forward, I want to reflect and recognize my predecessor Dave Markham, who worked tirelessly the past two decades to solidify the utility’s long-term financial stability and transform CEC into an exemplary leader in the state and federal legislative and regulatory arenas. I could not ask to inherit a better position.

Fortunately, I have been there every step of the way to learn and understand how to manage the cooperative successfully. My roles evolved from journeyman lineman to director of operations and engineering and then chief operating officer.

The experience has taught me the not-for-profit business model, given me intimate knowledge of our service territory’s infrastructure and helped me value the employees who keep the lights on.

Along this road, major mile markers for me include managing the rollout of CEC’s advanced metering infrastructure, developing and implementing its wildfire mitigation efforts, and ongoing infrastructure improvements to provide you with safe, reliable and affordable electricity.

The electric utility industry faces many ongoing challenges, and we still feel the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: rising inflation, supply chain delays, a slowing economy and increased power costs.

An additional layer of complexity is the state’s decarbonization and renewable energy goals. Bringing online intermittent solar and wind resources raises numerous short- and long-term resource adequacy concerns. While the clean, renewable hydropower energy—100% carbon-free—supplied by the Bonneville Power Administration serves as CEC’s energy backbone, we must be visionary and creatively proactive in augmenting our primary energy resource to meet Central Oregon’s growth and demand for electricity.

CEC—built to deliver power to farms and ranches outside the city core areas along Highway 97—is one of the fastest-growing utilities in the state. Rapid growth has brought more suburban and commercial demand into our service territory. We must continue to build new infrastructure while replacing aging equipment in outlying areas.

While change is inevitable, the core of CEC’s success is its members and employees. The co-op wouldn’t exist without both. On behalf of our members, we must continue to value and uphold the Seven Cooperative Principles, including Democratic Member Control and Concern for the Community.

CEC puts a high premium on its workforce for its safety and retention. Staff members are diligent, flexible and ready to assist. Because of them, CEC is well prepared for challenges as they arise.

When thinking of CEC, the words commitment and ownership immediately come to my mind. They are shared collectively by the board of directors, management and employees.

Keeping those principles in mind, I am grateful for this opportunity and ready to lead.

Brad Wilson, President and CEO