The Sounding Board: What’s Up With Electricity?

What’s happening with Pwr/1 and WOEC?  Or said another way, “ho hum…what’s new?”  Complaint or criticism repeats.  Answers roll back as if pre-recorded. Rates continue to increase.  Life goes on.  Nothing changes.  Or does it?

Sometimes, poetry helps.  I like to write it for brevity of expression. So, here it goes:

“Who’s knocking on my door?  Poverty-man!

Who’s that with him?  Inflation-kid!

Who’s standing behind them?  Oh, that’s cold North Wind!

Why are they knocking on my door?  You have not paid your electric bill!”

How many of us, young or old, are financially stressed in a collapsed economy?  How many of us are older, retired and have only social security income?  How many of us are a sneeze away from disaster only to watch wide-eyed as our food prices, fuel prices, medical bills, retail prices and electricity bills skyrocket to the moon?!  What happens if your electricity is turned off?  What if you have to choose between warmth or freezing temperatures?  Gasoline or isolation?  Food or  medicine?  Staying in business or leaving town?  How many of us have had these experiences?  Pwr/1 would like to hear your stories.  Contact  or write us c/o this paper.  Our blog spot is:   www.utilitymembershippowerof1.blogspot.com  Or call Jack Phillips (503) 429-8089; or Sally Harrison (503) 429-8425; or Nick Galaday (503) 429-8910.

So what about our highest-in-the-state electric rates?  Shouldn’t we, as co-operative members, be able to examine how our utility is being run?  Absolutely.  These rates cause unwanted anxiety, disadvantage and harm to those who cannot afford them.  Therefore, it is important for affected members to have access to operational information as permitted by the By-laws and to do something about it.

Pwr/1 has requested information, repeatedly.  Our requests have been stone-walled.  At Board Meetings, there is a one-page agenda handed out but the real work of the Board is withheld in binders, given to District Reps before a meeting, ready to be voted on, and not provided to visiting members.  If anything controversial is present it is taken to secret Executive Session after the board meeting; no general members allowed.  A natural question is “Why the secrecy; what is going on?

Double entry book-keeping tells us money does not just appear or disappear.  It comes from a source and goes to a location.  It can be followed.  It can be traced.  It can be taken apart and put together.  Its parts can be examined.  We know that certain expenses are standardized, e.g. the cost of wholesale power from BPA; the costs of its transmission to WOEC; the costs associated with WOEC employees who are union members etc.  From that point, most other expenses are variable, including administrative salaries, wages, travel, contractor services, construction costs etc.  It is those expenses that need to be examined and analyzed.  Formula-wise, examination looks like this:

Assets minus Liabilities = Equity + (income minus expenses)

Want to get involved?  Then you should know WOEC is a private corporation;  it is not a State Agency.  It is relatively autonomous and organized as a co-operative, that is, controlled by its Members (customers).  The Board of Directors is answerable to the Membership, not the General Manager.

For the “long-run”, there may be statutory violations and we have asked the Attorney General to take a look.  Meanwhile, in the short run, members can meet and do something.  This includes finding, nominating and electing new members to the Board of Directors.  If you, or someone you know, would like to become active with the backing of Pwr/1 please contact us;  or, alternatively, contact WOEC.    The time is now.  At the next annual membership meeting this summer, elections are for Districts 2 and 5.  District 2 covers Mist, Apiary and Birkenfeld and is currently represented by Robert VanNatta;  District 5 covers Timber and Buxton and is currently represented by Robert Paleck.

Our next Pwr/1 meeting will be, Thursday March 28th at 7:00 PM.   If  you want to attend, call 503 429-8425.

Remember, democracy requires participation.  “Tag! You’re it!”