The Sounding Board: WOEC Elections are Nigh!

In my headline I am referring to the two positions for Districts #2 and #5 on our Board of Directors at West Oregon Electric.  Nominations for these positions are being taken this month and the actual elections will take place at the WOEC annual meeting on Saturday, August 17th.   Important:  If voting by mail, please hold off doing so, at least through July; so, we can find worthy write-in candidates for these two positions.

Why is this so important?  Because it may turn out that replacing the entire Board of Directors might be the only way we can regain control of our electric co-op.

Unfortunately, it would take us over 3 years to elect a whole new Board.  So we must continue to try to get our current representatives to help us find a solution.  We can’t wait three years and I would prefer to not throw the baby out with the bath water.  This Board, even as presently constituted, is probably as capable as anyone we could find to replace them;  but they’ve gotten into some bad habits and simply refuse to acknowledge that our rates are unacceptable and that it’s their job to control them.   Rather than contrition all I’ve seen so far is denial and a measure of indignation.

It appears that whenever WOEC needs more funds the Board simply allows them to raise our rates.  They are planning to raise them again in October.  They have done this so often that we are now paying, on average, nearly two and a half times as much as other Oregon co-op members.  Yes, that’s right; we WOEC members pay 2.42 times as much for our electricity as the average of all other Oregon electric co-op members.  Yes, we have lots of trees and hills, but really!  2.42 times as much as the other co-ops?

I gave our Board of Directors the benefit of the doubt and assumed that surely, this must have missed their attention or logically they would have done something about it by now.  We even pay 1.74 times as much as the next worst co-op in Oregon!  WOEC does not even come close to performing up to par!  We all buy our electricity from the BPA at one of the lowest prices imaginable.  In addition, our co-op, as such, is non-profit.  We should be able to compete handily with for-profit utilities in the state, and we are not even doing that!

If you really want to take back control of your co-op, call your representative and have that chat.  They should at least be given a chance to do the right thing.  Ask him or her to see if we can at least be average next year!  Tell them their planned rate hike in October is out of the question.  I wouldn’t mind even being second worst.  Tell them that reaching into our pocket every time they run low on cash is totally unacceptable.

Better yet, do as I did and speak before one of the regular Board meetings on the 3rd Tuesday of every month.  You might suggest, as I did, that they hold an executive (private) session with you, excluding the hired staff, so they can preserve their options as to how they’re going to react.

And those of you who live in District #5 – West Vernonia, (Corey Hill, Noaks Rd., Roseview Heights), Buxton & Timber-come to the WOEC building on Monday, June 24th at 7:00 PM to nominate a new representative.  You should have all gotten a letter inviting you from WOEC.  Please consider serving on the Board.  For those of you in District #2, I hope you nominate someone to run against the incumbent in your area (Apiary, Mist & Birkenfeld) on  June 20th.  If not, you can elect a write-in candidate at the August meeting.  Remember; do not send in your mail-in ballot before we find a candidate to run against the incumbents.

Here are our current representatives.  Contact yours soon.  Power of One would like to know how your chat turns out. Please call Jack Phillips at 503-429-8089 with the results.  Remember, the Board works for us, the members.  In-turn, the WOEC hired staff works for the Board.  I think our current Board may have forgotten for whom they serve.


WOEC Board of Directors Contact information 

Email for the Board of Directors:

This is the monitored business email account for the WOEC Board of Directors.

If you would like a non-confidential email to go to one director in particular, and not all seven members of the board, just note the director’s name in the subject line and it will be forwarded to that director only.


Dist #1  Brian Baker – Serving Elsie, Jewell, & Necanicum

Phone: 503 755-2438

Address: 81410 Best Rd., Seaside, OR  97138-6160


Dist #2  Robert VanNatta*, President – Serving Apiary, Mist, & Birkenfeld

Phone: 503-556-7305

Address: 24259 Van Natta Road, Rainier, OR  97048


Dist #3 Marty Van Dyken, Secretary/Treasurer – Serving E. Vernonia, Keasey Rd,  Top Hill, & Pebble Creek

Phone: 503-410-1160

Address: 15160 Creek View Lane, Vernonia, OR  97064


Dist #4  Dan Murphy – Serving Central Vernonia

Phone: 503-429-4101

Address: 476 North Street, Vernonia, OR  97064


Dist #5  Bob Paleck* – Serving West Vernonia, Buxton & Timber

Phone: 503-429-0898

Address: 57041 Nehalem Hwy S / PO BOX 341, Vernonia, OR  97064


Dist #6  Dixie London – Serving Scappoose & Chapman

Phone: 503-543-3986

Address: 57232 Cedar Creek Rd., PO BOX 1074, Scappoose, OR  97056


Dist #7  David Hess, Vice President – Serving Manning, Hagg Lake, & Yamhill Co.

Phone: 503-647-2061

Address: PO Box 518, Banks, OR  97106


*Subject to reelection in August 2013