Letter to the Editor-Jack Phillips

To the Editor

“Rate Design” is the title of Marc Farmer’s article in the June 6th issue of Vernonia’s Voice.  He states a change will take place on October 1st.  Marc also examines a classic dilemma: should members pay a low, fixed monthly service fee (Facility Charge) with a high KWH of use charge; or, alternatively, a high fixed monthly service fee with a low KWH charge?

What is more interesting are the first two sentences of Marc’s column which state (1) the co-op needs income to cover its costs and (2) the co-op is “a not for profit cooperative.”

That relates to the 2013 audit.  I found the co-op (a non-profit corporation) owns a company called West Oregon Services, Inc. (WOSI) which in turn owns a “for profit” telecommunications company called Columbia Broadband, Inc.  CBI  supplies internet connection to rural communities (not yet including Vernonia).  This was done by WOSI issuing $15,000 in stock.  WOSI then took $10,000 of that money and created CBI.  To make it all work, WOEC loaned $1.2+million dollars to CBI which is still outstanding.  CBI, nevertheless, has invested in LSN, Inc., a Portland based telecommunications company.  These are for-profit companies.  Isn’t there a contradiction here?  The opening sentence in the “Articles of Association”  (Chapter VIII of Title XXV of the Oregon Code, 1930) states “the purpose is(sic) of forming a non-profit cooperative association.” Article VII, Section 1 of the Bylaws states …”The Cooperative shall at all times be operated on a cooperative non-profit basis for the  mutual benefit of its patrons.”  How is it our non-profit co-op owns for-profit companies?  What has this done to our rates?

$1.2 million dollars is a lot of money.  Members of the co-op are responsible for it.  What would have happened if, instead, the investment had been put into alternative, renewable energy, specifically solar, wind, micro-hydro and geo-thermal?  Short term costs would have modified over the medium term to clean, renewable energy, extremely low carbon emissions and lower long term prices in contrast to fossil fuel prices, and pollution, which are now skyrocketing through the roof.  BPA is limited, simply by plant size.  It will not be able to keep up with total demand.  Green energy can.

If you, the reader, think WOEC can make some needed changes and stabilize long term rates, become active.  Join Pwr/1.  Or run for the WOEC Board of Directors in Districts 2 (Mist, Birkenfeld) and 5 (Timber, Buxton).  (see Nick Galaday’s article in today’s paper for details). Give us a call: 503 429-8089

Jack Phillips

Vernonia