The Board of Directors for West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC) has approved a 14% rate hike that includes a $2.00 increase to the base rate charge that takes effect on October 1, 2013.
The increase was voted on by the Board following a public meeting to consider the proposed rate increase on Tuesday September 17, 2013.. The public meeting was held in the WOEC Boardroom, which was filled to capacity and spilled over into the lobby of the new WOEC headquarters building.
Co-op members were very vocal in their disapproval of the rate hike and spoke for over ninety minutes, asking the Board and WOEC Management to avoid raising rates. Board President Robert Van Natta wondered through the crowd, taking comments from everyone who wished to speak.
WOEC General Manager Marc Farmer opened the meeting and gave an explanation of why a rate hike is needed at this time. Farmer told the crowd that WOEC was receiving a 4% increase from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), their electric supplier. He also explained that the co-op has used up all their emergency fund reserves doing storm repair work. Because the reserves are depleted the co-op has had to borrow money and now has debt that needs to be repaid. The rate hike would pay down the debt as well as build the reserve fund and protect the co-op in the event of another weather emergency.
Following the public comment portion of the meeting, the Board of Directors deliberated and discussed the possible scenarios, and voted to implement a 14% overall increase that includes a $2 increase in the base charge and a change to a two tier rate with 0-1,500 kWh at one price and useage over 1,500 kWh at a lower cost.