The Vernonia Scout Cabin was filled to capacity once again for the 2014 West Oregon Electric Cooperative Annual Meeting on Saturday, August 16th.
Board President Robert Van Natta opened the meeting by introducing the rest of the Board members as well as employees and other special guests in the audience, including State Representative Brad Witt.
Jim Buxton was elected as Board Director for District 3 representing Keasey Road and parts of Vernonia, defeating Sally Harrison. Larry Averitt ran unopposed and was elected as the Director for District 7 representing Manning, Hagg Lake, and Yamhill County.
During his report, Board President Van Natta noted that it has been a year of change for WOEC, with the resignation of General Manager Marc Farmer and assistant Sarah Rossi and the retirement of Operations Director Steve Scott, along with the hiring of Bob Perry, Angela Hadley and Don Rose to fill those spots. Van Natta also noted that three Directors on the Board have left since last year and thanked David Hess, Dixie London and Marty Van Dyken for their service. Van Natta explained that Averitt, Buxton and Rosemary Lohrke had been appointed as replacements. Van Natta also passed on some bad news, informing the members that Bonneville Power Administration had discovered a broken meter and sent WOEC a bill for $200,000 for power used that had not been billed during the last two years. Van Natta did share some good news, telling the membership that due to the rate increase last year, the co-op’s cash flow problem is under control and that members should not see any rate increases in 2014.
Finance Officer David Western told the members that in 2013 the co-op ended the year with a positive of $124,934. Western also noted that so far through six months of 2014 the co-op is ahead by $425,316 and is staying very close to the projected budget for the year. Western said the co-op received a clean audit for 2013. Western also told members that the co-op has instituted Smart Hub, a on-line bill pay option for members and that the co-op is currently switching to electronic time sheets for employees.
Operations Director Don Rose introduced himself to the membership and told them that outages are down significantly because of the tree trimming his crews have done as well as pole replacement and also by undergrounding lines when possible. Rose noted that several trucks in the fleet were replaced this year due to age and high mileage. Rose said he is trying to find ways to improve things as inexpensively as possible.
New General Manager Bob Perry also introduced himself to the members. Perry told the members that WOEC has many challenges including lots of trees, fish mitigation, and green power requirements. Perry said he sees great potential for the co-op and that the co-op has a great and diverse group of directors which is a benefit and thanked them for their service. Perry said the co-op will continue to perform Cost of Service studies to help design rates to cover fixed costs.
Following the meeting the members enjoyed a BBQ lunch provided by Terrel’s BBQ.