News from West Oregon Electric

WOEC Current: Introducing New General Manager, Bob Perry

SarahRossi-color-webAt the December 17th West Oregon Electric Cooperative Board Meeting, the Board of Directors appointed Sarah Rossi as Acting General Manager to lead the co-op during the interim until the newly hired GM, Bob Perry, takes the helm. Bob Perry will be moving here from Indiana and plans on being on board at WOEC by February 1st.

Below is an introduction letter from our New General Manager:

Hello, I’m Bob Perry, your new general manager here at West Oregon Electric Cooperative and I’d like to take a few minutes to introduce myself to you.

BobPerry-color-webI’ve been working with the electric cooperatives now for eighteen years.  I got my start in Indiana working in the Member Services department at the local electric cooperative. I still remember my first assignment was to read meters.  Working in Member Services allowed me to be involved in many different aspects of member contact from billing concerns to energy advisor, from school safety programs to 4H Electric programs and more.

It was during my years with the cooperative in Indiana that I decided to take on the challenge of earning a college degree. Starting in the summer of 1997, I signed up for night classes at Indiana University and seven years later I received my bachelor’s degree in business administration.  I went on from there to earn a master’s degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2006.

Three years after completing my studies, I went on to manage two electric cooperatives, one in upstate New York and one in Kansas.  Someone asked me once what my story was and I said “I’ve gone from meter reading to general manager in fourteen years.” Electric cooperatives are great organizations and I’m proud to be associated with them.

I’m married, my wife’s name is Linda and we just celebrated our twenty-sixth anniversary. I have two step-daughters and we’re expecting our first grandchild in February. And then there’s Megan, our five year old chocolate Labrador retriever who is a registered therapy dog.

Outside of the office, Linda and I enjoy a ride on the motorcycle or a quiet afternoon on the water in our kayak.  Linda is a quilter and enjoys gardening.  I enjoy shooting sports, fishing, and amateur radio.

We’re both excited to be coming to such a beautiful area of the country and look forward to meeting many of you in the years to come.

Bye for now!  

Bob

WOEC Current: Saving Energy During the Holidays

West Oregon Electric Cooperative is proud to sponsor this year’s Vernonia Spirit of Christmas House Decorating contest. Start planning the decorations you are going to use now, and get ready to make your home stand out and represent the warm glow of this special season. Check out the energy efficiency tips below for some helpful hints on how to decorate with LED lights and keep that holiday spirit alive without wasting energy.

 

Decorating:

•  Consider replacing older strings of holiday lights with more energy efficient light emitting diodes, LEDs. Most stores now sell LED lights, and many of the new outside Christmas decorations are already made with them. Minimize fire hazard risk with LEDs, as they are shatterproof, shock resistant, safe to touch, and shouldn’t overload your electric circuits. LEDs save up to 80-90 percent of your decorative lighting energy costs, and use 10 times less energy than incandescent mini-lights and 100 times less energy than standard bulbs.

•  Wait until dark to turn on your Christmas lights and make sure to turn them off before you go to bed. Six hours or less of daily use is a good goal to aim for. Read More

WOEC Current: Board Approves New Rate Structure

At the regular September Board Meeting, the WOEC Board of Directors discussed and approved restructuring the rate schedule and approved a rate increase effective October 1, 2013. We have heard and considered differing views and respect the right of each member to express their preference in an appropriate manner. We are not doing this because we like high rates, we are doing this as it is our considered position that an increase is required to meet our lender requirements, provide reasonable service and reduce future revenue requirements (less borrowing, lower interest on what we have to borrow based on our financial condition).  We understand the hardships and frustrations that our members face, but we must make responsible financial decisions for the overall wellbeing of the Co-op.

The purposes of the rate restructuring were to: cover the increased costs from BPA to the wholesale power rates of 9% and transmission rates of 11%, cover the cost of debt service to the loans from the four storm events and resulting projects, increase the tree trimming to reduce outages and resulting overtime expense, rebuild the depleted reserve account for future storm events, pay for increased costs of goods and services to the co-op, and to increase debt payments in order to reduce debt load. Reducing the debt load will help bring the equity ratio back up to 35%, allow us to restore borrowing ability for future projects and/or maintenance, and stabilize or even potentially reduce rates in the future.  Read More

WOEC Current: 2013 Annual Meeting Report

The sixty-ninth annual meeting of the West Oregon Electric Cooperative Members was held Saturday, August 17th at the Scout Cabin in Vernonia.  There were 88 members and guests in attendance.

The meeting was called to order at 11:00 AM by Board President Robert VanNatta.  General Manager Marc Farmer introduced the Board of Directors in attendance; Robert VanNatta, Dist #2 Mist, Apiary, Birkenfeld; Marty Van Dyken, Dist #3 Vernonia, Keasey; Dan Murphy, Dist #4 Vernonia; Bob Paleck, Dist #5 Timber, Buxton; Dixie London, Dist #6 Chapman, North Plains. Director Brian Baker, Dist #1 Elsie, Jewell, Hamlet, had a family emergency and was unable to attend.  After nineteen years of dedicated service, Director David Hess from Dist #7, Yamhill County, Manning, Hagg Lake, had resigned at the July board meeting due to selling his home and moving outside of WOEC territory. Robert France had been appointed by the board to fill the District #7 vacancy at the July board meeting, but we are sorry to have to report that Mr. France passed away on August 15th.  Please keep the France family in your thoughts and prayers.

General Manager Marc Farmer introduced the employees and special guests. Farmer recognized Darlene McLeod who had retired this spring after 29 years of dedicated service to WOEC.  He also announced that Steve Scott, Engineering and Operations Manager and Gunny Cox, System Maintenance Coordinator would both be retiring at the beginning of 2014. All together we will be losing over 100 years of utility experience within a year’s time.  They will all be missed.

The minutes from the 2012 annual meeting were approved and the recent new members to be voted in were also approved.  Our co-op attorney, Chuck Fadeley, was appointed parliamentarian by President VanNatta, and Mr. Fadeley presided over the director election portion of the meeting. Chuck opened the floor for nominations and Heather Johansen was nominated as a candidate for Dist #5 director position. The other candidates who had been previously nominated at the district nomination meetings were; Robert VanNatta for Dist #2 and R.H. “Bob” Paleck for Dist #5.  The candidates were given the floor to address the membership. Our guest speaker, Richelle Beck, from NW River Partners gave an informative and interactive presentation about our clean, renewable hydropower and the importance of the dams in the river system. Management reports were given, and the official annual report can be found in the August 2013 edition of our Ruralite magazine. (Please make sure to read pages 4, 5, 8, 25, and the back page of the Ruralite each month, as it is our official newsletter for our members and you will find helpful information there.)  President VanNatta reported that we did not make our bank tests (TIER) for 2012 due to the January snow storm costs, and we must make TIER this year.  Luckily we had a mild winter to start 2013 and we hope that the weather will hold through December. He also reported that we would have a rate increase this fall due to a rate increase from BPA and that we need to build up a reserve account to cover storm costs when necessary.  David Western, Manager of Finance & Administration, gave the financial report.  He provided a handout of WOEC’s current financials through June 2013 (credit hunter).  Western reminded the members that even though the 2012 January snow storm was declared a FEMA event and we received some money to help with those expenses, it was only declared in one of the five counties we serve.  The amount we received in costs reimbursement was a small percentage of the overall costs of the storm. Western explained that WOEC continues to watch spending and staying on a tight budget. We also received a clean audit report for 2012, and have so for at least the last 10 years.

Steve Scott, Engineering and Operations Manager, gave the operations report.  He explained that this year has one of the lowest number of outage hours due to the mild weather, and increased tree trimming and maintenance.  The new Vernonia Substation that serves Vernonia and the surrounding area has been working well since it was energized in late 2012.  Scott also reported that WOEC had to lay off our Groundman due to budget cuts and changes in the Lineman Apprenticeship program.

General Manager Marc Farmer gave his Manager’s report.  He explained that WOEC has been through 4 FEMA storm events in the last 5 ½ years and no other Oregon Co-op has experienced more than 1 in the last 10 years. Even with the 75% reimbursement of storm costs in disaster declared counties, we have still paid over $1.5 million in WOEC members’ money for the storm costs.  WOEC has spent $13 million on the 3 largest projects in WOEC history: the Timber Elsie Transmission line rebuild/underground, building a new headquarters building out of the flood plain, and building the new Vernonia Substation out of the flood plain.

Farmer used Clatskanie PUD (CPUD) as an example of the reasons that WOEC has high rates and CPUD has low rates.  CPUD has a service territory of 257 square miles of mostly town and paved roads, WOEC has 1224 square miles of mountains, trees, gravel roads, and areas that you have to hike into and can’t even get a utility truck close to.  CPUD has around 4600 meters and WOEC has around 4300 meters, but CPUD has an annual revenue of 42 million where as WOEC only has revenue of 9 million.  The difference is one very large industrial customer that CPUD has that keeps rates low for the residential customers.

Farmer answered a member question about a rumor they had heard that WOEC was going to double the base charge and rates.  He explained that we would be having a rate increase, but it would be an overall increase of somewhere between 10 – 15% and the staff was still working on the scenarios to present to the board.  The increase would be a combination of the base charge and kWh charge.

There will be a member meeting on September 17th at 6:00 PM at the WOEC board room regarding the rate change.

The election results were read by Chuck Fadeley; Robert VanNatta, Dist #2 and Bob Paleck, Dist #5 were both re-elected.

Door prizes were given out and everyone enjoyed a nice BBQ lunch.

WOEC Current: Upcoming Meetings

The West Oregon Electric Cooperative Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, August 17th at the Vernonia Scout Cabin. Registration begins at 10:00 AM and the meeting will be called to order at 11:00 AM. All members are welcome to attend the annual meeting, but please RSVP so that we know how many people will be attending for planning purposes. You may call the office at 503-429-3021 or email sarahr@westoregon.org to RSVP.

You should receive your official annual meeting notice and ballot in the mail the last week of July or the first week of August. Please take the time to read the candidate information and fill out the ballot, so that you can cast your vote for the Directors in Districts 2 (Mist, Apiary, Birkenfeld) and 5 (Timber, Buxton).

As a member-owned electric utility, this is your chance to be an active part of the Co-op through your vote for representation on the Board of Directors and by attending the meeting to hear reports on the financial status, operations, and management of your cooperative. We look forward to seeing you, and welcome the opportunity to interact with our members and make sure your questions and input are heard.  Please join us for a great meeting, lunch, and fun door prizes.

 

We are also holding special district meetings in August and September so that you may meet with your board representatives (credit rebecca). The following is a list of the days, times, and places for those meetings:

District 3 & 4  (Vernonia, Keasey)

August 13th   7:00 PM WOEC Boardroom (652 Rose Ave, Vernonia)

 

District 7  (Manning, Hagg Lake, Yamhill County)

August 29th  7:00 PM Yamhill City Hall (205 S Maple Street, Yamhill)

 

District 5  (Timber, Buxton)

September 3rd   7:00 PM   WOEC Boardroom (652 Rose Ave, Vernonia)

 

District 6   (Chapman/Scappoose, North Plains)

September 9th  7:00 PM Scappoose Library  (52469 SE 2nd St, Scappoose)

 

Member Meeting – Rate Change

Tuesday, September 17th   at 6:00 PM

WOEC Boardroom ~ 652 Rose Ave., Vernonia, OR

 

WOEC Current: Capital Credit Allocations

Unclaimed Capital Credit Allocations Explained

Recently West Oregon Electric Cooperative published a list of former WOEC members who have unclaimed capital credit allocation checks on our books.  These capital credits were earned by members between the years of 1944 to 1969, and the WOEC board of directors had authorized the payment of them and had checks issued in 1999 and 2000.  The unclaimed checks are ones that were either returned to WOEC due to incorrect mailing addresses or were just never cashed by the member. Other members during that time period who had updated their current mailing address with WOEC, or were current members in 1999 & 2000 received their checks and have already been paid the capital credits from 1944 to 1969.

The Unclaimed Capital Credit list may be found on our website, www.westoregon.org, just click on the box with the notice in the lower left hand corner of the home page.  For some of our newer members and a refresher for long time members, we have put together this question and answer sheet to explain WOEC capital credits:

What are capital credits? Read More

WOEC Current: McLeod Retires

West Oregon Electric Cooperative would like to announce the retirement of Darlene McLeod after 29 years of dedicated service.  Darlene has held different positions over those years, including Billing Manager, Bookkeeper, and Manager of Finance & Administration.  She served under five different WOEC General Managers, and has seen a lot of changes in office equipment and our office building.

The West Oregon Electric Employees and Board of Directors would like to invite our members to share in a special celebration to honor Darlene’s retirement.  It will be held Friday, May 3rd in the WOEC boardroom from 3:00-5:00 PM.  Please stop by and wish Darlene well in this exciting new chapter of her life. Read More

WOEC Current-News and Notes From the Co-op: Audit Report

We are pleased to report that, as we have for at least the past 10 years, WOEC received a clean opinion from an independent auditor which is the highest rating given.  At its regular Board of Directors meeting held on Tuesday, March 19th, the board and management staff was presented with the annual audit report by Kenneth Kuhns of Kenneth Kuhns & CO. of Salem, Oregon.  The board, staff, and members present each had an opportunity to ask questions of the auditor.  As is normal procedure, the board held an executive session without staff to give them an opportunity to ask any questions of the auditor regarding any staff issues or concerns during the audit, and staff conforming to policies and procedures.  I would like to share with you several of the comments and sections of the Auditors Report and Management Letter.  We will be putting the audit report on our website during the month of April for all members to view in its entirety. “The financial records of West Oregon Electric Cooperative, Inc. are maintained substantially in accordance with the Uniform System of Accounts prescribed by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), United States Department of Agriculture.” Read More

WOEC Current-News and Notes From the Co-op: Budget Billing,Energy Assistance Available to Help

As the economy continues to lag and colder weather persists, we want to make sure our members know that WOEC provides assistance to them in several different ways.

First, we have been offering a program called Budget Billing or what some of our members like to refer to as an Equal Pay Program.  This program allows our members to average out their monthly bills making it easier to budget a set amount each month.  It eliminates the ups and downs of electric bills by taking the last 12 months usage and averaging it out over the next twelve months, which is especially helpful during the high bill winter months.  This program is available to our members who have been a member for at least one year, and can be done by stopping in at our office or over the phone to sign up.  To qualify, a member must have their current balance paid in full prior to being placed on Budget Billing.  This also must be done before an account has received a shut off or disconnect notice. Read More

WOEC Current~News and Notes from the Co-op

West Oregon Electric Cooperative 2013 Scholarships
2 $1,000 WOEC Sam Hearing Scholarships will be awarded this year

High school seniors throughout the West Oregon Electric service area are eligible to apply for the WOEC Sam Hearing Scholarship program. Seniors looking to further their education by attending any college, university, community college, or trade school can apply for one of two $1,000 scholarships.
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