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
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. Read More
Has been offered the General Manager position at Clatskanie PUD
Marc Farmer, the General Manager of the West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC), has resigned after being offered the full time General Manager position of Clatskanie PUD starting in January.
“I have notified my board that I will be resigning effective the end of December and the search for my replacement has already begun with the application deadline of November 1, 2013,” said Farmer in a written response when asked about rumors that he was leaving WOEC. “I will continue serving here through the remainder of this year.”
Farmer declined to comment when asked if he had accepted the position at Clatskanie PUD.
Farmer took the position as General Manager at WOEC in July of 2005.
In response to the letter by Jack Phillips in the last issue of Vernonia’s Voice, I would like to provide the facts about West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC) and Columbia Broadband, Inc.
There is no contradiction for a not-for-profit entity to own a for-profit subsidiary. It’s done all the time to keep the two entities completely separate in their goals, objectives, accounting, tax implications, and so forth. Cooperatives throughout the U.S. have wholly owned subsidiaries like us that provide services such as propane, water, sewer, telephone, telecommunications, and other for profit businesses. The subsidiaries allow the utility to own and operate businesses that are designed to either offer services that the membership wants the utility to provide because they know and trust the utility to provide it for them, at a better price, or provide a service that is not provided in their area by anyone else.
Co-ops must adhere to an 85/15 rule, which in essence stipulates that only 15 percent of the Co-ops revenue can come from non-member related business or they jeopardize their Co-op tax exempt status. To keep from doing so, Co-ops create a wholly owned subsidiary that is for profit, and then can bring in revenues to the Co-op that keep them at the 85/15 threshold. This is exactly the reason WOEC created its wholly owned subsidiary West Oregon Services, Inc. Under this umbrella, we can and have created a for profit business venture called Columbia Broadband, Inc. It was in March of 2001 that the WOEC membership participated in a special meeting/election to approve a change to the bylaws that allows the cooperative’s board of directors to consider other business opportunities that it deems beneficial to the membership. The special meeting of the membership was held March 20, 2001 and the mail in ballot election results approved the bylaw amendment by a tally of 451 to 194. Read More
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
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