On September 17th the Board of Directors at West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC) held their regular monthly meeting and were scheduled to consider a rate increase. The membership of the co-op was invited to attend the public meeting to take part in the discussion and a large, overflowing, and very vocal crowd gathered. The board, management and staff listened patiently to their members for almost two hours and then the board voted to approve a 14% rate increase which began on October 1, 2013.
WOEC General Manager Marc Farmer has explained why this rate increase is needed; you can read his explanation in this issue on page 7. Without going into all the details here I can say this-I may not like the rate hike, but I can see and understand the reasoning behind it.
Every time this community sees utility rates increased it dies just a little bit. We have high electric rates. Not as high as some people would have you believe, but certainly they are high. These high rates obviously make it hard for residents to live here and for new people to chose to move here. It also makes it hard for businesses to stay here and hard for this community to attract new industry and business. I don’t like these higher rates and I don’t like the implications for our community.
That being said, I have heard and listened to the Board and staff explain the reason behind these increases and understand the implications of not implementing them. They make sense. What I found hard to understand is the way some co-op members are responding. When the issue of higher electric rates was brought to them for comment in a public meeting, certainly there were some ideas presented to the board and management by members in polite and respectful ways. There were also reasonable questions asked and valid concerns raised, which is certainly the prerogative of the membership and was the point of the meeting. But there were also numerous uninformed accusations, and lots of finger pointing. Read More