I was once West Oregon Electric Cooperative’s most vocal critic. But now I am hearing criticism so far out that I find myself defending the co-op. Below are statements recently made, followed by a comment:
• “No entity – Federal, state, county or city has any jurisdiction over co-ops.” Not so. The co-op operates under the laws of the State of Oregon, ORS Chapter 62. The PUC generally leaves the co-op alone, but comes down hard if we fall behind in our tree trimming. When we borrow money from RUS, a service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we have to jump through their hoops. And then there is the IRS, OSHA, etc.
• “The co-op is undemocratic.” Not so. The members of the Board of Directors are democratically elected by the membership and represent us in doing the business of the co-op. The board consists of our elected friends and neighbors, trying to do the best job they can. I have not had a problem talking with individual board members. Even if I disagree with their decisions, they deserve my courtesy and respect. Read More
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