Tag Archives: West Oregon Electric Cooperative

WOEC Announces VOLTA Scholarship

West Oregon Electric Cooperative, Inc. is proud to announce we are offering our VOLTA scholarship to encourage graduating high school seniors, or recent graduates to seek training and employment in the utility outside lineworker field. The Cooperative will award one scholarship of $1,500.00 to a deserving graduating senior or recent graduate who reside in a home served by West Oregon Electric. They must use this scholarship to attend the VOLTA training academy.

We need your help to get the word out about our scholarships. We would really like to encourage students who enjoy working outdoors, and would like to pursue a career in utility linework to apply. Their GPA will not be as important as their goals and motivation to succeed in life.

To apply, contact your high school counselor or West Oregon Electric. The application form as well as all instructions are now available, please visit our website at westoregon.org (go to the news tab and click on scholarships) to print the forms. The information and forms will also be available at the front desk in the WOEC office.  The deadline for receiving completed applications is April 15th by 5:00 PM.

New WOEC Billing Causes Confusion

West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC) recently changed their billing system, combining two previous billing cycles into one. The change has raised some questions among members.
All WOEC bills will now be processed on the 10th of each month and will be due on the 25th. According to WOEC staff, bills are mailed from a processing plant in St. Louis.

During this past billing cycle, many members did not receive their bills in the mail until Saturday, October 18, giving them just one week to make their payment before being subject to a late fee.
When questioned about the small amount of time customers were being given to make their payment on time, WOEC staff explained that the billing information was sent out electronically in the afternoon on Friday, October 10, meaning bills did not get processed on Saturday, October 11th. Processing of these bills was further delayed because of the Columbus Day holiday on Monday, October 13. Read More

WOEC Holds Annual Meeting

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. Read More

Meet Bob Perry New General Manager at WOEC

BobPerry-webBob Perry has been the General Manager at West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC) since January.  Vernonia’s Voice sat down to visit with him, find out about his background and ask him a few questions about his view on the operations at WOEC.

Perry is an intelligent and thoughtful man who takes his time and answers questions in a very deliberate manner.  He is extremely knowledgeable about the electric utility industry in general and especially about cooperatives.  He appears to approach his job with a customer service mentality and is very community minded.  He is approachable and easy to talk to, with a dry sense of humor and a no-nonsense attitude.  He says his personal motto, which is etched in stone on his desk (on the back of his name plate, facing him) is “Non Sibi, Seb Aliis,” Not for Themselves, But for Others.

Perry and wife Linda are purchasing a home in Vernonia with a yard for Megan, their Labrador retriever.  Together Bob and Linda enjoy riding motorcycles and kayaking.  Linda likes to quilt and garden; Bob says he enjoys shooting sports, fishing and amateur radio.  Bob, who is of Scottish decent, also owns and plays a set of bagpipes.  Perry says he will become a member of the Lions Club and would like to be an active member of the Chamber of Commerce.

The question on everyone’s minds about the new General Manager is, of course, “Can you lower our electric rates?”  Perry’s answer, though probably not what the members want to hear, was a simple, no.

“You have a certain revenue requirement to pay your bills,” explained Perry.  “That is just a fact of life.  The economics of this co-op are not going to change.  It’s not that we can lower rates.  I think looking forward we could stabilize rates.”  Read More

An Opinion: Some Other Ways of Looking at High Electric Bills

By Scott Laird


Did any of you experience a little sticker shock when you opened your West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC)  bill last month?  Many of you have expressed surprise when you opened that  bill right before Christmas.  Everyone knows we have high electric rates in Vernonia.  We can debate the reasons and whether they are fair or necessary until the cows come home.  Unfortunately, at least a portion of those high rates are just part of living in a rural area with an extremely rural service district like ours.   There are reasons our rates are so high, reasons we have little control over.  But there some areas over which we do have some control.

Over the last few weeks I have talked with numerous people about their electric bills and followed several discussions on Facebook.  Obviously some people are upset at the high bill they received; others are more understanding.  Still others didn’t experience a huge increase and are basically satisfied with their local utility.

In other words, there are a myriad of ways Vernonians can view their electric rates as well as  ways we might try to deal with those rates.  If we can’t control high rates, at least we can try to understand them.

First of all, electricity is a wonderful convenience that offers those of us who live in the modern world many comforts and amenities.  Just think about all the ways you may use your electric service in any given day.  Your alarm clock goes off; you turn on lights around your home; turn on the heat, air conditioning or fans; turn on your coffee maker, take a hot shower; cook or make your breakfast, using food from your refrigerator and freezer,  on your stove or in your blender; run a load of dishes in the dishwasher; turn on your computer and check and send emails; turn on the cable television to check the news; put in a video for the kids to watch; wash and dry a load of laundry, run the vacuum cleaner, run power tools in your shop, fill your car tires with air from your air compressor, charge your cell phone, make copies on your printer… and on and on and on.  Hopefully you get the idea.

Many of us were without power last week when a log truck knocked down a power pole on Bridge Street and once again had the opportunity to experience firsthand living modern life without the convenience of electric power.

If your electric bill was $300 last month, you paid $10 a day for all those conveniences.  When I look at it that way it actually seems like a pretty good deal. I feel like I get a lot for my money and others have told me the same.

That’s one way of looking at your high electric bill. Read More

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!  


LightSpeed Networks Expands High Speed Internet Service to Vernonia

Portland based telecommunications company LightSpeed Networks (LSN) is pleased to announce the expansion of its service area to include Vernonia. The expansion was initiated in collaboration with the Oregon Health Network to deliver internet services to Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc.’s Bridge Street Clinic.

LSN, one of the Pacific Northwest’s fastest growing telecommunications companies, has extended its fiber optic network into Vernonia. LSN’s recent growth into Vernonia reflects the company’s goal of selectively expanding its network infrastructure to support the growing demands of its commercial and wholesale customers. As a fiber-based Network Operator, LSN will offer competitively priced and customizable network solutions to Vernonia’s business community, and healthcare providers, municipal government offices and local schools. Read More

VSD Receives $95K for Energy Efficiency

Left to right:  Dan Murphy, WOEC Director; Sarah Rossi, WOEC Executive Assistant & Energy Efficiency Coordinator; Bob Paleck, WOEC Director; Bill Langmaid, Vernonia School District Board Chairman; Ken Cox, Vernonia School Superintendent; Margaret Ryan, PNGC Manager Member Services; Marc Farmer, WOEC General Manager; Doug Brawley, PNGC Senior Vice President Power Management.  Photo courtesy of  David Western, Manager of Administration & Finance for WOEC.

Left to right:  Dan Murphy, WOEC Director; Sarah Rossi, WOEC Executive Assistant & Energy Efficiency Coordinator; Bob Paleck, WOEC Director; Bill Langmaid, Vernonia School District Board Chairman; Ken Cox, Vernonia School Superintendent; Margaret Ryan, PNGC Manager Member Services; Marc Farmer, WOEC General Manager; Doug Brawley, PNGC Senior Vice President Power Management. Photo courtesy of David Western, Manager of Administration & Finance for WOEC.

At the October 10, 2013 Vernonia School Board meeting, the Vernonia School District (VSD) was presented with a check for $ 95,000.

The check was for the outstanding energy efficiency measures that were incorporated into the new school building construction and comes from  the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) conservation and energy efficiency program that West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC) participates in through PNGC Power.

“This is the same program that provides rebate money for our clothes washer rebates, weatherization like new windows & insulation, and commercial lighting projects,” said Sarah Rossi, WOEC’s Energy Efficiency Coordinator who has worked on the project for the last  three years.  “We have provided rebates for Jewell School and the Timber Fire Station for lighting projects and numerous residential members for clothes washers and weatherization rebates over the years. We also did a large low income housing weatherization project for 5 Rock Ranch in our Yamhill area of our service territory.” Read More

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


The Sounding Board: WOEC Elections are Nigh!

In my headline I am referring to the two positions for Districts #2 and #5 on our Board of Directors at West Oregon Electric.  Nominations for these positions are being taken this month and the actual elections will take place at the WOEC annual meeting on Saturday, August 17th.   Important:  If voting by mail, please hold off doing so, at least through July; so, we can find worthy write-in candidates for these two positions.

Why is this so important?  Because it may turn out that replacing the entire Board of Directors might be the only way we can regain control of our electric co-op.

Unfortunately, it would take us over 3 years to elect a whole new Board.  So we must continue to try to get our current representatives to help us find a solution.  We can’t wait three years and I would prefer to not throw the baby out with the bath water.  This Board, even as presently constituted, is probably as capable as anyone we could find to replace them;  but they’ve gotten into some bad habits and simply refuse to acknowledge that our rates are unacceptable and that it’s their job to control them.   Rather than contrition all I’ve seen so far is denial and a measure of indignation. Read More