Tag Archives: WOEC

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

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!  


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.



•  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

Voices From the Crowd: More About Our Co-op

Members of Power of One appear to have expectations and beliefs about Oregon law which are not borne out in reality. Again, the following is an attempt to set the record straight:

West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC) is a non-profit cooperative corporation, operating under Oregon law (ORS chapter 62). All corporations and other businesses in Oregon are subject to law. Statements suggesting that WOEC is somehow not subject to law are false.

The Public Utility Commission (PUC) does not regulate Cooperatives, Municipals or Public Utility Districts (PUDs) except in matters of safety (ORS chapter 757).

The powers of the Attorney General can be found in ORS chapter 180.

Next, how is it that people re-elected multiple times to the Board are not “a model of democratic conduct”? Perhaps people are re-elected because they are doing a good job. Perhaps they are re-elected because it is a tough job and nobody else wants to do it. The board as currently constituted contains a mixture of long-time members, new members and some in between. It is a good mix. Some new board members bring new ideas to the table. New ideas are not necessarily good ideas. The older board members also have ideas, but in addition, have a memory of ideas that have been tried, some of which have succeeded and some that have failed. The bottom line is that each and every board member has been elected democratically and represents us in their decisions. They are doing their best on our behalf. There is no evidence to the contrary. Read More

An Opinion: You Don’t Have To Like the Rate Hike, Just Understand It

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

Stop Vampire Power Usage

Vampire Power (also referred to as Phantom load) could be haunting you!

This October we would like to announce our new WOEC program to help members identify the worst offenders, or biggest vampires, in their homes.  One way to fight back and take control of your household usage is to use a Kill A Watt Monitor to track the amount of electricity your appliances are using.

West Oregon Electric Cooperative has started a new program to loan out these energy monitoring devices to members free of charge!  You may check out a Kill A Watt monitor for 30 days and use it in your home to plug in different devices to see how much power they are actually using while you are asleep or away from home.

If you would like to start fighting your vampires, just come into the WOEC office and fill out the form to borrow a Kill A Watt Monitor (credit hunter). For more information on this new program please contact me, Sarah Rossi, at the WOEC office 503-429-3021 or memberservice@westoregon.org.

WOEC kill-a-watt-meter

Voices From the Crowd-Defending the Co-op

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