Manager’s Message

2014 Annual Meeting Results

Director Elections

At the 75th annual meeting of Wasco Electric Cooperative held November 15, the following members were elected to the board of directors for three-year terms:

  • District 1: Mathew Clausen
  • District 2: Incumbent Ron Holmes
  • District 3: Incumbent DeOra Patton

2014 Board of Director Election Results

Board Positions

In an organizational meeting after the annual meeting, the following directors were elected to board positions:

  • President Ron Homes
  • Vice President Mike Collins
  • Secretary Jim McNamee
  • Treasurer Kelly McGreer

Board Member Retirement & 75th Annual Meeting

Board Member Retirement

After 29 years of dedicated service to the electric industry, Neal Harth will retire from the Wasco Electric Cooperative Board of Directors at the end of this year’s annual meeting.

Neal began his career of service with WEC in 1985. He has served in various capacities, including board secretary for several years and president from 1993 to 2009. He served on numerous co-op committees and oversaw the selection of three different general managers.

In addition to the WEC board, Neal has served on the board of directors of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, including as president in 2000. He served on the board of the Northwest Public Power Association from 2004 through 2012. During his service with NWPPA, Neal served through all of the officer positions, including president in 2010 to 2011. He also was a regular participant in the annual legislative rally in Washington, D.C.

Neal is highly respected both locally and regionally for his efforts on behalf of rural electric co-op and public power consumers. In 2011, he was the recipient of the NWPPA John M. George Award for remarkable service to public power. Also in 2011, Neal received the ORECA distinguished service award.

I want to thank Neal for the years and countless hours he has dedicated to the members of Wasco Electric and cooperatives across the region. His wisdom and leadership in the boardroom truly has made a difference in your cooperative.

Thank you, Neal!

75th Annual Meeting

I would like to invite each member to attend this year’s annual meeting Saturday, November 15, at the Civic Auditorium in The Dalles. The doors open for registration at 11 a.m. and lunch is served at noon.

We will have a catered buffet luncheon; musical entertainment; a guest speaker; reports from the board, manager, attorney and auditor; and the election of three board members for three-year terms. There will be prize drawings throughout the meeting.

The information booklets—including resumes of the candidates for election, the program of the day, financial reports and the ballots for the director election—were mailed to each member October 30. The photos and resumes of the candidates are on pages 4 and 5 of this issue of Ruralite.

We look forward to seeing you at the annual meeting. If you are unable to attend, please mail your absentee ballot to Secretary, c/o Wasco Electric Cooperative, P.O. Box 1700, The Dalles, OR, 97058, or drop them at the office by Friday, November 14.

 

Jeff Davis, General Manager

Electricity Remains a Good Value

In today’s world, you won’t find many items that cost less than $5. You can buy a gallon of milk, a gallon of gas or a Big Mac meal from McDonald’s. But did you know that an average day’s worth of electricity costs less than $5?

Even in our country’s shifting energy climate, electricity remains a good value. In fact, electricity has the lowest cost per day of any of the items listed above. And not all of those items are necessary for daily life!

As general manager of Wasco Electric Cooperative, I urge you to think about your daily necessities: electricity and gasoline, to name two. Then think about the cost of the special treats we allow ourselves to buy on a weekly basis—maybe even on a daily basis for some items.

We don’t often question the cost of a Big Mac meal, but it costs more than $1 more to buy a Big Mac meal than it does to buy a day’s worth of power. And yet we frequently become upset if our electricity rates rise.

It makes sense. We are increasingly reliant upon electricity. Electricity has, for many of us, gone from a luxury commodity to a necessity and an expectation. We expect the lights to come on when we flip the switch, and we expect our power to stay on during the best and worst conditions. How else would we keep our food fresh, our homes cool in the summer or warm in the winter?

It is easy to cut a Big Mac out of your spending routine here and there to save a few dollars. But we cannot simply cut electricity out of our budgets if times get tough or we decide we want to scale back our spending to save.

Perhaps that is why it is so upsetting
to us when our rates increase, even if only in small increments. It is nearly impossible for us to think about what our lives would be like if we did not have electricity.

If at times it doesn’t seem that electricity is affordable, remember: Even as the demand for electricity grows, annual cost increases still remain low, especially when compared to other consumer goods such as medical care, education, gasoline and, yes, even Big Macs.

Electricity is still a great bargain. As the general manager of Wasco Electric Cooperative, I am committed to making sure you and your family always have safe, reliable and affordable electric service in your home.

So the next time you crave a Big Mac, remember your electric bill, and think about what a great deal you’re getting for your dollar.

 

Jeff Davis, General Manager

Cooperative Awards Community Grants & Youth Programs

Each year, the cooperative supports the development of projects throughout its service area with its economic/community development grant program.

This year, the cooperative’s grant committee awarded a $2,500 grant to the Juniper Flat Rural Fire Protection District for a lighting project at each of the district’s three fire stations.

Youth Programs

This summer, the cooperative sponsors area students as they attend utility-related youth tours.

In June, Michael Stephens, a recent graduate of The Dalles-Wahtonka High School, attended the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Washington, D.C., Youth Tour. Michael, along with more than 1,600 cooperative-sponsored students representing 43 states, converged on the nation’s capital for a week of touring landmarks, meeting with state representatives and honing leadership skills.

This month, Rose Stephens from The Dalles-Wahtonka High School—along with Michael, who is returning as a camp counselor—will attend the Idaho Youth Rally in Caldwell, Idaho.

This camp attracts student from several Western states for a week of motivational speakers and education on the utility industry and the cooperative way of doing business.

These tours are a great investment in not only today’s youth, but in tomorrow’s leaders. Congratulations to Michael and Rose.

As always, if you have questions or concerns regarding your cooperative, please feel free to stop by or give us a call.

Summer Safety

With the arrival of summer comes an increase in outdoor activities. Whether you are out and about for work or pleasure, please be aware of where overhead power lines are located in relation to your activities.

If you come across a downed power line, stay away from it, protect the area and call the power company immediately.

In addition to increased outdoor activities, summer also brings fire season. In the event of a fire that may potentially threaten the cooperative’s distribution or transmission lines, please call the office immediately.

To prevent yourself or a loved one from becoming a victim of an electrical accident, follow these other electrical safety tips:

  • Before digging into the ground, be sure to call 811. They will mark underground utilities to make sure you don’t come in contact with power lines, gas lines or any other utilities. One wrong move can result in death or injury from electric shock or an explosion.
  • Don’t plant tall-growing trees under lines. If a tree has lines running through it, don’t climb it or build anything in it.
  • Stay away from downed power lines. If someone comes in contact with a live outdoor power line, call Wasco Electric immediately so the power can be turned off.
  • Never fly kites, model airplanes or metallic balloons near power lines or in stormy weather. Avoid using metal or wire on kites. If your kite or balloon gets snagged on overhead lines, don’t try to untangle it. Call us at (541) 296-2740 immediately.

Have a safe and enjoyable summer!

High School Graduates

The board of directors and the employees of Wasco Electric Cooperative offer our congratulations to the 2014 graduates from area high schools.

One of the ways the co-op supports local young people is through its contribution to the high school’s graduating class drug- and alcohol-free graduation parties.

The high schools we support in this manner are The Dalles-Wahtonka, Dufur, Sherman County, South Wasco County and Madras.

Again, congratulations and good luck in your future, wherever it may take you.

As always, if you have any questions about your cooperative, please feel free to call or stop by the office.

Jeff Davis, General Manager

Factors of your Electric Bill

The cost of the power you use is the biggest factor in your monthly bill from Wasco Electric Cooperative. We purchase all of our energy needs from the Bonneville Power Administration. We, along with the other public power utilities in the region,  track BPA’s financial obligations and expenditures carefully—and push back frequently—because all of BPA’s revenue comes from ratepayers like you, our members.

Among the major factors that affect what we all pay for electricity are BPA’s conservation and fish and wildlife programs. BPA acts in accordance with federal and state laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Northwest Power Act and legal proceedings related to salmon protection in the Columbia Basin. Understandably, BPA works to mitigate the impact of the federal hydropower system on fish and wildlife by funding projects in the Columbia Basin focused on fish and wildlife, habitat restoration, hatcheries, land acquisition, predator control, research and evaluation. These efforts have made a difference. More fish are returning to the Columbia River now than at any time since Bonneville Dam came online in 1938.

One of the driving factors of BPA’s fish and wildlife spending is the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. Established by the Northwest Power Act, the council is comprised of two representatives from each Northwest state: Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The council directs BPA on spending for protection, mitigation and enhancement of the fish and wildlife affected by operation of the federal dams in the Columbia Basin. Every five years the council must amend its fish and wildlife plan.

Currently, the council is considering amendments to this plan. The state of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe have proposed a new amendment to the plan to test whether spilling more water over the dams—and, consequently, not generating electricity with it—at certain times of the year for 10 years will help salmon.

Wasco Electric strongly opposes this proposal. Not only will it endanger fish due to increased dissolved gas levels in the water, but to replace this power BPA will have to purchase power on the open market. This proposal could cost all ratepayers about $110 million per year. That’s more than $1 billion during the course of the experiment. BPA estimates that, if enacted, this experiment will cause an almost 8 percent wholesale power rate increase. This 8 percent increase would be in addition to nearly $700 million BPA currently spends annually on fish and wildlife.

We and our contemporaries are working to educate the council about the state of Oregon/Nez Perce spill test proposal. The council already has received a negative scientific review of the spill proposal from its independent science advisory board. The council will hold public hearings later this spring. WEC and other utility representatives will be active participants in this process.

I will keep you up to date on this issue and other factors affecting your electric bill, and what we are doing to keep it as low as possible.

 

Jeff Davis, General Manager

Telling our Hydro and Rivers Story

You may have noticed recent TV advertisements that celebrate CleanHydro, an informational campaign that is raising awareness of the tremendous value of the Columbia and Snake river system. I am proud that Wasco Electric Cooperative is a part of this effort—now in its second year—because the Northwest’s hydropower dams and rivers benefit all of us and our members in many ways.

We joined this campaign because hydropower isn’t capturing the same kind of attention in the eyes of the public as it once did. There are several reasons for this; chief among them is that many people have moved to the Northwest from other parts of the country where hydropower wasn’t a daily part of their lives. Many of our young people haven’t grown up with the dams as we have and so may not understand their value. And, dramatic changes in the energy industry and government-led efforts to encourage other types of renewable energy—such as wind—have dominated news media headlines.

That is why we need to continue to tell the incredible story of our dams, hydropower and the Columbia and Snake rivers through CleanHydro. Last year, the campaign increased support for hydro across the board by demonstrating its value to the Northwest’s environment and economy. But our work is not done, which is why it is so important to Wasco Electric to be a part of this public education effort again this year. It will take a sustained effort to regain lost ground and keep the value of hydro firmly planted in the public’s mind and in conversations and debates about our energy future.

I hope you also will take a moment to visit,  www.cleanhydro.com so you can view the TV and print advertisements. While the advertisements promote the key ways hydropower and the rivers affect our lives, the website tells more about these amazing resources in greater detail. Please share it with your friends and families so they, too, can feel the same sense of pride about what we have right here in our own Northwest backyard.

Join us and help spread the word about this tremendous asset to our Northwest way of life.

Jeff Davis, General Manager

Capital Credit Change

At the January board meeting, the Wasco Electric Board of Directors decided to change—consistent with the current bylaws—how the cooperative retires the accrued capital credits of deceased members.

The current practice of retiring, upon request by a legal heir, 100 percent of a deceased members capital credit balance in an accelerated, one-time payment—rather than waiting for the normal retirement cycle—will be replaced with a discounted one-time payment.

Beginning in March, when the legal heir of a deceased member requests the payment of all annually accrued capital credits, those capital credits will be discounted using the net present value of money calculation in exchange for the early retirement. The discount rate used in the NPV calculation will be the cooperative’s actual five-year average weighted cost of capital, currently 7.25 percent.

If the heir chooses to receive the full value of the accrued margins, he or she is required to wait until the normal annual capital credit retirement cycle clears the balance of the deceased member’s account, currently about 28 years.

This change adopted by the board of directors comes from the recommendation of the cooperative’s Capital Credits Committee members, who spent the past year examining the financial impact of accelerated retirements—the co-op paid out more than $112,000 in 2013—as well as the business model of other cooperatives’ estate retirement processes. The committee found most electric cooperatives across the country use some means of discounting estate payments in exchange for the early, one-time payout of accrued margins.

If you have any questions regarding this change in policy, please feel free to contact me at our office at 541-296-2740.

Jeff Davis, General Manager

Rate Increase Effective

In July, Bonneville Power Administration announced a regionwide rate increase to both its power and transmission services. This increase resulted in an increase to Wasco Electric of 9.2 percent for power and 9.3 percent for transmission services.

The increase in wholesale rates stems from higher costs to operate and maintain the aging hydro system, higher long-term fish and wildlife costs, upgrades to an aging transmission system and reduced revenues from surplus power sales due to lower market prices for energy.

Following much deliberation and review with staff of the financial forecast and revenue requirements of the co-op during the past few months, the board of directors, at the regular September board meeting, approved an 8 percent overall rate increase to all rate schedules of the cooperative, effective with the November 2013 billing.

The rate increase is intended to cover the increased costs from BPA to its wholesale power and transmission rates, cover the cost of debt service to the loans for the system rebuilding during the past several years, maintain reasonable cash reserves, retire accrued margins, and pay for increased costs of goods and services to the co-op.

We understand the hardships and frustrations many of our members face, but we must make responsible financial decisions for the overall well-being of the cooperative and continued reliability of the electric system for today and into the future.

Increasing costs make energy efficiency more important than ever. We will continue to encourage our members to take advantage of our energy-saving incentive programs. The smarter we are about our energy use now, the less power we will need in the future.

Rate Increase Effective November 2013

In late July Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) announced a region-wide rate increase to both its power and transmission services. This increase resulted in an increase to Wasco Electric of 9.2% for power and 9.3% for transmission services.

The increase in wholesale rates stem from higher costs to operate and maintain the aging hydro system, higher long-term fish and wildlife costs, upgrades to an aging transmission system and the reduced revenues from surplus power sales due to lower market prices for energy.

Following much deliberation and review with staff of the financial forecast and revenue requirements of the co-op over the past couple of months, the Board of Directors, at the regular September board meeting, approved an 8% overall rate increase to all rate schedules of the cooperative effective with the November 2013 billing.

The purpose of the rate increase is to: cover the increased costs from BPA to the wholesale power and transmission rates, cover the cost of debt service to the loans for the system rebuilding that has taken place over the past several years, maintain reasonable cash reserves, retire accrued margins, and pay for increased costs of goods and services to the co-op.

We understand the hardships and frustrations that many of our members face, but we must make responsible financial decisions for the overall well-being of the cooperative and continued reliability of the electric system for today and into the future.

Increasing costs make energy efficiency more important than ever and we will continue to encourage our members to take advantage of our energy saving incentive programs. The smarter we are about our energy use now, the less power we’ll need in the future.

November 1, 2013 Rates

Questions? Call 800.341.8580