Manager’s Message

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — October 2021

Following a Sentinel

Before I interviewed for the general manager position at Wasco Electric Cooperative (WEC), I spoke with retiring manager Jeff Davis about myriad subjects to gain an understanding of the organization, employees, board, and membership.

It did not take long to realize I was speaking to a man who gave his best throughout his lengthy career because he cared deeply and was motivated to serve. Jeff was lucky because he loved his job and his community. In return, he gave the best he could because he felt obligated and wanted to be part of a great business.

When thinking of the electric cooperative business model, the ideal employee recognizes the uniqueness of how and why we exist and adopts the philosophy of benevolence. Jeff did exactly that. You were all the beneficiaries of his commitment for four decades.

I believe in setting goals. The first I have set for myself and WEC is to be as committed as Jeff was and continue supporting our employees to ensure excellent member service.

What differentiates consumer-owned utilities from investor-owned companies are the team members who are compelled to stand watch over the system and do their best to provide the magic of electricity. With customer service seemingly in decline in most industries, we will strive to give. We see our members as neighbors, community partners, and friends. We want to get the lights back on for you as quickly and safely as possible.

I look forward to traveling the service territory in the coming weeks and months and meeting our members. Fortunately, our annual meeting is fast approaching November 20, which will offer a great opportunity to get to know one another.

I am excited to be here in such an interesting geological location with unique cultures and commonsense individuals. I pledge always to respect the foundation on which WEC was built and do my best to continue what has thus far been steadfastly protected.

Ned Ratterman
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — August 2021

Cooperative News

Dan Funkhouser Retires

Wasco Electric Cooperative employee Dan Funkhouser retired at the end of July after 35 years of service.

Dan began his career with Wasco Electric in 1986 as a journeyman lineman in Grass Valley. For more than three decades, he played an integral part in providing reliable power to our members in Sherman County. The commitment and personality Dan brought to the job will be greatly missed.

Dan and his wife, Jeanene, will continue to reside in Sherman County and enjoy retirement by traveling and visiting family.

We all wish Dan the very best in his retirement years.

Nominees for WEC Board

The Wasco Electric Cooperative bylaws provide the method for nominating candidates to the board of directors.

The board of directors appoints a committee of at least five, but not more than 11, members not fewer than 30 days nor more than 90 days before the date of the annual meeting, to select nominees for election to the board.

The list of candidates must be posted in the WEC office at least 20 days before the election.

Other nominations may be made by providing a petition signed by at least 15 members, not fewer than 15 days before the election.

Candidates will be selected from three districts, with one director elected from each district each year.

  • District 1 serves The Dalles, Mosier, and Dufur areas.
  • District 2 encompasses Sherman County and Southeast Wasco County, including Shaniko, Antelope, and Ashwood.
  • District 3 includes the areas of Tygh Valley, Maupin, and Warm Springs Reservation.

If you, as a member, are interested in becoming a candidate for the board of directors, contact the Wasco Electric office so your name may be submitted to the nominating committee for consideration at its September meeting.

Members of the nominating committee appreciate hearing from members who are willing and able to serve.

If you wish to become a nominee by petition, please have your petition—containing 15 member signatures—to the WEC office by Wednesday, September 15, so your picture and résumé will be received in time for publication in the annual meeting booklet and Ruralite.

If you are asked to serve on the nominating committee, please make an effort to attend the meeting and offer your input for the good of your cooperative.

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Manager’s Message — July 2021

The End of an Unforgettable Journey

My lovely wife of 38 years, Julie, and I plan to travel during my retirement. We recently took a trip to the Painted Hills in Central Oregon.

A journey that began in December 1981 will come to an end in late August. I am retiring after nearly 40 years of service with Wasco Electric Cooperative, the last 15 as your general manager.

What began as an opportunity to do some pickup work during my college years soon blossomed into an unforgettable career opportunity.

I have been blessed to have worked with—and for—some amazing people, from fellow employees to board members and you, the members.

Throughout my career, I have met some amazing people, creating lasting friendships, and doing my best to serve the membership. For that, I thank you all.

As I leave, I have no doubt your cooperative will continue to thrive in its mission of providing you with competitively priced, reliable energy and related services. The staff at your cooperative are some of the best. Their commitment to providing you the best service possible is unwavering.

As for your next general manager, the board of directors started a search in early spring and will have selected the new manager by the end of this month, with a start date in late August.

It’s now on to my next journey in life: the joys of retirement. I thank you all for your support and trust over the years. Until we pass again, farewell my friends.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — June 2021

Jeff DavisWasco Electric Cooperative (WEC) has undertaken comprehensive efforts for the past year to develop and formalize its wildfire mitigation plan. The plan will have ongoing review as environmental conditions change and infrastructure and regulatory requirements shift.

More than 5 million acres burned in California, Oregon, and Washington in 2020, making it the most active fire year on record for the West Coast. In Oregon, extreme windstorms instigated catastrophic wildfires that burned more than 1.5 million acres, taking human life and destroying thousands of homes. Last year’s wildfires put an exclamation point on a decade in which the West experienced its deadliest and most extensive wildfires in history.

In California, investor-owned utilities came under intense public scrutiny and state legislative oversight. As a result, California’s governor signed a bill into law in 2018 requiring every electric utility to prepare a wildfire mitigation plan. This was one of many legislative attempts to promote wildfire safety and accountability.

Oregon public utilities and cooperatives are not yet legislatively mandated to file a plan with the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. That could change this year because there is a wildfire legislative proposal with such a provision. Gov. Kate Brown supports the measure and likely will sign it into law if the state Legislature approves.

Whether required or not, WEC believes developing a thorough plan is prudent and responsible. WEC’s plan takes an active and comprehensive approach tailored for our five-county service territory with the ultimate objective to minimize risk of WEC’s assets as the origin or contributing factor in a wildfire’s ignition. Goals and metrics measure effectiveness while allowing for retooling and improving the plan as practices evolve to adopt new technologies when available and feasible, and further system hardening of our infrastructure continues.

One topic that has gotten a lot of public attention is the use of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). Some utilities in the West have implemented these shutoffs to reduce wildfire threat. A PSPS may occur when the National Weather Service issues severe weather warnings for events such as extremely high winds. A recent example was last Labor Day, when the weather service warned of winds reaching 70 miles per hour on the west side of the Cascades.

Thankfully, WEC has never had to turn off power to any of its communities under such circumstances. However, there may come a time when such action is required, especially as we head further into future fire seasons. It’s an extremely difficult decision for a utility to decide to shut off power and one we wouldn’t take lightly, but safety remains our Number 1 priority.

We can anticipate, plan and prepare for the unexpected. With safety as our highest priority, WEC continues to take constructive steps toward mitigating the threat of wildfires in the communities where we live and serve.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — April 2021

Jeff DavisSpring Safety

As spring approaches, many of us are itching to get outdoors and start working or playing. As these outdoor activities begin, I want to remind all of you to be aware of overhead power lines and where they are in relationship to your activities.

Tree trimming, irrigation pipes, and ladders are of particular concern. If a line appears too close to the area in which you are working, please call us to help evaluate the situation before you start the project.

If you plan any kind of excavation project, Oregon law requires you to contact the Oregon Utility Notification Center at 811 two business days before you dig. The notification center will notify us. We will locate and mark any Wasco Electric-owned underground wires in the area to be excavated.

Capital Credits

Capital credits are unique to cooperatives such as Wasco Electric. Private power companies make profits and pay dividends to stockholders. On the other hand, cooperatives work on a not-for-profit basis and allocate their operating income back to their members.

Capital credits represent your share of the cooperative’s operating income—operating revenue remaining after operating expenses. The amount designated in your name each year depends on your energy purchases for the year. To calculate this, we divide your annual energy purchase by the cooperative’s operating income for the year. The more electricity you buy, the more capital credits you earn.

Each member recently received a statement of their 2020 capital credit allocation. The member’s allocation amount is based on the year-end operating margins of $684,844 divided by the total patronage from 2020 sales of $10,899,183. This equates to 6.28% of each member’s 2020 billings allocated back to the member.

Capital credits are not necessarily dollars in a bank account somewhere. Instead, they represent funds that have been invested in the cooperative’s utility plant.

Most months, Wasco Electric receives more cash from operations than is necessary to pay for operating expenses. However, the cooperative needs cash for purposes other than paying for operating expenses. Wasco Electric must service its debt—payments of principal and interest on money the cooperative has borrowed.

Wasco Electric must also use cash to pay for capital expenditures. The amount of cash needed for capital expenditures is largely determined by the growth of a utility and the replacement schedule of its aging system.

The distribution of capital credits and its effect on the cooperative’s financial well-being is an issue your board of directors deals with each year. It is the cooperative’s policy—and at the board’s discretion—to return capital credits as long as the cooperative is financially fit to return them without additional borrowing or the need to raise rates to pay capital credits.

In 2020, Wasco Electric refunded $500,010 in general retirements of the 1990 and 1991 capital credits. The cooperative retired $43,704 in special retirements to the estates of deceased members.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — January 2021

New Director

Sylvia McCorkle headshotAt Wasco Electric Cooperative’s November special meeting for electing directors, Sylvia McCorkle was elected to District 3 for a three-year term. Sylvia owns and operates the McCorkle Ranch on Juniper Flat outside of Maupin. The ranch has been in the McCorkle name for the past 98 years.

Sylvia serves on the Juniper Flat District Improvement Board of Directors and is a past board member of the Juniper Flat Rural Fire Protection District.

We look forward to Sylvia’s service on the cooperative’s board and bringing her up to speed on the complex and changing issues in our industry.

Outgoing Director

DeOra PattonI would like to recognize and thank DeOra Patton for her 15 years of dedicated service on the cooperative’s board of directors.

DeOra was appointed to the board in 2005 to fill a vacancy. She served the cooperative members well during her 15 years.

In addition to serving on various committees during her tenure, DeOra served as the board secretary from 2006 through 2012.

Thank you, DeOra. We wish you well.

Rate Change

In 2017, the board of directors made a strategic decision to restructure the rates charged to consumers with the intent of an eight-year phase-in. This restructuring eliminates some classifications from subsidizing others and decouples the cooperative’s fixed costs (delivery charge) from the variable energy costs (kilowatt-hours). The result of this decision to phase-in the rate change over time means small incremental adjustments to the rates each fall.

Last fall, given the financial circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic, the board of directors decided to defer the scheduled rate adjustment until April 2021.

This deferral also gives the cooperative time to see how the Bonneville Power Administration’s wholesale rate increase in October 2021 will affect the cooperative’s revenue requirements.

It is anticipated the rate adjustment will take effect April 1, 2021. As we get closer to that date, we will share what those new rates look like.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

2020 Annual Meeting Election Results

Director Elections

At the special meeting of Wasco Electric Cooperative on November 21, the following members were elected to the board of directors for three-year terms:

  • District 1: Incumbent Mathew Clausen
  • District 2: Incumbent Ron Holmes
  • District 3: Sylvia McCorkle

Board Positions

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

  • President Mike Collins
  • Vice President Mathew Clausen
  • Secretary Jerry Duling
  • Treasurer Stacy Eakin

The board of directors and employees of Wasco Electric wish each of you a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2021. It has been our pleasure to serve you this past year.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — November 2020

Jeff DavisAs previously reported, this year’s regular, in-person annual meeting has been canceled. In its place, we will hold a special meeting solely for the purpose of electing directors, as required in the bylaws. The special meeting will be held via teleconference Saturday, November 21, at 11 a.m.

This year’s director elections will be done exclusively via mail-in balloting. Your ballot will be mailed to our auditing firm, Connected Professional Accountants LLC, which will validate and tabulate the election results, and report the results of voting during the special meeting.

The information booklets—including meeting information, resumes of the candidates for election, financial reports, and the absentee ballots for the director election—were mailed to each member on November 3. Photos and resumes of this year’s candidates are on pages 4 and 5 of this issue.

Canceling the regular in-person annual meeting for the first time in our cooperative’s 81-year history was not an easy decision for your board of directors, nor one they took lightly. However, it is the right decision for the health and welfare of the co-op’s members and employees. The directors and employees look forward to reconvening at the traditional in-person annual meeting in 2021.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — October 2020

Director Recognition

Jeff DavisDirector Recognition Wasco Electric Cooperative Director Bob Hammel was recently presented with the Board Leadership Certificate of Director Education from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association for his continued education as a cooperative director. The BLC is the second level of director education achievable through the NRECA program.

The initial certificate, Credentialed Cooperative Director, is earned upon successful completion of prescribed classes detailing the role of the cooperative board and directors in today’s cooperative.

The BLC acknowledges directors who continue their education in the utility industry regarding governance, risk management, communication, rate making, and policy development.

Congratulations, Bob! I sincerely appreciate the commitment WEC directors have made in continuing their education to best serve the members of this cooperative now and in the future.

October Is National Cooperative Month

As we celebrate, I want to reflect on what co-ops bring to Americans.

More than 29,000 co-ops with about 27 million members operate in the U.S. More than 900 electric co-ops maintain nearly half of the electric distribution lines in the U.S. These lines cover three-quarters of the U.S. land mass and provide electricity to more than 42 million Americans.

Like all co-ops, Wasco Electric operates under the Seven Cooperative Principles:

Voluntary and Open Membership

Co-ops are open to all who are able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.

Democratic Member Control

Co-ops are controlled by their members, who set the policies and make decisions. Elected representatives are accountable to the members, who have equal voting rights: one member, one vote.

Members’ Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. They allocate surpluses to develop the co-op and benefit in proportion to their transactions with the co-op.

Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members.

Education, Training, and Information

Co-ops provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute to the development of their co-ops. They inform the public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members by working together locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Concern for Community

While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — September 2020

Jeff DavisAnnual Meeting Cancellation

Following much discussion and consideration of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and the meeting rules in place for Oregon, the Wasco Electric Cooperative Board of Directors has canceled the 2020 Annual Meeting of its Membership.

In place of the traditional annual meeting, the co-op will hold a special meeting for the purpose of electing directors, as required in the co-op’s bylaws. This meeting is Saturday, November 21, 2020, via teleconference. Please see our Special Meeting article for more information on the director election process this year.

The board of directors is deeply saddened to cancel the public gathering portion of our annual meeting for the first time in our cooperative’s history. However, it is the right decision for the health and welfare of the co-op’s members and employees. The directors and employees look forward to reconvening at the traditional in-person annual meeting in 2021.

WECare Donations

Each year, the cooperative reaches out to its members asking for support of those less fortunate who struggle to make financial ends meet. Your contributions to our WECare program help many families each year. We are again asking for your support this month.

With your September electric bill, you will find a donation card for you to help support your friends and neighbors. Please see our WECare Program article for more information on the benefits of this program.

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

Jeff Davis
General Manager