Manager’s Message

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

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — August 2020

Jeff DavisRobert “Bo” Gridley Retires

Wasco Electric Cooperative employee Robert “Bo” Gridley retires this month after 23 years of service.

Bo began his career with Wasco Electric in 1997 as a journeyman lineman in The Dalles and advanced to the position of crew foreman in 2018. During his years of work, Bo made many friendships both in the cooperative as well as within the community of The Dalles.

Bo and his wife, Jan, will relocate to their new home in Idaho to be closer to family. I am sure Bo will find some great new fishing and hunting spots as they settle in the community.

We all wish Bo and Jan the best in their retirement years.

Nominees for WEC Board

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

Directors appoint a committee of at least five members, but not more than 11, not less than 30 days nor more than 90 days before the date of the annual meeting. Those members 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 less 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.
  • District 2 encompasses Sherman County and southeast Wasco County, including Shaniko, Antelope, and Ashwood.
  • District 3 includes Tygh Valley, Maupin, and the Warm Springs Reservation.

If you are a member 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.

If you want to become a nominee by petition, please submit your petition containing 15 member signatures to the WEC office by Friday, September 11, so your picture
and resume will be received in time for publication in the annual meeting booklet and Ruralite.

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

If you are asked to serve on the nominating committee, we ask that you try to attend the meeting and offer your input for the good of your cooperative.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — July 2020

Jeff DavisCasey McCleary Retires

Wasco Electric Cooperative employee Casey McCleary retires this month after nearly 37 years of service.

Casey began his career with the co-op in 1983 as a journeyman lineman in The Dalles. He advanced to manager of operations, a position he has held since 1994.

During his years at WEC, Casey created many friendships, both in the cooperative as well as with the cooperative membership and contractors he worked with.

In addition to his work with the cooperative, Casey and his wife, Shawn, have been active in The Dalles community. They raised three children, all who graduated from The Dalles High School.

Casey’s plans for retirement will surely center around spending time with his family, camping, fishing, and tending to his immaculate yard.

The staff and I will miss Casey’s dedication to his job and the knowledge he has acquired, as well as the friendship we developed while working together. We all wish him the very best in his retirement years.

New Manager of Operations

I am pleased to announce that Brian Vosburgh has been named the new manager of operations.

Brian has been in the engineering and operations side of the utility business for more than 35 years. Prior to his position as systems engineer with WEC, Brian was distribution engineering supervisor at Tillamook PUD. Prior to Tillamook, he spent 18 years at Kittitas PUD, where he was the operations manager for six years, overseeing the line crews, tree-trimming crews, and fleet management, as well as many other position duties.

Brian begins his new position July 1. I look forward to his leadership overseeing the operations side of the cooperative.

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 in relation to your activities.

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

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

Have a safe and enjoyable summer!

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — June 2020

WEC Continues to Respond to COVID-19

Jeff DavisDuring this ongoing health crisis, Wasco Electric Cooperative’s priority continues to be the safety and well-being of its members and employees. Keeping our workforce and key personnel—linemen, servicemen, engineers, and customer service representatives—healthy and available is imperative to provide safe and reliable electric service.

Following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order, WEC is doing its part to protect its employees and members from contracting and spreading COVID-19.

We hope that as you read this, we are getting our staff back to the office and field full time. However, whether we are working remotely or rotating staff within the office, we will continue to practice good hygiene by continually washing our hands, covering our cough or sneeze, and practicing social distancing.

We have also asked any employees who are feeling sick or taking care of a sick family member to stay home.

To help in our efforts, in addition to our janitorial service disinfecting our office throughout the business week, employees are strongly encouraged to frequently do the same with their workstations. Outside employees—including line crews, servicemen, and engineers—are also following social distancing measures, including traveling in separate vehicles to job sites. Preferred communication with members and contractors is by email or phone. Any in-person meeting strictly follows social distancing guidelines.

As a safety precaution, we closed our lobby to members, vendors, and public traffic March 23. Although we do not know when we will open to the public, we are still here for members to discuss accounts, make payments, discuss payment arrangements, plan a new service or reconnect a service, among many other services provided.

With our lobby closed, we encourage members to consider different payment options.

WEC understands and recognizes the financial difficulties the current health crisis imposes on members throughout our communities. To help keep the lights on, WEC is doing everything it can to work with you, including making payment arrangements and providing available resources for assistance.

During this time, we have suspended disconnections and late fees. With these adjustments, it is important to remember you are still responsible for paying your electric bill. We strongly encourage you to set up a payment plan to prevent accumulating an unmanageable balance.

If you are looking for ways to help the many members in need, please consider donating to our WECare program. The program helps our members with their electric bills when they encounter financial difficulties. To donate, you can either send in a check, noting “WECare Donation,” or call our customer service representatives and donate with an e-check or debit/credit card. All donations are tax-deductible.

As we navigate these unprecedented times, we want to thank our members for their continued support and patience as we continue to provide safe and reliable electric service.

For more information about the cooperative, visit our website, follow our Facebook page, or call (541) 296-2740.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — May 2020

Jeff DavisThe changes in our day-to-day activities have made life a little different for all of us since the COVID-19 outbreak. I want to thank all of you for your patience and support as we work through the constraints that have been put into place to try to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Most of our workforce is working completely or partially remotely. All field personnel are taking unique measures
to maintain separation and avoid an internal outbreak that could cripple our core resources. We have implemented such measures, along with closing our office, for the safety of our employees and members, and to protect the critical operations of the utility, ensuring the essential flow of power is maintained.

During this time, you certainly have shifted—by choice or by necessity, in some cases—your habits of interactions with your community and businesses that are still able to operate. Here at the cooperative, we want to ensure we can help minimize these disruptions and ease the potential frustration often felt by such changes. To that end, I want to share a few ways you can continue interaction with your cooperative.

Whether you need to pay your power bill, have questions regarding your account or are a new member wanting to sign up for power, you can still call the office during this closure. When calling the office, it will ring through to our answering service, which will pass along your name and phone number to one of our customer service representatives, who will return your call shortly thereafter. Other options for paying your bill include our online portal on our webpage or signing up for our monthly recurring auto-pay program.

Again, I thank you for your patience during these difficult times. I would also like to say how proud I am of our employees. They have remained positive throughout this change and have helped make the situation as smooth as possible. I am thankful for all utility industry employees who are still working to make sure power is generated and delivered to your homes. We sometimes take for granted the miracle that happens each time we flip a switch.

I hope you and your families stay well, and our communities and businesses can work through this unprecedented event together, coming out stronger than ever.

Jeff Davis
General Manager