Manager’s Message

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

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — April 2020

Board Member Recognition

Headshot of Stacy Eakin
Stacy Eakin

In December, Wasco Electric Cooperative Director Stacy Eakin completed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Credentialed Cooperative Director program.

During the past two years, Stacy completed the required courses to earn her CCD certificate. She joins the other eight WEC directors as credentialed board members.

The CCD program consists of five training courses covering director duties and liabilities, understanding the electric business, board roles and relationships, strategic planning and financial decision-making, which are modeled specific to the electric utility industry.

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

Oregon Empowers Guatemala Project Postponed

In our March Ruralite, we told members about Oregon Empowers Guatemala—a project to electrify a small village in Aldea Montanita de la Virgen.

It is with great disappointment that the Oregon cooperatives decided to postpone the project. With the impact COVID-19 has had globally and across our country, we feel this is the best decision to keep everyone involved as healthy as possible.

Once a new timeline has been set, we will be sure to keep everyone informed. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about this great project, please visit www.oregonempowers.com.

COVID-19

Wasco Electric strives to maintain the health and safety of our employees and members along with ensuring our essential operations continue. During the next few weeks, we will continue to closely monitor the progression of COVID-19 and update our membership with steps we are taking or continuing to take to provide the excellent service you have come to expect from us.

While the office is closed to the public, we will remain available to take debit/credit cards or checks by phone at 541-296-2740. Members also have access to our online portal through our website at www.wascoelectric.com.

Please continue to monitor our website and Facebook page for updated information.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

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Manager’s Message — March 2020, Oregon Empowers

Oregon’s Electric Cooperatives Team Up to Electrify Guatemala

Oregon Empowers Guatamala 2020The Oregon Rural Cooperative Association and electric co-ops across Oregon are embarking on an ambitious project to electrify a remote village in the mountains of Guatemala. In April, a team of more than a dozen volunteer linemen and electrical experts from Oregon cooperatives will bring power to an area that has none, creating a foundation for the village to achieve future economic prosperity and experience an improved quality of life.

This electrification project, called Oregon Empowers Guatemala, is coordinated through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s philanthropic arm, NRECA International.

“Bringing electricity to regions that have none takes us back to our roots of rural electrification,” says Jeff Davis, Wasco Electric Cooperative general manager.

Volunteers will build an electrical distribution system in the village of Aldea Montanita de la Virgen in the district of Jalapa, a mountainous region in the southeastern part of the country. The village has 60 homes that typically consist of two to three rooms. The center of the village has three structures: a church, a community/health center, and a three-room schoolhouse—all without electricity. Locals live humbly without running water, food refrigeration or electric appliances. The community truly is a subsistence community.

Villagers live on what they grow, including corn, beans, bananas, watermelons, squash, fruits, chickens, turkeys, and game hens. They grow coffee to sell for income.

The Oregon Empowers team will wire all 60 homes and the three community buildings for electricity. The primary system will include 32 poles and four transformers on 3.1 miles of primary line and 2.5 miles of secondary line. Most of the terrain consists of steep hillsides.

The Oregon Empowers committee, comprised of cooperative leaders and trustees from the statewide association, selected a team of 13 volunteers for the upcoming trip.

“We are grateful for the overwhelming response of Oregon cooperative linemen who are willing to leave their homes for an extended period of time to empower far- away communities,” says Les Penning, CEO of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative and chairman of the Oregon Empowers committee. “Access to electricity will bring economic empowerment, better access to health care and enhanced safety for these villagers.”

Oregon’s electric cooperatives have established a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Oregon Empowers Foundation to support this cause. All contributions are tax-deductible.

For more details and to contribute to the project, visit the Oregon Empowers website.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — February 2020

Announcing an Energy-Efficiency Partnership

Jeff DavisWasco Electric Cooperative has partnered with Efficiency Services Group to manage our energy conservation programs. ESG provides energy audits to WEC members to help identify possible money-saving measures within your home, along with information on available rebates.

We are proud to be a resource for our members to learn more about using electricity efficiently and to meet the needs of their household. WEC offers several energy-saving programs through rebates. These programs include appliance rebates, ductless heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and home weatherization rebates for windows and insulation. For more information on our current programs, please visit our website or contact our office at (541) 296-2740.

Interested in an energy audit? Call ESG at (888) 883-9879 or WEC at (541) 296-2740 to have a trained ESG representative visit with you at your home to discuss your areas of concerns and available rebates. During this visit, the representative will provide on-the-spot recommendations for energy-efficiency upgrades that could improve the efficiency of your home, such as our heat pump water heater program, LED lighting or ductless heat pumps.

This program is offered as a benefit for members at no cost. These audits are funded through the Bonneville Power Administration’s Conservation and Energy Efficiency program. WEC works in conjunction with BPA’s programs to provide valuable resources to our members to help them save energy and, ultimately, lower their electric bill.

The ESG representatives are committed to helping our members save energy and money. When in our service territory completing audits, the ESG representatives will have logos on their vehicles and wear badges identifying themselves. If you have any questions prior to your visit or want to verify the person visiting with you is an ESG representative, call ESG at (888) 883-9879 or our office at (541) 296-2740.

To schedule a weatherization audit, contact ESG at (888) 883-9879 or our office at (541) 296-2740.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — January 2020

The Value of Bonneville Power

Jeff DavisMedia reports questioning the solvency of the Bonneville Power Administration continue to appear in both regional and national media outlets. We would like to respond directly to these outlandish, unsubstantiated and unfair claims.

BPA is in no way insolvent or in danger of becoming insolvent. Its contracts with public power utilities in the Northwest guarantee coverage of its costs. BPA has made 36 consecutive annual payments to the U.S. Treasury, fully repaying investments in the federal hydro system. In fact, third-party credit rating services such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have all affirmed BPA is on solid financial footing.

That being said, the competitiveness of BPA’s rates in the future is a legitimate concern for BPA and its public power customers. Our power purchases from BPA come bundled with many valuable services, making a direct cost comparison with standard spot-market purchases difficult and complex. This important fact is often overlooked or ignored by BPA’s critics, and the reports make unfair apples-to-oranges comparisons. A better statement of BPA’s competitive situation is that we are concerned about BPA’s ability to mitigate the layering of considerable cost pressures driven by operational, market and ongoing legal challenges to the operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System.

BPA’s response to our competitiveness concerns by holding the line on wholesale power rates for the current two-year rate period is appropriate and appreciated, although we firmly object to the surcharge BPA just imposed to increase its financial reserves. To ensure future competitiveness, we believe it is critical for BPA to exercise strict cost controls and keep wholesale power rates level for future rate periods.

The not-for-profit community-owned Northwest utilities that make up the bulk of BPA’s revenues are working to support BPA in its efforts to reduce costs and increase revenue opportunities. BPA’s cost competitiveness is a crucial issue as we consider our long-term power supply options prior to the expiration of our current BPA contracts in 2028.

The federal dams on the Columbia and Lower Snake rivers provide many valuable economic and environmental benefits, including shipping, irrigation, flood control and recreation. They are also critical to our clean energy future. The federal hydro system is also the largest source of flexible, carbon-free energy in the Northwest. It helps us add new solar and wind, and is critical to avoiding blackouts in the region. It’s essential to adequately account for all of these factors when placing a value on the power we buy from BPA.

BPA’s mission is multipurpose. We in public power understand the crucial role the agency plays in the Northwest.
Wasco Electric Cooperative and the rest of the region’s not-for-profit utilities remain committed to holding the agency accountable for its costs and spending decisions, yet we also see great opportunities for BPA and the federal hydro system to support the Pacific Northwest economy and way of life for the foreseeable future.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Inside Ruralite, Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — December 2019

Capital Credit Retirement

Jeff DavisThis month, Wasco Electric Cooperative will retire all of the 1989 and a portion of the 1990 capital margins back to members and former members.

The total capital credits returned to members who received service in 1989 and 1990 will be $500,000. In addition to these general retirements, the co-op retired $46,000 to the estates of deceased members during the year, bringing the total capital credits to be returned to members in 2019 to $546,000.

Capital credits are unique to cooperatives such as Wasco Electric. Investor-owned power companies make profits and pay dividends to stockholders, but 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— the 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 larger your share of the capital credits.

Each February, members who received service the prior year are mailed a statement of their prior year’s capital credit allocation. The member’s allocation amount is based on the year-end operating margin.

Capital credits are not necessarily dollars in a bank account. Instead, they represent funds that have been invested in the co-op’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; i.e., pay principal and interest on money it has borrowed.

The cooperative 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.
Your board of directors considers distribution of capital credits and the effect on the financial well-being of the cooperative each year. The board has the discretion to return capital credits as long as the co-op is financially fit to return them without any additional borrowing to pay capital credits.

Happy Holidays

The board of directors and employees of Wasco Electric wish each of you a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2020. It has been our pleasure to serve you this year.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – November 2019

Join Us for Our 80th Annual Meeting

Jeff DavisI would like to invite each member to attend this year’s annual meeting Saturday, November 23, at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, 402 W. Scenic Drive in The Dalles. Doors open for registration at 11 a.m. A catered buffet lunch is served at noon.

We will have 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 absentee ballots for the director election—were mailed to each member November 4. The photos and resumes of this year’s candidates are on pages 4 and 5 of this issue.

We look forward to seeing you at the annual meeting. If you are unable to attend, please vote and mail your absentee ballot to Secretary, c/o Wasco Electric Cooperative, P.O. Box 1700, The Dalles, OR, or drop it by the office no later than Friday, November 22.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

WEC’s annual meeting is at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center on Saturday, November 23. Doors open at 11 a.m.
WEC’s annual meeting is at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center on Saturday, November 23. Doors open at 11 a.m.