Manager’s Message

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Manager’s Message — June 2019

Director Recognition

Jeff Davis
Jeff Davis, General Manager

At the 79th annual meeting of the Northwest Public Power Association last month, Wasco Electric board member Ron Holmes took the reins as president of the board of trustees.

In addition to Ron’s 11 years of service on the Wasco Electric board, he has served on the NWPPA board since 2012 and was elected to the executive committee in 2017. NWPPA is an international association representing and serving consumer-owned utilities in the Western U.S. and Canada.

Congratulations, Ron. We, along with the other NWPPA member utilities from across the region, look forward to your leadership during the coming year.

High School Graduates

The board of directors and employees of Wasco Electric Cooperative offer our congratulations to the 2019 graduates from area high schools.

One way the co-op supports local youth is through our 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, Dufur, Sherman County, South Wasco County and Madras.

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

Summer Safety

With the arrival of summer comes an increase in outdoor activities. Whether you are out and about for work or pleasure, 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.

Have a safe and enjoyable summer! As always, if you have any questions about your cooperative, please feel free to call or stop by the office.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Inside Ruralite, Manager's Message

Electrical Safety Starts With You

Every electrical device has a purpose and a service lifespan. None will last forever. When electricity is involved, failures present electrical hazards.

In recognition of May being National Electrical Safety Month, Wasco Electric Cooperative recommends looking around your home and correcting any
safety hazards.

Outlets

Outdoor outlets or those in damp locations in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room often include ground-fault circuit interrupters. GFCIs are designed to sense abnormal current flow and break the circuit to prevent electric shocks from devices plugged into the outlets.

The average GFCI outlet is designed to last about 10 years. In areas prone to electrical storms or power surges, they can wear out in five years or less. Check them frequently by pressing the red test button, then hitting the black reset button. Contact a licensed electrician to replace any failing GFCI outlets.

Unstable electrical outlets or wall switches with signs of heat damage or discoloration offer early warnings of potential shock or electrical fire hazards.
Loose connections can allow electrical current arcing. If you see these signs, contact an electrician.

Surge Protectors

Power strips with surge protectors safeguard expensive electronic equipment from power spikes. Voltage spikes are measured in joules. Surge protectors are rated for the number of joules they can absorb. If your surge protector is rated at 1,000 joules, replace it when it hits that limit because that is when surge protection stops.

Some surge protectors include indicator lights that flicker to warn you when they have stopped working as designed, but many do not. If your electrical system takes a major hit, or if you don’t remember when you bought your surge protector, replace it.

Extension Cords

Extension cords are designed for temporary use. If you regularly use extension cords to connect equipment to wall outlets, you may live in an underwired home. Contact an electrician.

If an extension cord gets noticeably warm when in use, it could be undersized for the intended use. If it is frayed, cracked or has heat-damaged insulation, replace it.

If the grounding prong is missing, crimped or loose, it will not provide the protection intended. Always make sure extension cords used in outdoor or
potentially damp locations are rated for exterior use.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 51,000 electrical fires are reported each year in the U.S., causing more than $1.3 billion in property damage.

Electricity is a necessity for modern living. Wasco Electric is committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable power to members. Please keep these electrical safety tips in mind, and address potential hazards before damage occurs.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — April 2019

Jeff DavisWasco Electric Cooperative Inc. will provide its members with competitively priced, reliable energy and related services.

This is our mission statement. I want to share with you what we are doing to meet this commitment to you, the members.

Competitively Priced Energy

This does not mean the cheapest power. It means we will deliver a product to our members at the lowest possible cost it takes to serve the rural areas where you live and work.

Wasco Electric serves more than 4,700 meters spread across 1,600 miles of distribution line and five counties. The annual revenue generated from electric sales averages $6,900 per mile of line.

The cost to serve a system averaging fewer than three customers per mile is much different than the cost to serve a concentrated city load exceeding 40 customers per mile, with revenues in excess of $85,000 per mile of line.

In addition to the challenges of delivering low-cost power across a sparsely populated rural system, the rising costs of the power we buy from the Bonneville Power Administration continues to be a concern.

Reliable Energy

Ideally, we would like to have the lights on 24/7 throughout the year. However, that is not a reality given the elements our power lines are exposed to.

Your cooperative continually works to deliver the most reliable service possible.

During the past several years of an aggressive right-of-way tree-trimming program, we have nearly eliminated tree-related outages. While the costs associated with this program are relatively high, the value of clear rights-of-ways and reduced outages has paid big dividends.

In addition to tree trimming, we continue to upgrade portions of the system that have aged to the point of not being able to provide reliable service. This includes pole changeouts, upgraded lines to serve increasing loads and replacement of aging underground lines.

Related Services

In addition to the basic electric service we provide to you, the co-op offers a host of related services.

We offer rebates for several energy saving programs such as Energy Star appliances, home weatherization, heat pumps, irrigation system improvements and efficient commercial lighting upgrades.

Cooperative members have access to many local and national savings through the use of our Co-op Connections Card. Since its introduction, Wasco Electric members have saved more than $35,000 on their prescription drugs when using the Co-op Connections Card.

The co-op also offers a budget payment plan for its residential customers and on line bill view and pay through our website at www.wascoelectric.com.

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

Jeff Davis
General Manager

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Legislature Makes Cap and Trade a Priority

Ted CaseTed Case is executive director of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Salem. A native Oregonian, Ted spent 20 years in Washington, D.C., including stints as staff director of the House Water and Power Subcommittee that oversees the Bonneville Power Administration.

The Oregon Legislature is underway, and the leaders of both the House and Senate— along with Gov. Kate Brown—have made clear that passing cap-and-trade legislation is a priority. A cap-and-trade program, which California enacted several years ago, is designed to put the state of Oregon on a path toward reducing its carbon emissions.

The “cap” on emissions is a firm limit that gets stricter over time. The “trade” part is a market for companies, such as utilities and manufacturers, to buy and sell allowances that let them emit only a certain amount of carbon, as supply and demand set the price. As you can tell, it’s a bit complicated. For Oregon’s electric cooperatives, the issues are exceedingly complex.

The good news is that for Oregon electric cooperatives such as Wasco Electric, your actual carbon emissions are relatively small because of your reliance on the emission-free hydropower from the Federal Columbia River Power System. In fact, I will argue that Oregon cannot meet its ambitious carbon reduction goals without the renewable resources from our federal dams. Ironically, the state of Oregon has aggressively pursued policies and operations that significantly reduce hydropower generation at our federal dams.

There are other issues for us to consider. What will a cap-and-trade program mean for family-wage manufacturing jobs, which are so important to providing economic opportunity in rural Oregon? It would be devastating if these manufacturers were compelled to relocate to states such as Idaho that do not have a similar program.

Then there is the price at the pump. Emissions from the transportation sector account for approximately 40 percent of the state’s emissions. One economic study concluded that, under a cap-and-trade program, gasoline could increase immediately by an estimated 16 cents a gallon. This could disproportionately harm rural Oregonians, who often have to drive long distances for basic services such as health care.

Clearly, there are many unanswered questions about how this proposal will affect electric utility rates, our major industrial sectors, jobs and transportation costs in rural Oregon. What is known, however, is that this proposal has undeniable momentum and likely will pass the legislative assembly. Accordingly, we have no choice but to be at the table with the Oregon Legislature and Gov. Brown, forcefully making the case that Oregon cannot solve a global problem on the backs of rural Oregonians.

Ted Case
Executive Director
Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — January 2019

Jeff DavisLast month, Wasco Electric retired all of the 1988 and a portion of the 1989 capital margins back to members and former members.

The total capital credits returned to members who received service in 1988 and 1989 was $400,026. In addition to these general retirements, the co-op retired $90,324 to the estates of deceased members during the year, bringing the total capital credits returned to the members in 2018 to $490,350.

Capital credits are unique to cooperatives such as Wasco Electric. Private power companies make profits and pay dividends to stockholders. But cooperatives work on a nonprofit basis and allocate their operating income back to their members.

Capital credits represent your share of the cooperative’s operating income—the operating revenue that remains 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.

Next month, each member who received service last year will be mailed a statement of their 2018 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, but instead 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, or make payment of principle 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 the utility and the replacement schedule of our 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.

Jeff Davis
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – November 2018

79th Annual Meeting

Jeff DavisI would like to invite each member to attend this year’s annual meeting Saturday, November 17, at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, 402 W. Scenic Drive in The Dalles. The doors open for registration at 11 a.m. 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 absentee ballots for the director election—were mailed to each member November 1. The photos and resumes of this year’s candidates are on pages 4, 5 and 8 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 at the office by Friday, November 16.

Jeff Davis, General Manager

Fort Dalles Readiness Center

2018 Annual Meeting • Saturday, November 17
Fort Dalles Readiness Center, The Dalles

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – October 2018

Director Elections

Headshot of Jeff DavisThe Wasco Electric Cooperative nominating committee, consisting of members from each director district, met September 5 to nominate candidates for election at this year’s annual meeting.

This year’s candidates for election to three-year terms as director are:

District 1: Bob Hammel, incumbent; and Fritz Ellett.

District 2: Stacy Eakin and Justin Miller.

District 3: Mike Collins, incumbent; Pat Davis and Dennis Ross.

These candidates are up for election at the 79th Annual Meeting of Wasco Electric Cooperative on Saturday, November 17. I invite each of you to attend.

If you are unable to attend, absentee ballots and the annual meeting booklet will be mailed at the end of October. I encourage each member to vote on the leadership of your cooperative.

October is National Co-op Month

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

More than 29,000 co-ops operate in the U.S., with about 27 million members. 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 other co-ops, Wasco Electric operates under these 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.

Member 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, nationally, regionally and internationally.

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

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

Jeff Davis, General Manager

 

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – September 2018

2018 Annual Meeting

Headshot of Jeff DavisThe 79th Annual Meeting of Wasco Electric Cooperative Inc. is Saturday, November 17, at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center in The Dalles.

During the meeting, members will vote on three director positions—one from each of the three districts, which will be expiring.

At the August board meeting, the board of directors appointed the nominating committee to select candidates to run for the three board member positions up for election this year. The committee will meet in early September. If you are a member who is willing to serve on the board of directors, please let us know. We will pass your name on to the nominating committee members.

WECare Donations

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

With your September power bill, you will find a donation card in which you can support your friends and neighbors. Please see page 8 of this month’s issue for more information about 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 2018

Thank You!

Headshot of Jeff DavisWasco Electric Cooperative would like to thank the utilities, contractors and suppliers who helped assist during the July fire that affected our distribution system in both Wasco and Sherman counties.

Crews worked for several days throughout the Wrentham Market, Tygh Ridge and Fifteen Mile areas, where they had to replace several miles of distribution line to those members. Power was restored the evening of Saturday, July 20.

Repairs will be an ongoing process. Our operations department will continue to assess the damage and replace damaged poles, wires and meters as needed.

We greatly appreciate the patience and understanding of our members and community as we work safely and diligently to repair our system.

2018 Annual Meeting

Although November is several months away, preparations for Wasco Electric Cooperative’s 79th annual meeting are underway. The meeting is Saturday, November 17, at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, 402 E. Scenic Drive, The Dalles.

During the meeting, members will vote on three director positions that are expiring—one from each of the three districts.

At its August meeting, the board of directors will appoint the member committee that nominates candidates to run for those positions. This committee will meet in early September.

If you are a member willing to serve on the board of directors, please let us know. We will give your name to the nominating committee members for consideration. See page 8 of this issue for more information.

Current directors whose terms are expiring and will seek re-election this year are Bob Hammel, District 1, serving on the board since 2005; Gary Carlson, District 2, serving on the board since 2015; and Mike Collins, District 3, serving on the board since 2006 and current president.

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

Jeff Davis, General Manager

 

 

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – July 2018

Washington, D.C., Youth Tour

Headshot of Jeff DavisMore than 1,800 students from rural electric cooperatives visited Washington, D.C., last month. Among those high- schoolers were Riley Brewer and Hanna Ziegenhagen, who represented Wasco Electric Cooperative.

During this weeklong trip, students learned about the political process and the impact it has on their cooperative back home, visited the nation’s capital, talked with Oregon elected officials and visited countless museums, all while making lasting memories and friendships.

Each year, Wasco Electric offers this great opportunity for high school sophomores and juniors within our service territory to attend this all- expense-paid trip. Watch for details about the 2019 Youth Tour in the November issue of Ruralite.

Community Grants

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

This year, the cooperative’s grant committee awarded four grants totaling $7,500 to the following projects:

  • Maupin Area Chamber of Commerce for a bicycle repair station.
  • Sherman County Historical Museum to improve the museum’s foot bridge.
  • Sportsman’s Grass Car Lawn Mower Racing to establish electric service to the event area.
  • Mary’s Academy to install a filtered/cooling water station.

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

Jeff Davis, General Manager