State of the Cooperative
Wasco Electric marks its 80th annual meeting
By Traci Brock
With many members in attendance, Wasco Electric Cooperative kicked off its 80th annual meeting November 23rd at Fort Dalles Readiness Center.
Musical duo Kerry Williams and Victor Johnson performed for the members during a catered lunch from Cobblestone Catering as neighbors caught up with the happenings around their communities.
As the annual meeting got underway, each nominated director candidate addressed the membership. They explained why they chose to run for the board and the experience they could bring or continue to bring. Those who spoke were Bob Durham, Jim McNamee, Steve Kaseberg, Jerry Duling and Pat Davis.
Standup comedian Rik Roberts lightened the mood with an engaging set that caught members’ attention. Throughout his set, Roberts—with a twist of laughter—walked the group through technology changes and how generations are quickly adapting to stay in touch.
“What a great funny break to the annual meeting,” said member Gerald Haeffelin. “He was great.”
Many members agreed, saying it was great to sit and laugh with neighbors.
Board President Mike Collins discussed the cost-of-service study that took place in 2017 and the plan for the cooperative to inform members on the rate structure in coming years.
“During the rates process, we want to remain transparent,” he said.
Collins also talked about achievements the cooperative made throughout the year, along with the strategic plan the board of directors and management worked on last September.
General Manager Jeff Davis touched on the four focal topics discussed last fall: providing a safe, reliable and adequate power supply; maintaining financial integrity; maintaining a safe and effective workforce; and maintaining a culture of service and bringing value to the members.
Within the business meeting, Treasurer Jerry Duling read the auditors’ report. The co-op has an unqualified financial audit for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019. According to the auditing firm, this efficiency is a commendable reflection on the cooperative staff ’s efficiency in their custodianship of records.
Closing out the business meeting, Davis thanked those in the room for attending their membership meeting. He discussed the reprieve from fires, which allowed the co-op to focus on maintenance and upgrades to its system. Some of the completed projects included replacing 100 distribution poles throughout the system, building 34 new services and relocating several lines from fire hazard areas.
Aside from the work the cooperative does throughout its service territory, there is another important role it is always engaged in: legislative activities at the state capital. Each year, bills are introduced that have potential impact on the co-op and its members. To help WEC remain engaged, it works with Ted Case, executive director of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Case attended the annual meeting. He discussed with members the evolving and extremely complex House Bill 2020. After explaining the complexity of the bill, Case told the membership, “We can expect to see another carbon bill, we just don’t know how complex.”
Davis announced the board of directors approved to pay capital credits in the amount of $500,000, which will pay all of 1989 and a portion of 1990 margins.
In addition to the general retirement, the cooperative made payments to estates of deceased members totaling $46,000, bringing the total monies paid to members and former members in 2019 to $546,000.
After counting the votes received during the meeting, the inspectors of election announced incumbents Bob Durham, Jim McNamee and Jerry Duling were re-elected to serve on the board for another three-year term.
The meeting ended with the highly anticipated grand prize drawing for a $500 Wasco Electric Cooperative gift certificate. The happy winners were Darrell and Darlien France. The kids’ grand prize winner, Linnea Roeder, won a $100 Fred Meyer gift card.