The State of the Cooperative, News from Wasco Electric Cooperative’s 78th Annual Meeting of the Members
With many members in attendance, Wasco Electric Cooperative held its annual meeting November 18.
By Traci Brock
Entertainer Ted Horwitz performed for the members during a lunch from Cowboy Catering, as neighbors new and old caught up with the happenings around their communities.
Members Len and Danee Rankin were thrilled to see Horwitz perform.
“I will tell you what, it is the best I have heard,” Danee said as she headed to request another song. “He has an extensive variety of music.”
As the business meeting began, nominated directors addressed the membership to explain why they wanted to run for the board and the experience they could bring. Candidates were Mathew Clausen, Stacy Eakin, Ron Holmes and DeOra Patton. The inspectors of election collected the remaining ballots and announced later in the meeting that incumbents Clausen, Holmes and Patton were elected to serve three-year terms.
Featured speaker Ted Case, executive director of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, spoke about his book “Poles, Wires and War,” a story of rural electrification and the Vietnam War.
Case also explained his relationship with Wasco Electric, and the work he does to keep the cooperative informed of legislation that could affect rates and reliability.
The cooperative encourages anyone who is interested in making their voice heard on legislative issues to join the effort at ORECA-Action.org.
Board President Holmes told the audience about the education requirements for the board, and the benefits it provides to the membership. The cooperative has three directors at the highest education level provided by the National Rural
Electric Cooperative Association.
“This is a great achievement,” said General Manager Jeff Davis.
Holmes also discussed the cost-of-service study. He explained the reason for placing rate equality throughout each rate class and the importance of recovering the cooperative’ fixed cost in the monthly delivery charge. He stressed that the board and management would continue to focus on keeping the system reliable.
Treasurer Clausen read the auditors’ report, stating the co-op has an unqualified financial audit for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017. This is a commendable reflection on the cooperative staff ’s efficiency in their custodianship of records.
Closing out the business meeting, Davis welcomed the membership and thanked them for attending the meeting. He shared the findings from the co-op’s recent survey, commenting on the continuing trend on the importance of reliability and dependability.
“Based on these survey results, it is clear what is important to the membership also aligns with the core mission of the co-op: providing dependable and reliable service, providing great customer service and working hard to maintain reasonable rates to our members,” he said.
Davis explained that maintaining and operating a system that spans 5,000 square miles across five counties with 1,700 miles of line in the air comes at a cost, which is recovered through power rates. Because the cooperative takes this seriously, during the past year staff has worked extensively with a rate-consulting firm to develop an in-depth rate model. It provides a baseline of revenue requirements for each rate, and factors in such things as labor and material costs, projected load growth, Bonneville Power Administration rate increases and other cost projections.
Earlier this year, after several discussions in the boardroom, the cooperative decided to move its rates to the true cost of service with an eight-year phase-in. This plan calls for smaller annual increases in the rates with an emphasis of transitioning the increase from the kWh charge to the delivery charge. The first year of the phase-in resulted in a 3.2 percent rate increase.
“Load growth will be the wild card,” Davis said. “If load continues to increase at a higher pace than modeled, we will adjust to reflect new growth, which may result in lower future increases.”
Davis also announced the board of directors approved paying capital credits to members and former members from 1987. Checks totaling more than $343,000 were mailed in early December.
As the meeting came to a close, the final prize drawing was held for a $500 Wasco Electric Cooperative gift certificate. The happy winner was first-time attendee Norma Keller. Kids’ winner Hannah Gorton won a $100 Fred Meyer gift card.