Manager’s Message

Hi, I’m Debi Wilson, General Manager of Lane Electric Cooperative. Every month, I will report on some of the issues facing Lane Electric and share important news and updates with you, our members.

Sometimes, I may write about poles, lines and wires, our power supply, service interruptions, emergency preparedness, or rate changes. Other times, it might be about member meetings and community service. And sometimes, it’s simply to keep you informed about what goes on at Lane Electric, your cooperative.

Be sure to check out “Recent Stories from Ruralite” (to the left) for other information you might be interested in, too.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — October 2021

Governor Brown, Please Stop Damaging Litigation

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi Wilson Last November, Northwest utilities received news Oregon Gov. Kate Brown intended to sue the federal government over management of the Federal Columbia River System. At that time, I, along with other stakeholders, pleaded with the governor to come to the table and collaborate, as she previously agreed to do. On July 16, utilities were extremely disappointed to learn Gov. Brown’s administration filed a preliminary injunction with the U.S. District Court.

If approved by the court, the preliminary injunction would require spill across the lower Snake River dams and the main stem Columbia dams, which will significantly impact public power’s hydroelectric system. This would most likely supersede the flex spill arrangement previously negotiated with Oregon requiring spill 24/7 year-round.

Oregon’s motion for a preliminary injunction is misdirected in terms of recovering salmon. If the court orders anything remotely close to what Oregon demands, it will have extremely negative and dire consequences for everyone. First, spill will potentially cost more than $100 million a year. That equates to about a 5% increase in rates charged to us by the Bonneville Power Administration.

Second, spill will result in substantial increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Lane Electric receives clean, renewable energy from BPA. Ironically, the loss of available power would need to be offset by energy sources with higher carbon content. This undermines the governor’s long-term carbon reduction goals, which goes against the policy direction of Oregon and electric utilities.

Finally, and extremely concerning, spill of this magnitude increases the risk of blackouts.

All these impacts are well documented in the federal government’s environmental impact statement, along with mounting empirical and physical evidence. Furthermore, these impacts hit lower-income and underserved communities the hardest.

Along with several other utility stakeholders, I signed a letter to Governor Brown asking her to withdraw or end these proceedings. We do not agree you can simultaneously litigate and negotiate. Governor Brown needs to remain committed to the Columbia Basin Collaborative she agreed to and help end the never-ending litigation surrounding salmon issues. Oregonians, our neighboring states, and other stakeholders deserve a collaborative effort.

Sincerely,

Sincerely,
Debi Wilson

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — September 2021

Hot Days of Summer

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi WilsonLabor Day is Monday, September 6. While we typically relax with family and friends and have parties and backyard barbecues, the holiday’s history was not so relaxing.

The labor movement created recognition of our nation’s workforce in the 19th century. When signed into law by President Grover Cleveland, Labor Day became a federal holiday June 28, 1894. The holiday pays tribute to the achievements of all American workers and their contributions to the success of our great nation.

This year has been incredibly busy for Lane Electric employees. Crews are recovering from the Holiday Farm Fire from one year ago. I want to thank the Lane Electric workforce for its hard work and contribution to the success of your electric cooperative.

Lane Electric employees—and many of you—will be taking Labor Day off to celebrate this important holiday.

For any business owners out there, giving your workers a day off is a nice way to say thank you and acknowledge the hard work they put in every day. Of course, the entire American workforce cannot take the day off.

Whether you and your crews are still working, if your power goes out and our linemen must restore it, or if you need to just run to the grocery store for another bag of buns, let’s make sure to thank and honor workers’ dedication.

This Labor Day, let’s go the extra mile to make sure American workers know how vital they are to the community and the country as a whole.

Remember, Labor Day isn’t just another day off: It’s a deeply rooted historical holiday honoring American workers and everything they have done to make our lives what they are today.

Thank you to all the American workers out there working hard to build our structures, fix our problems and make our lives livable. Happy Labor Day!

Sincerely,
Debi Wilson

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — August 2021

Hot Days of Summer

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi WilsonI hope you are enjoying the beautiful days of summer. Whether you like to garden or spend time at a nearby lake or river, our community offers many outdoor activities during these summer months.

While summer brings joy to many, it also brings challenges, particularly this year. Summer weather started early in Oregon. While we enjoy these sunny days, there is also great concern across our state as we experience extreme drought conditions. There are worries about lakes drying up and high wildfire activity.

We want our members to be prepared as we continue to have warm, dry days in the upcoming weeks. Here are some things you can do around your home:

  • Clear needles, leaves, and other debris from roofs, gutters, porches, and decks.
  • Keep firewood piles at least 30 feet away from buildings.
  • Keep lawns mowed and hydrated. Dry grass and shrubs are easily ignited by wildfire.
  • Install metal mesh screening in attic and crawl space vents.
  • Remove all flammable outdoor items from decks and porches, such as cushions, doormats, and portable propane tanks.
  • Dispose of debris and lawn cuttings to reduce fuel for a wildfire.
  • Make a plan. Come up with two ways out if a wildfire threatens your area, and plan for pets and livestock.

There are more resources to help you prepare and learn to mitigate your risk. Visit the Firewise page and the National Fire Protection Association website.

What can you expect from Lane Electric? Crews will continue tree trimming and safety inspections and, if necessary, implementation of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).

A PSPS would occur in response to severe weather. Power to your area would be turned off to reduce the risk of wildfire and keep our community safe.

Discontinuing service is not taken lightly. Our goal would be to impact as few members as possible. We would make the decision to discontinue electric service based on a red-flag warning, extremely low humidity, high winds, or extremely dangerous conditions observed by a Lane Electric crew. We would notify members as soon as possible via phone, email, text, social media, and local media should this need to happen.

If you have questions, you can visit our Public Safety Power Shutoff page.

At Lane Electric we want to keep our members and communities safe. Please join us in making fire prevention a priority by following the rules and regulations meant to protect our state’s many treasures.

I hope you enjoy the last weeks of summer.

Sincerely,
Debi Wilson

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — July 2021

2021 Annual Meeting Update

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi WilsonIt is hard to believe it’s July and we are halfway through this unusual year. I am excited to see the progress we have made in our community toward reopening.

On May 24, Lane Electric held its annual meeting virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. Directors, staff, and members met via Zoom to get updates on the happenings at Lane Electric. Did you miss this year’s meeting? While it would be difficult to cover all aspects, I want to share some highlights and topics covered.

Financial Status

We are financially healthy, despite many obstacles: the 2019 snowstorm, the pandemic, the wind, and the wildfires.

Our Federal Emergency Management Agency grants of about $3.7 million were approved. This allows us to pay down debt incurred to repair snowstorm damage. A huge thank you to Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley for their continued support of FEMA grants.

So far this year, we are meeting our financial objectives!

McKenzie River Area Fire & Rebuilding

On September 7, 2020, the McKenzie River area was devastated by a wildfire. We were recently named in a lawsuit and are providing our full cooperation as the investigation continues.

The U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry are conducting the investigation, and a timeline has not been set for its completion.

We want to rebuild a system stronger than before. We are developing plans to submit to FEMA for grants that would allow us to put overhead lines underground. We hope we can coordinate with phone and internet providers to bury their facilities as well.

System Resilience & Reliability

While we work to underground more areas of our system, we are proud of our progress. Right now, 52.9% of our distribution system is underground. This is uncommon for a rural utility.

This year, our board of directors authorized $5.7 million to put overhead lines underground. The total cost without grant funding is $16.5 million. We are thankful for how much we can accomplish on a quicker timeline with these grants!

Safety

Safety is key. Employees reached another milestone: We have had two calendar years without a lost-time accident. This is a wonderful achievement, and I am very proud of our employees.

If we missed you at the annual meeting this year, we hope to see you next year! If you were able to attend our virtual meeting, thank you. I am proud of our employees for their service to our community and would like to thank our board of directors for providing the resources needed to provide the best service possible. Stay safe and have a wonderful summer!

Sincerely,
Debi Wilson

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — June 2021

Is Your Home Prepared?

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi Wilson

Last year, Oregon communities suffered devastating losses due to wildfires. Forecasters are predicting another dry summer and drought conditions throughout our state.

At Lane Electric, we have been reviewing our safety and wildfire protocols and want to encourage our members to also take steps to reduce their home’s wildfire risk. These fires will continue to happen, and we want our members to know there are things our communities can do to better protect our homes and neighborhoods. Is your home prepared for wildfires?

The National Fire Protection Association recommends choosing fire-resistant building materials and limiting flammable vegetation in the three home ignition zones. The three zones are immediate (0 to 5 feet around the house), intermediate (5 to 30 feet), and extended (30 to 100 feet). Their recommendation includes a list of things you can do around your home to make it safer from embers and radiant heat. The list includes:

  • Clean roof and gutters of dead leaves, debris, and pine needles.
  • Replace or repair loose or missing shingles or roof tiles.
  • Install 1/8-inch metal mesh screening on vents in the eaves.
  • Clean debris from exterior attic vents.
  • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and broken windows.
  • Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors: mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles anything that can burn.
  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches.

Many more resources are available to help you prepare. We encourage you to visit the National Fire Protection Association website or their Firewise USA Resources page to learn what you can do in all three zones to help mitigate your risk.

At Lane Electric, we will continue our tree-trimming programs and safety inspections to help mitigate risks. As weather conditions warrant, we will make changes to our system to help reduce risks, yet those changes could result in increased outages.

The extra time it takes to patrol the lines will increase the length of some outages. We know outages are frustrating, but we feel it is important for us to help keep our communities safe and green.

We hope you will join us in preparing and mitigating risks to our beautiful communities.

Sincerely,
Debi Wilson

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — May 2021

2021 Virtual Annual Meeting

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi Wilson

Mark your calendars! This month is Lane Electric’s annual meeting. We can’t wait to see you online. As our community continues to make progress in reducing our COVID-19 cases, unfortunately, we are unable to meet in person again this year for our annual meeting. While we can’t meet in person, we do have all the same important information and updates to share with our members. You can join us from the comfort of your home or office.

Soon, you will receive your official invitation and ballot in the mail. Your packet will include information on how to register for this year’s virtual meeting.

During the virtual meeting, members will have an opportunity to meet with the cooperative’s directors, hear important messages, and learn about co-op happenings from your board president, me, and our legal counsel. You will hear about the financial condition of the co-op and future plans.

This year’s format will be similar to the 2020 annual meeting. We will provide updates, reports, business information and close with a question-and-answer period.

This meeting with our members is important to me and the co-op. This is why, as your general manager, I want to personally invite you to this year’s virtual annual meeting. The meeting will be held on Zoom, Monday, May 24, at 4:30 pm.

If you were unable to attend our annual meeting last year, I encourage you to join us this year. As you receive your voting packet, please review the information, mark your calendar and come see us. Your participation and vote matter. We hope to see you on May 24.

Sincerely,
Debi Wilson

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — March 2021

LEC Board: Dedication to Service

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi Wilson

Every three years, Lane Electric members have an opportunity to vote for a board member to serve their district. These board members represent you and the unique needs of your district and community. Lane Electric has a seven-member board that serves our four diverse districts. They are dedicated to serving you and their community. If you look at their resumes, you will notice they serve beyond the board of Lane Electric.

Being a board member at Lane Electric requires monthly meetings, staying up to date on issues facing the industry, setting rates, and attending industry meetings. The time required to be a board member is more than the time given attending a monthly meeting. Yet, you will also see these dedicated people serving your communities through youth and senior citizen programs, food banks, school boards, as classroom volunteers, education foundations, Rotary, chambers of commerce, and many more. We are thankful to the current and past members who give so much of their time.

Some of our board members are dedicated to Lane Electric and our members beyond a single term.

I would like to take a moment to appreciate a former board member, Jim Hill, who served on the Lane Electric Board from 1974 to 2013, dedicating 39 years to the board of directors. Jim recently died at the age of 96. He served in every official capacity on the Lane Electric Board. Jim was often appointed to these positions by his colleagues because of his experience and wisdom. He was one of the first directors to complete the comprehensive education necessary to earn board certification credentials from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. In 2013, he was honored with a Life Membership Award from the Northwest Public Power Association. Jim was dedicated to serving Lane Electric and our members.

Just like our current board members, Jim was not only dedicated to his service at Lane Electric. He was a World War II veteran, serving in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946. He also was a lifelong resident of Oakridge, where he and his wife, Dorothy, raised their three children. He devoted time to his community as well, serving youth and senior citizen programs. Jim dedicated 39 years, making our employees and members his utmost priority.

It is people like Jim and all of our Lane Electric board members who help make our communities better. Their time and dedication to service is appreciated by many. I want to thank not only current and past board members, but also their families, who give of their time to serve our members. You are all appreciated!

Sincerely,
Debi Wilson

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — January 2021

Lane Electric Staff Works to Serve You

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi WilsonHappy New Year! As we prepare for a new year and new goals, there is one thing we remain committed to: serving you, our members. While our operations have looked different the past several months, we continue to focus on providing reliable electric service to your homes and businesses.

With our doors still closed to the public, we miss the face-to-face interactions with you, but it has not stopped our dedicated staff from serving you. Lane Electric staff are devoted to our members. They are ready to answer your phone calls and questions; provide assistance to your electric service needs; and provide routine maintenance and repair to electric lines.

In the midst of the adjustments to our new—hopefully temporary—normal, we continued to prepare for 2021. In the upcoming year, we have some planned projects, continuing projects, and hope to receive grants that offset costs and increase safety to our members.

Staff will continue to focus a significant amount of time on the repairs and rebuilding of the McKenzie River area after the summer wildfires. These fires were devastating to our community and to the electrical infrastructure that services the area. To mitigate disasters like this in the future, Lane Electric has applied and is awaiting approval for two Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grants for projects in Eugene and Veneta. These grants will help implement long-term hazard mitigation planning and reduce the vulnerability of communities to the effects of disasters.

Lastly, in 2021, we have planned four overhead-to-underground projects in Creswell, Eugene, Oakridge, and Cottage Grove. Moving these lines underground increases electric service reliability for our members, especially during inclement weather.

These planned projects are part of our continued effort to make the Lane Electric electrical system more resilient. Due to COVID-19, we will continue to have limitations, but we look forward to resuming normal operations sometime in the future. Someday soon, we hope to reopen the office doors to you and meet in person at a district meeting. We miss our members, and we wish you the very best in 2021!

Sincerely,
Debi Wilson

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — December 2020

Not the Year We Expected

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi Wilson

As we wrap up 2020, I reflected on this time last year. There was hope and excitement for a new year and decade. Each new year brings a feeling of opportunity and optimism, yet we all know 2020 has not been the year any of us expected!

Who knew on March 13—Friday the 13th to be exact—so many changes would happen in our communities? Life as we knew it began to look a lot different; offices closed, schools closed, community meetings and activities were canceled, and sadly our graduates celebrated in very different ways. While many of these things were difficult, there was still positivity around us.

This year, I witnessed the flexibility and dedication of our staff and our members. Staff had to make many adjustments throughout the year on where and how they worked. Work had to be completed from a distance, and many of our service processes had to be adapted to maintain social distancing. Members had to adjust by completing all communications electronically with our team; we are hopeful for the day we can meet again in the office for a payment or a quick hello. Serving our community is what makes us smile. Thank you to everyone for your understanding and flexibility these past several months.

This year, we also got to watch our community step up in creative ways and support one another. Zoom was used for meetings and celebrations. Our schools came up with creative ways to celebrate graduates. Then, during the devastating fires, we watched our community rally around those who had lost so much. I am also proud of the donations Lane Electric made to our five local food pantries during this time of need. We gave $1,250 to each pantry for a total of $6,250. Added to that, one of our lenders, CoBank, matched the donations, giving an additional $1,250 to each food bank. We are a community of givers, and even during difficult times, it is amazing to witness the hearts and perseverance of others.

In closing, it is with a heavy heart I share the passing of a beloved Lane Electric employee. On November 9, Dave D’Avanzo passed away. He retired from Lane Electric in 2018 after 16 years of dedicated service. Dave was kind, generous, and loved serving others. He will be greatly missed by our employees, members, industry associates, and our community. We will have a tribute to Dave in a future Ruralite magazine. Our hearts are with his family.

I wish you and your families health and happiness during this holiday season.

Sincerely,
Debi Wilson

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — November 2020

Reflection and Gratefulness

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi WilsonAs I reflected on this time last year, our world and community did not know the challenges and sorrow 2020 would bring. I am certain many of us are ready to see 2020 come to end and anticipate better days ahead in 2021. Yet, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, it is important to look at the things we have around us to be grateful for, even in challenging times.

COVID-19 and the Holiday Farm Fire have brought loss, sorrow, and many challenges to our day-to-day lives. During this time, I have witnessed many people step up to help. Members in our community got out thread, fabric, and sewing machines to make masks for those in need or on the front lines. Our community and surrounding communities provided food, clothing, and other supplies to help those affected by wildfires. These are only a few examples. To all those who helped, thank you!

Another group I am thankful for is our veterans and service members. Our country would not have the freedoms we do without your sacrifice. My first priority is to pause and thank each of our members who have given their time to serve and sacrifice for our country. We also appreciate the sacrifice of each family that has a loved one who has served, or is currently serving, in our armed forces. You also sacrifice in the absence of your loved one. Thank you to our servicemen and women!

As we sit down on Thanksgiving Day, many of us will pause and give thanks with loved ones. Our tables may look a little different this year. We may not all be together at one table. Some of us will gather at homes and others will gather to give their time to serve others. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to spend a day reflecting on what we are grateful for in an intentional way.

I know this has been a tough year for many. I feel great sorrow for those who have lost their homes or have significant cleanup ahead in the aftermath of the wildfires. We are thankful for the great people in the communities we serve, and we are diligently working to get power restored to all homes by Thanksgiving.

In closing, while you take the time to think about the things you are thankful for, I want to thank you. Thank you to our members who support public power. Thank you to those who have served. Thank you for allowing me to serve you. Enjoy the Thanksgiving season!

Sincerely,
Debi Wilson