Invested in the Community

Compiled by Pam Blair

Wood carving
An eagle takes shape during the McKenzie Chainsaw & Arts Festival, which Lane Electric Cooperative participates in each July. Photo courtesy of George Letchworth

For consumer-owned electric utilities, service means much more than delivering power to members. It is about the power of community connections.

Lane Electric Cooperative and its employees devote time in the areas they serve, building relationships and community partnerships. After all, the women and men who work there also live there.

Earlier this year, LEC hosted members who are veterans and their spouses at a lunch to thank them for their service. It is just one way the co-op expresses its gratitude to their friends and neighbors.

Other ways LEC contributes include:

  • Participating in the Oakridge Keg and Cask Festival, the McKenzie Chainsaw & Arts Festival, the Lowell Blackberry Jam Festival, the Veneta Light Parade, the Oakridge-Westfir Tree Planting Festival and other community parades.
  • Awarding $20,500 in scholarships, with one scholarship of $5,500 to lineman school, two of $4,500 to Lane Community College and four of $1,500 to the recipients’ college of choice.
  • Buying animals from 4-H and FFA youth. One of the cows LEC buys is made into hamburger and delivered in 1-pound packages to five food banks.
  • Contributing start-up money for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to local elementary schools.
  • Hanging community banners and LED snowflakes on streetlight poles in Oakridge every winter and taking them down in the spring.
  • Donating money for area grad night parties

Here are examples of how other area utilities make a difference in the communities they serve.

Blachly-Lane Electric Cooperative, Junction City, Oregon. BLEC supports local schools, libraries, youth sports, veterans’ groups, community centers, granges and food banks through its donations program.

Central Electric Cooperative, Redmond, Oregon. CEC and its employees support more than 50 organizations and causes, including childhood health and development, veterans’ outreach and food banks. The co-op donated poles and labor to help repair the Oregon Youth Challenge obstacle course.

Clatskanie PUD, Clatskanie, Oregon. Employees and board members donated $3,200 to local food banks.

Consumers Power, Philomath, Oregon. CPI donated to more than a dozen nonprofit organizations and presented electrical safety demonstrations.

Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative, Port Orford, Oregon. CCEC plans and hosts a one-day safety camp for first and second graders. The co-op collected 5,000 pounds of canned food.

Harney Electric Cooperative, Hines, Oregon. Employees volunteer to run fair gates and cook burgers at the Harney County Fair.

Lassen Municipal Utility District, Susanville, California. LMUD sponsors a spring home, garden and outdoor recreation show and Blue Star banners on Main Street saluting those serving in the military.

Parade Float
Lane Electric Cooperative decorated a bucket truck with lights and Santa, and pulled a gingerbread house flanked by power poles in last year’s Veneta Light Parade. Photo by Lane Electric Cooperative

Midstate Electric Cooperative, La Pine, Oregon. Nearly 100 students participated in MEC’s Career Days, learning about careers at the co-op.

Mt. Wheeler Power, Ely, Nevada. The co-op offers a workshop that helps low-income families complete state paperwork for one-time energy assistance.

Northern Lights Inc., Sagle, Idaho. Through its Operation Round-up program, NLI’s Community Trust funds local food banks, fire departments, schools and community-based organizations.

Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative, Baker City, Oregon. OTEC awards 32 scholarships a year and partners to deliver free books to local children through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Parkland Light & Water, Tacoma Co., Washington. Employees donate to a jacket and toy drive for children from families struggling to make ends meet.

Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, Portola, California. Employees buy, cook and serve at community dinners, and host food, toy and coat drives.

Raft River Electric Cooperative, Malta, Idaho. The co-op donated toward a new sound system for the high school auditorium.

Tillamook PUD, Tillamook, Oregon. The PUD awarded $75,000 in grants to nonprofits for economic development projects. Employees and their families assembled food and gift baskets for 18 families, and donated to schools to help those in need.

United Electric Cooperative, Heyburn, Idaho. UEC participated in the “Sleep in Heavenly Peace” program, setting up bed kits for kids who don’t have beds. Through the co-op’s annual Mitten Tree, members and employees bring in winter apparel to give to local children in need.