Manager’s Message — August 2020

Debi WilsonVirtual Annual Meeting Follow-Up

Included in this edition of Ruralite are follow-up reports that were promised during our first-ever virtual annual meeting. I hope you take some time to look them over. They are helpful in understanding some of the behind-the-scenes efforts we undertake at the cooperative.

As indicated in those reports, safety and financial stability are important to all of us here at Lane Electric. We also value your ability to work and thrive in the communities we serve. That is why we usually hold district meetings each year throughout our service territory—a practice that is not typical for most other co-ops.

We heard from many of you that providing broadband internet was something you would like us to explore.

Last year, I told you Lane Electric was working with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative to conduct a broadband feasibility study. After an extensive study and assessing multiple paths to feasibility, the results of the study are now here. Unfortunately, the results were inconclusive, meaning it would only be feasible under what I would consider to be overly ambitious conditions.

The biggest factor identified in the feasibility study is the lack of poles on which to attach the fiber.

Lane Electric strives to improve the quality of rural life for our members. The resiliency improvements we have made converting our overhead power lines to underground means there are not enough poles on which to attach the fiber. About 53% of our power lines are underground and safe from severe weather.

I am proud of the progress we have made to protect our electric system. At the same time, I am disappointed at the outcome of the feasibility study.

Feasibility is essential to developing a financially sound business plan. This is what you have come to expect of Lane Electric, as do our lenders.

While there currently is no sustainable path forward, we will continue to explore opportunities to support expansion of broadband services in Lane County.

A bright spot is that this news comes as Lane Electric is developing a strategic plan that will guide our actions the next few years. This insightful experience helps us confidently navigate how best to serve and support our rural communities.

I look forward to sharing more on our strategic plans as things take shape, and am excited by the discussions we are having about the future of Lane Electric.

Debi Wilson
General Manager