Manager’s Message — June 2019 — District Meetings Recap: Underground, Broadband and BPA

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Mother Nature has certainly shown us what she’s made of this year. Snow, flooding and fire already? Because of this, a theme of last month’s district meetings was disaster preparedness. Lane County Emergency Manager Patence Winningham, a Lane Electric member, emphasized the importance of being prepared to be on your own when disaster strikes because there are many more citizens than first responders and it takes time for them to get to you.

Also at our district meetings, I reported on the snowstorm, our broadband feasibility study and Bonneville Power Administration rates. Here is a summary of my report. Details of the snowstorm and our restoration efforts were covered in great detail in our April issue, so I’ll leave those out.

While we did everything we could to get your power restored as quickly and safely as possible, we recognize that every minute you are without power is one minute too long. We improved our processes after the 2016 ice storm and are committed to improving them further after this year’s event. We are incorporating your feedback into planning and protocols for the next major outage.

As I traveled around the service area and saw all the damage, I began to wonder how often these disasters are happening. I discovered that since 2012, they’re happening about every two years and have been growing in intensity.

I’m sure the biggest question on everyone’s mind is why we don’t underground all of our lines. The short answer is that it is not feasible to underground our entire system due to cost and other factors. You can read more about those details in the District Meeting Recap of Reports.

If undergrounding all the lines isn’t feasible, what can we do? We can continue to:

  • Identify and budget projects that are feasible to underground.
  • Identify and budget other projects where we can relocate lines out of the trees to places where they’re more easily accessed for faster power restoration.
  • We will apply for FEMA mitigation grants as they become available so we can do more of these resiliency projects.

As you can imagine, completing these projects will take many years. In the meantime, it’s important that we all prepare for the next disaster, even an earthquake. Remember, you play an important role in disaster preparedness in your community. While you do your best to take care of yourself, your family and your neighbors, we are laser-focused on restoring your power.

To read the rest of my report, please view the District Meeting Recap of Reports. Our financial, legal and distribution system reports are also in the Recap, and wildfire safety tips are in the Wildfire Risk Reduction article.


Debi Wilson, General Manager