Manager’s Message – June 2024

Dear Co-op Members:

Wildfire season is approaching. While the overwhelming majority of wildfires are human-caused—nearly 90% between 2018 and 2022, according to Congressional Research Service—electric cooperatives recognize they have an important role to play in preventing wildfires.

All of Oregon’s electric cooperatives have board-approved wildfire mitigation plans in place, and we work diligently to implement those plans. Safety—especially when it concerns how we mitigate wildfires—has always been our priority. But it is undeniable that, for a variety of reasons, the threat of wildfire has exponentially increased.

Recently, Oregon co-ops, including Lane Electric, showcased their wildfire mitigation and communication strategies at the invitation of the Oregon Legislature, Oregon Department of Emergency Management, and the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association Engineering and Operations conference. Mitigation is a multipronged strategy, including burying power lines where possible, system hardening through more fire-resistant poles, aggressive vegetation management, and the use of cutting-edge technology, such as drones, to manage systems.

Just as we’re ready to respond to an emergency, we want our members to be prepared as well. That is why we work with members to remove trees, thus creating a more defensible space and supporting local fire and first-responder organizations.

While these are proactive measures, there are still many factors we cannot control. We cannot control where people throw cigarette butts and have campfires, or how public and private land near our systems are managed. We cannot control the weather or how long our fire season lasts.

In the coming weeks, we’ll share an update to our 2022 wildfire mitigation plan, which will go on file with the Oregon Public Utilities Commission.


Debi Wilson