Manager’s Message – March 2023

Update on the Oregon Legislature

Dear Co-op Members:

Debi WilsonWhile the early focus of the Oregon Legislative Assembly is addressing homelessness and the housing crisis, there has also been considerable activity on energy-related issues of interest to Oregon’s electric cooperatives.

Lane Electric Cooperative is actively engaged in the legislative session through our statewide organization—the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association (ORECA)—to ensure no proposal affects your rates or the reliability of your electric service.

For instance, the Association of Oregon Counties has advanced a proposal, SB 635, to collect fees on utilities’ work in the county rights-of-way. Another bill, SB 443, seeks to have utilities pay for generators for certain customers in the event of an outage of 8 hours or more. In both cases, Oregon’s electric cooperatives are working with lawmakers to mitigate the effects on your electric bill.

Not surprisingly, legislators are also expressing keen interest in the attacks on electric infrastructure across the country and here in the Northwest. Keeping the lights on is our priority, and ORECA has offered testimony about electric co-op efforts to protect our substations against sabotage and the importance of increasing penalties on those who perpetrate these attacks.

Finally, there is momentum in Salem for drafting a statewide energy plan to help Oregon chart a low-carbon future. We have some ideas on this, too. Instead of the state of Oregon’s misguided efforts to breach the lower Snake River dams, we believe any energy plan should embrace our incredible hydropower resources. These facilities are the best tools we have to keep rates affordable, lower our carbon emissions and prevent blackouts during extreme weather events, such as the ones Oregonians have experienced in the past several years.

We will keep you updated on any developments during this long legislative session.

Debi Wilson