Dear Lane Electric Community:
When was the last time you invited your neighbors to dinner? If it’s been a while, here’s an idea: Next Spring you can invite your neighbors to join you at Lane Electric’s district dinner meeting in your area. It’s an easy way to visit! We’ll set the table. We’ll provide the good food. We’ll even provide some starter conversation about your co-op and all things energy-related. All you need to do is extend a neighborly invitation.
Lane Electric Co-op held five district meetings this year starting in Dorena, then in Lowell, Crow, and McKenzie Bridge, with the last in Oakridge. We approach these events as a neighborhood gathering—hence my invitation for you to do the same. A local caterer serves up delicious food. We have drawings for beautiful plants and handy gifts, as well as some electric bill credits! And of course, we offer brief reports on the Co-op’s finances and operations. For me, I enjoy visiting with both people I’ve come to know and people I meet for the first time. The stories and life experiences I gather are the gift of sharing time. So, invite your neighbors to next year’s district meeting and share some time—and dinner—with them and your co-op!
At this year’s district meetings, I shared the latest news on the Bonneville Power Administration’s likely increase of wholesale power and transmission costs. They’ll make their final decision in late July. As of now, we’re expecting a 6% to 9% increase driven by the need for financial reserves to protect BPA’s credit rating and a loss of wholesale power sales revenues from other buyers that usually helps buy-down our cost from BPA.
Another significant factor pushing the increase closer to 9% is the cost for Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s experiment to spill more water over the top of the Columbia River hydroelectric dams instead of running that water through the turbines to generate power. Without that water to produce electricity, BPA will need to buy replacement power, which will cause wholesale power rates to go up. The regional coalition that collaborates on Columbia River hydro operations rejected Oregon’s experiment, but Governor Brown’s attorney convinced a federal judge in Portland to ignore the regional consensus on what’s best for salmon and power.
After our first district meeting in Dorena, I received a copy of a letter to the BPA Administrator signed by two Congressional representatives from Washington and Oregon each —including our own Congressman Peter DeFazio—that said: “We are concerned that plaintiffs’ [Oregon and others] continued advocacy for additional spill or preventing needed maintenance of the dams (as requested in the injunctions) is not only unscientifically based, but is also likely to be counterproductive.” I offered copies of the letter to those in attendance and I invite you to go to page 25 in the June issue or Ruralite, to read the letter.
If you’re concerned about Governor Brown’s efforts to increase your electric bill, I encourage you to sign-up for our ORECA-Action grassroots group. On our website’s front page, it’s the big yellow “ORECA” image—click on it to go to the sign-up page. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be able to add your voice to our efforts to keep your electricity bill affordable.