Outage Map & Status

If you are without power, please call us at 541-484-1151.

Planned Power Outages

There are no planned outages at this time.

Current Large Scale Outage Information

There are no outages at this time.

Holiday Farm Fire Information

Please see our Holiday Farm Fire page for weekly updates on our progress up the McKenzie River.

Stay safe and please do not approach downed lines. Always assume that they are energized!

General Outage Information

On any given day, electric utilities experience small power outages across their service areas. For example, a tree in the line, a vehicle crash into a pole, or even a squirrel on a transformer can affect a single home or small pockets of members in a specific area. As such, when you look at our outage map, regardless of time of day, you might see outages appearing on the map and in the table to the right of the map, even if there are no “large-scale” outages. Our outage map displays real-time activities that are occurring, 24-7-365.

Lane Electric’s mission is to provide members with safe, reliable electric service – day and night. Despite our best efforts, severe weather and unusual circumstances can wreak havoc and cause a power outage that can last for hours or days. For more information, please review our Power Outage Tips.

Planned Power Outages

Every so often planned power outages are necessary because of needed repairs or upgrades to our system. These dramatically reduce the likelihood of unexpected outages in the future and help improve reliability. We know outages are very inconvenient and we try to minimize the number of them we have each year. We appreciate your understanding and patience with us.

Members in affected areas should receive a call about upcoming outages. We also plan to send a reminder call closer to the actual outage. Please call our office if you feel you need to update your contact information.

For all members using medical equipment requiring electrical power, you will need to make provisions for these power outages.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is BPA/Bonneville Power Administration?

Bonneville Power Administration, also referred to as BPA, provides the transmission lines to Lane Electric’s distribution lines. Lane Electric purchases wholesale power from BPA; they market wholesale electrical power from 31 federal hydroelectric projects in the Northwest, one non-federal nuclear plant and several small non-federal power plants. They operate and maintain about three-fourths of the high-voltage transmission in their service territory. BPA’s territory includes Idaho, Oregon, Washington, western Montana and small parts of eastern Montana, California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

2. Why is this outage necessary?

BPA operates and owns one of the nation’s largest high voltage systems. Created in 1937, major construction of their high voltage transmission system happened between 1940-1960. Fast forward a few years, this is an aging system that we depend on for reliable service. Without proper maintenance of their equipment, Lane Electric customers could experience unplanned outages with unknown durations. When BPA’s system is more reliable, ours is too!

3. Why during the night?

Lane Electric and BPA work together to try and find a time that is least disruptive. We know this is not necessarily convenient for everyone, as we are a diverse community, but we do our best to balance the impacts of a planned outage. Crews will be working during the night, hoping this is least disruptive to our members when most people are asleep.


Arm failure due to rot. image of power poles.

Pole Rotten

Pole Rot

rotten base of power bole

Worn Hardware


Latest Updates:

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

Big D Has Left the Building

The death of Dave D’Avanzo, a beloved friend, is felt by many – April 1955 to November 2020

Dave D’Avanzo was known for his collection of Hawaiian shirts.
Photos courtesy of Susan D’Avanzo

Dave D’Avanzo was a big, broad-shouldered man with a wide smile, an outgoing personality, and a grizzly bear paw handshake.

Dave’s characteristics were well-known in the Pacific Northwest electric cooperative and energy world, and even beyond. It was easy to remember Big D— not just because of his physical stature, but because of his caring and loving nature and his willingness to help and serve others.

As is written in his obituary, “He knew no stranger.”

Dave died November 9 at age 65 of health-related causes after a determined five-year battle to live to the next day and enjoy it with grace, humor, and strength.

Dave began his career in the electric cooperative industry in 1980. He served members at Umatilla Electric in Hermiston, Oregon; Claverack Rural Electric in Wysox, Pennsylvania; Midstate Electric in La Pine, Oregon; and, most recently, Lane Electric in Eugene. He retired in 2018.

Following are memories and stories from many of the people Dave met, befriended, worked with, joked with, and laughed with through the years.

Compiled by Craig Reed

Dave D’AvanzoI knew early on, even before we were married, that I would be sharing Dave with all who knew him. To know Dave was to love (and be loved by) him. His kind and caring heart was always big enough for us all. That’s just who he was.

Dave was an amazing husband, father, and friend whose daily routine included, but was not limited to, writing a “to-do” list on paper or the back of his hand, helping out wherever needed, and always taking time to call and check-in. His goal, above all else, was to serve and connect with each and every one of us.

I am forever grateful for my life with Dave. He taught me so much about how to live life to the very fullest and how to love unconditionally—gifts that our family will continue to share with others for years to come.

—Susan D’Avanzo, Dave’s Wife

Dave loved life.

He was a genuine person. What you see is what you get. He was always willing to help and always had time to talk.

Dave was very involved in the community. He worked closely with the 4-H kids, taking time to talk to each one at the annual livestock auction. He was part of and very involved in the local chambers of commerce. He always wore a smile and was ready with a joke.

The Elvis collection in his office was more of an homage made up of gifts people gave him because they knew he was a big fan.

Dave was one of a kind. He will be greatly missed.

—Debi Wilson, Lane Electric General Manager

I was blessed with the opportunity to visit with Dave in early November before we lost him. At the end of our visit, he asked me to help him up off the couch. As I was beginning to try, Susan asked him why he needed to get up and he replied, “So I can walk Todd to the door.” That’s really all you need to know about this incredible man. There will never be another like him.

—Todd Munsey, Douglas Electric Cooperative Member Services Manager

I cherish the memories and conversations that Dave and I had on our many road trips, traveling to meetings and conferences together. Whether it was a two-hour ride to Portland or a longer trip to Hermiston, there was never a silent or dull moment.

This lack of silence could be considered annoying, but never with Dave. His stories, jokes, and selfless camaraderie were second to none. He would listen and truly care about the good, bad, or ugly things that may be on your mind.

One of my favorites was a one-day trip from Eugene to Brookings and back, with a six-hour meeting included. We thought that we had solved all the world’s problems that day, but I guess it was not to be.

—John Murray, Lane Electric Energy Services Representative

Dave D’Avanzo was truly one of a kind. His heart was so huge that he loved every person he met. He had a way to make every person feel they were important and that they mattered.

Dave was so much more than a boss and a co-worker. He was my friend, my counselor, and my mentor. He had a way of making you want to be a better person and to treat people like Dave treated people.

I would like to think I am a better person because of him. I treasured my friendship with Dave and miss him every day.

—Brenda Everts, Lane Electric Executive Assistant

Dave was a rare good man. He was the best boss I ever had, and I told him so.

He was caring and understanding. He always checked in to make sure things were OK, and if they weren’t, he’d offer to do whatever he could to help.

Dave didn’t just hand out tasks, he offered to work on things together, and when doing so would share his knowledge, experience, and great stories. He knew the value of bringing a jovial spirit to the job; he was a master at it. He made people laugh.

One year he made beautiful spiral whirligigs out of small pieces of cedar that he had cut himself. He gave the whirligigs as Christmas gifts. I don’t know how many he made, but it must have been tedious work. I was lucky enough to receive one. It’s still flying to this day, over 10 years later. Every time I look at it, I think of the big, smiling, generous, and unwavering man that made it.

—Zechariah English, Lane Electric Energy Services Representative

I have never known another person with a presence like Dave. I can picture him sauntering into a room, eyes scanning for someone in need of one of his patented handshakes or hugs. Intimidating to meet and a lifelong friend from every moment forward.

Always giving. Always positive. And never afraid to try something new. He had so many talents and happily shared them with anyone with a need. Beloved and respected in the electric co-op community, Dave knew everyone and could get things done. You couldn’t say no to Dave. I’m so grateful to have worked with him for so many years and honored to be called his friend.

—Mike Teegarden, Pioneer Utility Resources Editor

When people recall Dave D’Avanzo (Big D), they immediately think of him as friendly, outgoing, and positive—a person that never met a stranger.

However, there is another quality he embodied that also stands out to me. On a number of occasions, people’s first visual impression of Big D was summarized in the statement, “I sure would not want to meet him in a dark alley.”

Of course, this was before they actually had the opportunity to meet him. In addition to Dave’s positive nature, he was a person of exceptional loyalty to all of his family, friends, and colleagues, of which there were many.

Without hesitation, you could count on Big D to always have your back, and leaving no man or woman behind. Thus, Dave was exactly the person you wanted with you in that dark alley. I miss him.

—Rick Crinklaw, Retired Lane Electric General Manager

When the name Dave D’Avanzo is mentioned, a person that cares comes to mind. He could make friends with anyone. That is why his time at LEC impacted so many people, especially the 4-H kids. Dave would talk and take pictures of the kids after LEC had purchased their animals. It made them feel like a person, not just a number.

Dave always gave 150% on any task he was given, no matter how large or how small.

He will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, my friend.

—Gary Foster, Retired Lane Electric Lineman

The first thing you noticed about Dave was his smile. The next was his big grip. Dave was a good family man, a good employee, and a good friend.

It didn’t take long to find out that he liked Elvis, as his office was a gallery of Elvis mementos.

Dave was a people person, so he was a perfect fit to be the face of the co-op. He had the ability to help members work through problems by his outgoing and caring personality.

He will be missed by all of us who knew him.

—Ed Bangle, Former Lane Electric Board Member

Dave was a master of many things.

I worked with Dave on the Lane Electric Scholarship Committee, but I also saw him involved in many activities around the Oakridge/Westfir area. I can’t tell you how many times he would listen to presentations by our community organizations. When the presentations were over, he would lean over to me and say, “I could probably find some funding for that.”

He always came through. He was a citizen of all the communities in the cooperative. He was always happy to see everyone. I will certainly miss his presence, his humor, and his compassion.

But now maybe he is up in heaven having a sing-off with Elvis. “Dave has left the building.”

—Judy Hampton, Oakridge

Co-op guys, we met in 1984, visiting several manufactured housing plants in Hermiston with Dave as guide. His enduring quality of hospitality and willingness to go out of his way to help was evident.

There didn’t seem to be anyone Dave didn’t know. Everywhere we went was old- home week!

Dave was gregarious, yet always a straight shooter. He always had a project, yet always had time for people.

Physically and mentally tough, Dave had the heart of a lion, loved his work, and loved Elvis—but loved his wife and family above all.

My brother, my brother— welcome home.

—Jim Su’euga, Retired Co-Op Lifer

Dave came to midstate electric in 1991 and left in 1999. I am grateful for both his mentorship and friendship.

As a mentor, Dave groomed me—and recommended me— for his position upon leaving. A friendship with Dave was forever. We laughed a lot. Dave loved telling jokes.

A fond memory is listening to Roy D. Mercer tapes while carpooling. Mercer, created by disc jockeys, had a Southern drawl and made prank calls demanding money for an incident, often asking “How Big ‘a Boy Are Ya?” and threatening the recipient with an “ass-whuppin.” Makes me smile to remember Dave’s laughter.

—Teresa Lackey, Midstate Electric Marketing and Communications Manager

If you had met Dave D’Avanzo, you immediately would have recognized his friendly nature, his outgoing personality, his positive attitude and, of course, his larger than life persona—and there was his handshake, something you’d never forget.

Dave was a kind and patriotic friend who lived the cooperative way: Support the communities you serve.

I’d like to share a story about Dave. He and I, and another co-op employee, were in Oregon City … Nope, better not share that one.

Here’s one. We were in Fort Worth, Texas, at a national conference, maybe 30 years ago. The temperature hadn’t been below triple digits for weeks. That led to over-consumption of ice-cold beverages. Dave had a big presentation first thing in the morning, and we all felt the effects from the night before. As a group, we “supported” Dave by sitting in the front row of the audience of hundreds of attendees. He couldn’t look at us for fear of being distracted by our juvenile antics. He pulled it off like the pro he always was.

He was kind enough to let us take a break in his suite while he attended another presentation. We took the opportunity to rearrange all his furniture and helped ourselves to all the costly treats and beverages in his mini-bar. He told us his room was fine when he returned to it. Years later, we laughed about it when he finally admitted his surprise when he entered his suite. I never heard if he personally had to pay for everything we consumed. It would have been an expense report hard to justify to his boss.

I’ll never say that we lost Dave. I know exactly where he is. I miss my friend immensely, but I smile every time I think of him.

—Terry Kelly, Retired Salem Electric General Manager

It was back about 1978 when I first met Dave. It was at a BPA energy conservation seminar. My first thought was, “Man, that guy is built like a Sherman tank.”

Dave may have been big, but he had a heart of gold and would do anything for his friends.

Dave worked for Umatilla Electric Cooperative back then, later working for Midstate Co-op, Claverack, and, finally, Lane Electric. He had the cooperative spirit, always putting the member/owners first. It was a pleasure having Dave as a friend and working with him on different cooperative programs and tasks. One thing that many of his friends will remember is the firm handshake that some of us still have indentations from.

—Joe Mcfadden, Retired Blachly-Lane Electric Employee

Big D is truly a larger than life person.

After meeting in January 1986, we became fast friends, and nobody could ask for a better friend than Dave.

Big D was always willing to give advice, assistance, or a listening ear when needed. We had many long talks over the years and some great times. One favorite was making a music video together in Orlando. It showed his fun, musical side and true friendship to join me.

Another was listening to bands after PNGC meetings in Portland. We got Dave to go onstage with the band OoLaLa and sing an Elvis Presley song, his personal favorite.

Dave was a big hit, and I can hear Big D say to all of us today, “Thank you, thank you very much!”

And with that, Big D has left the building!

—Marc Farmer, Clatskanie People’s Utility District General Manager

Dave D’Avanzo was a longtime communications partner with Pioneer Utility Resources, the publisher of Ruralite magazine. To honor Dave’s work and friendship, we are naming our communicator of the year award after him. We are privileged to keep his legacy alive.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — January 2021

Lane Electric Staff Works to Serve You

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi WilsonHappy New Year! As we prepare for a new year and new goals, there is one thing we remain committed to: serving you, our members. While our operations have looked different the past several months, we continue to focus on providing reliable electric service to your homes and businesses.

With our doors still closed to the public, we miss the face-to-face interactions with you, but it has not stopped our dedicated staff from serving you. Lane Electric staff are devoted to our members. They are ready to answer your phone calls and questions; provide assistance to your electric service needs; and provide routine maintenance and repair to electric lines.

In the midst of the adjustments to our new—hopefully temporary—normal, we continued to prepare for 2021. In the upcoming year, we have some planned projects, continuing projects, and hope to receive grants that offset costs and increase safety to our members.

Staff will continue to focus a significant amount of time on the repairs and rebuilding of the McKenzie River area after the summer wildfires. These fires were devastating to our community and to the electrical infrastructure that services the area. To mitigate disasters like this in the future, Lane Electric has applied and is awaiting approval for two Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grants for projects in Eugene and Veneta. These grants will help implement long-term hazard mitigation planning and reduce the vulnerability of communities to the effects of disasters.

Lastly, in 2021, we have planned four overhead-to-underground projects in Creswell, Eugene, Oakridge, and Cottage Grove. Moving these lines underground increases electric service reliability for our members, especially during inclement weather.

These planned projects are part of our continued effort to make the Lane Electric electrical system more resilient. Due to COVID-19, we will continue to have limitations, but we look forward to resuming normal operations sometime in the future. Someday soon, we hope to reopen the office doors to you and meet in person at a district meeting. We miss our members, and we wish you the very best in 2021!

Debi Wilson

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

Thank You!

Restoring power to our community is truly a community effort and we are beyond thankful to our amazing partners for their help to expedite the rebuilding process. Without each of you, we wouldn’t have been able to restore power to our members as quickly and help start to get our community back on its feet. Our work is far from over and we appreciate the community’s support as we work towards full power restoration. From all of us at Lane Electric, thank you, and happy holidays!

Logos for: Peterson CAT, Lane County Oregon, Professional Underground Services Inc, EWEB, Bonneville Power Administration, Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative Inc, Emerald People's Utility District, Oregon Department of Transportation, Stella-Jones, Westates Flagging, and Douglas Electric Cooperative.

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

Toys for Tots

By Craig Reed

little girl holding present by Christmas tree
Adobe Stock Photo by Anastasiya

10,392 — That’s the number of Lane County children who received toys from the Marine Toys for Tots program in 2019.

Scott Boylan is an active-duty Marine stationed in Springfield and coordinator of the toy program. He expects that number to jump for the 2020 Christmas season because of lost jobs, homes, and properties due to the COVID- 19 pandemic and the recent Holiday Farm Fire.

The goal of Marine Toys for Tots is to help bring the joy of Christmas and send a message of hope to America’s less fortunate children through the gift of a new toy.

The program has scheduled distribution dates and times in December for Eugene- Springfield, Cottage Grove, Florence, and Oakridge.

Another program, Sharing Among Neighbors Toy Appeal (S.A.N.T.A.), will distribute toys this month to communities in western Lane County.

“We’re a good program for the county,” says Leo Robb, a member of the Toys for Tots boards for both Lane County and Oakridge. “It helps everybody. There is definitely a need. There are a lot of single-parent families and low-income families who need some support and hope at Christmas.”

In past years, people could come into Toys for Tots distribution centers and shop off the shelves for their children. Because of the pandemic, this year will be a drive-thru experience. The toys will be categorized by age and by boy or girl, and will be distributed per request by volunteers to each car.

“We’re trying to cut down on the people coming in,” Leo says. “It’s going to be a new process. We’ll make it work.”

The gift or gifts total about $30 per child. If the exact toy on a parent’s wish list isn’t available, the closest similar item is given. Parents can then take home, wrap and put the gifts under their tree, making it a traditional Christmas for children.

Volunteers from Oakridge and Springfield gather at the Mrs. Santa in Jail fundraiser for the Toys for Tots program. Mike Cameron, right, and Leo Robb, second from right, are members of the Oakridge board for Toys for Tots. The event was held in the parking lot of Ray’s Food Market in Oakridge.

“It’s not a guarantee that we can fulfill every wish list because we’re not always sure what we’ll have and what kids want, but we’ll do our best to match it,” Scott says. “It’s best that a family gets some Christmas rather than none at all.”

The 22-year Marine who has been involved in the toy program for the past 10 years says the effort is well worth it.

“To see the smiles, the joy, and the gratitude in the parents makes it all worthwhile,” Scott says.

The Toys for Tots program was started by a Marine family in 1947. Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks was asked by his wife, Diane, to deliver some dolls she made to an agency that supported children in need. When Bill reported back that he couldn’t find such an organization, the couple started Toys for Tots. That Christmas, Bill, and the Marines in his reserve unit in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys.

The success led to a directive that all Marine reserve sites implement a Toys for Tots program, creating a national community project beginning in 1948.

Leo, a retired U.S. Forest Service engineer who worked out of the Middle Fork Willamette Ranger District in Westfir, says the Toys for Tots program in Oakridge started in the early 1980s. At the time, used toys were collected and refurbished before being distributed. In 1991, the Oakridge program partnered with the Marines program, and the focus transitioned to new toys.

Program coordinators anticipate the need this year will be greater but donations fewer because of the pandemic, the economic situation for many individuals and businesses, and the recent rash of wildfires.

Coordinators still hoped for the best as they put out collection boxes in October, held annual events such as Stuff the Bus and toy drives at different stores, and sent out written requests for donations.

While the Toys for Tots program only distributes toys, any food or clothing collected during these events are passed on to other nonprofit organizations that distribute those items. Any leftover toys are given to other nonprofits to distribute before Christmas Day.

The Sharing Among Neighbors Toy Appeal program has toys for children in the Fern Ridge area of western Lane County for the past 27 years. In 2019, S.A.N.T.A. provided Christmas gifts to about 500 children in 175 families. Each child received a gift or two, a book, a stuffed animal, a stocking stuffer, and a winter coat.

Toys for Tots

Distribution sites and times:

  • December 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue, 2625 U.S. Hwy. 101, Florence
  • December 12, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Willamette National Forest Building Complex, 3106 Pierce Parkway, Springfield
  • December 12, 4 to 6 p.m. Oakridge Fire Dept., 47592 OR Hwy. 58, Oakridge
  • December 13, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Willamette National Forest Building Complex, 3106 Pierce Parkway, Springfield
  • December 13, noon to 4 p.m. South Lane County Fire & Rescue, Cottage Grove Station, 233 Harrison Street, Cottage Grove

Sharing Among Neighbors Toy Appeal

Distribution site and time:

  • December 12, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Veneta Elementary School 88131 Territorial Hwy., Veneta
Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — December 2020

Not the Year We Expected

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi Wilson

As we wrap up 2020, I reflected on this time last year. There was hope and excitement for a new year and decade. Each new year brings a feeling of opportunity and optimism, yet we all know 2020 has not been the year any of us expected!

Who knew on March 13—Friday the 13th to be exact—so many changes would happen in our communities? Life as we knew it began to look a lot different; offices closed, schools closed, community meetings and activities were canceled, and sadly our graduates celebrated in very different ways. While many of these things were difficult, there was still positivity around us.

This year, I witnessed the flexibility and dedication of our staff and our members. Staff had to make many adjustments throughout the year on where and how they worked. Work had to be completed from a distance, and many of our service processes had to be adapted to maintain social distancing. Members had to adjust by completing all communications electronically with our team; we are hopeful for the day we can meet again in the office for a payment or a quick hello. Serving our community is what makes us smile. Thank you to everyone for your understanding and flexibility these past several months.

This year, we also got to watch our community step up in creative ways and support one another. Zoom was used for meetings and celebrations. Our schools came up with creative ways to celebrate graduates. Then, during the devastating fires, we watched our community rally around those who had lost so much. I am also proud of the donations Lane Electric made to our five local food pantries during this time of need. We gave $1,250 to each pantry for a total of $6,250. Added to that, one of our lenders, CoBank, matched the donations, giving an additional $1,250 to each food bank. We are a community of givers, and even during difficult times, it is amazing to witness the hearts and perseverance of others.

In closing, it is with a heavy heart I share the passing of a beloved Lane Electric employee. On November 9, Dave D’Avanzo passed away. He retired from Lane Electric in 2018 after 16 years of dedicated service. Dave was kind, generous, and loved serving others. He will be greatly missed by our employees, members, industry associates, and our community. We will have a tribute to Dave in a future Ruralite magazine. Our hearts are with his family.

I wish you and your families health and happiness during this holiday season.

Debi Wilson


Application for Board of Directors – Oakridge District

Application for Board of Directors (Oakridge District)

A vacancy exists on Lane Electric Cooperative’s board of directors for a position representing the utility’s Oakridge District. The vacancy results from an early retirement of the incumbent director in the position. Lane Electric’s board of directors will appoint a member to serve the remaining portion of the term of office for the departed director.

The board of directors is currently accepting applications from members interested in being appointed to the position. The member appointed to the position will be eligible to seek election to a full three- year term when the current term of office expires after Lane Electric’s 2021 Annual Meeting.

Members interested in being appointed to the position should have an interest in their community and feel a civic responsibility to their neighbors. Directors have the same basic duties as other public and private corporations. Primary duties will include setting policy, approving budgets, contractual considerations, and monitoring the operations of the Cooperative . Applicants must reside in the Oakridge District

How to Apply
Read Pol100-Director DutiesStandards 7-2020 ADOPTED
Read 2019-Bylaws-Amended-5-28-2019
Download and complete the Fillable Appointment POSITION FILING Packet

Filing packets must be signed and delivered to Lane Electric’s office no later than:
1 p.m. on December 10, 2020

787 Bailey Hill Road
Eugene, OR 97402


Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — November 2020

Reflection and Gratefulness

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi WilsonAs I reflected on this time last year, our world and community did not know the challenges and sorrow 2020 would bring. I am certain many of us are ready to see 2020 come to end and anticipate better days ahead in 2021. Yet, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, it is important to look at the things we have around us to be grateful for, even in challenging times.

COVID-19 and the Holiday Farm Fire have brought loss, sorrow, and many challenges to our day-to-day lives. During this time, I have witnessed many people step up to help. Members in our community got out thread, fabric, and sewing machines to make masks for those in need or on the front lines. Our community and surrounding communities provided food, clothing, and other supplies to help those affected by wildfires. These are only a few examples. To all those who helped, thank you!

Another group I am thankful for is our veterans and service members. Our country would not have the freedoms we do without your sacrifice. My first priority is to pause and thank each of our members who have given their time to serve and sacrifice for our country. We also appreciate the sacrifice of each family that has a loved one who has served, or is currently serving, in our armed forces. You also sacrifice in the absence of your loved one. Thank you to our servicemen and women!

As we sit down on Thanksgiving Day, many of us will pause and give thanks with loved ones. Our tables may look a little different this year. We may not all be together at one table. Some of us will gather at homes and others will gather to give their time to serve others. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to spend a day reflecting on what we are grateful for in an intentional way.

I know this has been a tough year for many. I feel great sorrow for those who have lost their homes or have significant cleanup ahead in the aftermath of the wildfires. We are thankful for the great people in the communities we serve, and we are diligently working to get power restored to all homes by Thanksgiving.

In closing, while you take the time to think about the things you are thankful for, I want to thank you. Thank you to our members who support public power. Thank you to those who have served. Thank you for allowing me to serve you. Enjoy the Thanksgiving season!

Debi Wilson

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

Food Pantries Critical to Area Families

Five sites offer help feeding those in need

By Craig Reed

Many people suffer a shortage of a key necessity to life: food.

The reasons might be a disability, old age, homelessness, no job or a low-paying job, mental health issues, multiple family members under the same roof, or something else.

To address this community shortage, food pantries were established, some as many as 40 years ago. A few of the pantries have a paid manager, but most are organized and operated by groups of dedicated volunteers.

Five food pantries serve the Lane Electric Cooperative service area. All receive most of their food from Food for Lane County, the regional distributor of food from the Oregon Food Bank.

Depending on the location, pantries also receive food from grocery stores such as Walmart, Safeway, Grocery Outlet, and Ray’s. Other food sources include local farmers and backyard gardeners who donate surplus produce, and food drives by various groups and the pantry itself. Financial donations from individuals and businesses and grants bring in money to buy additional food.

Following is a summary of each of the five area pantries.

Cottage Grove Food Pantry

Volunteers at the Cottage Grove Food Pantry support 2,000 families annually.

Part of the Community Sharing Program, this pantry that provides basic needs such as food, housing, and energy assistance. The bulk of the services is food.

Mike Fleck, the program’s executive director for the past 10 years, says the food pantry annually provides for an average of 2,000 families, totaling about 5,000 individuals. Under normal circumstances, the pantry provides a shopping-style experience, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, boxes are filled with food items and given to those in need.

About 70 volunteers sort incoming food, stock shelves, or fill boxes. They average more than 10,000 hours of work a year.

Distribution times are Mondays, 1:30 to 6 p.m., and Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“We serve folks from all across the spectrum,” Mike says. “They are welcomed to come in anytime we’re open. Anybody who needs help, please come in. We have lots of food.”

Information: (541) 942-2176

Lowell Food Pantry

Ron and Joan Ballenger of the Lowell Pantry fill a food box.

Greg Rundo, a college student doing a report on feeding the hungry, started this pantry in 2001. He figured the best way to study the hunger issue was to be involved.

The Lowell area didn’t have a pantry at the time, so Greg organized one. After he completed his report, he left the pantry, but it was well-established enough that volunteers kept it going.

Shawn Brady has been manager for 19 years. Fourteen volunteers help with the pantry’s operation, which is based out of Lowell Christian Church.

Pantry days are the first and third Tuesdays of each month. Bread is available on the second and fourth Tuesdays.

The pantry provides food for 40 to 45 families on pantry days and five to 15 families on bread days. Emergency food boxes can be requested on non-pantry days.

Pantry volunteers also put together food boxes for Christmas, and boxes for Thanksgiving are available when requested in advance.

“We do this to help our community,” Shawn says.

Information: (541) 912-1538

McKenzie River Food Pantry

Sister John Backenstos moved to the McKenzie River area and started this food pantry in 1981. Eight families benefited the first year.

Since then, as the area’s population has slowly grown, so has the number of families served. Sue O’Brien, pantry manager for the past 15 years, says 60 to 80 families come for food on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. At Christmas, the pantry provides for 135 to 150 families, Sue says.

“This pantry is essential to the Blue River, Upper McKenzie area because there is a food desert in this area,” Sue says. “It’s 37 miles to the nearest grocery store and 42 miles to the nearest reasonably priced grocery store. If we weren’t open on a regular basis, many of our people up here would be very short on food or starving.”

Sue says almost all 175 students in the McKenzie School District are on free or reduced lunch.

“That says many children in the area are poverty-stricken,” she says. “This pantry is extremely important to the area.”

The pantry gives out enough food each time for three meals a day for three days per person. Information is also provided to teach people how to make more efficient use of the food they receive.

The pantry, which operates out of McKenzie High School, shut down for several weeks during the Holiday Farm Fire when Sue and many other volunteers had to evacuate. As soon as the volunteers were able to return, the pantry reopened. About 15 volunteers help each month.

At Christmastime, the pantry also collects toys and distributes those with food to families with children.

Information: (541) 570-5426

Love Project

Volunteer Susan Regnerus of the Love Project works in the food pantry.

Based in Veneta, this food pantry operates within the Mid Lane Cares program. It serves the 475 square miles within the Fern Ridge School District, which includes the communities of Veneta, Crow, Noti, Elmira, and Lorane.

“We, as the food pantry, are here to serve people of the communities,” says Pat Coy, chair of the Mid Lane Cares board, which oversees Love Project. “We work very hard as volunteers to provide for the food insecurities of people in our service area. We try to be as generous as we can, to help as many as we possibly can. We’re here to feed people. We take that responsibility very seriously.”

The pantry at the Fern Ridge Service Center is open 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; and 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pantry offered a shopping experience, but for the last several months a drive-thru system with food boxes has been employed.

Pat estimates the pantry has served 800 to 1,000 people in recent months.

Fifteen to 20 volunteers work at the pantry each month, contributing 500 to 600 hours a month.

“We’re here to feed people and to help people,” Pat says. “We live in small communities, but we try to have a big heart in serving as many people as we possibly can.”

Information: (541) 935-4555 or online at the Midlane Cares website.

Upper Willamette Community Food Box

At least 60 families a week receive food from this pantry, says Food Box Manager Alissa Gomez.

The pantry at the Willamette Activities Center in Oakridge is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Boxes and bags of food are distributed.

Eight volunteers work on Mondays when food arrives at the center and six volunteers work each of the three distribution days.

“I do this because I enjoy helping people,” Alissa says. “It brings a smile to my face knowing we’re helping those in need. I’m glad we’re here to help those people.”

Information: (541) 782-2192

Three locations in the Lane Electric service area serve senior meals: the Nazarene Church in Oakridge; Fern Ridge Service Center in Veneta; and Riverview Terrace in Cottage Grove. The operations and schedules have been altered by COVID-19.

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

Make the Most of Your Perishable Foods

Keep food longer and make snacks fun by freeze-drying

By Robin Howard

Freeze dried berries and applesPreserving food has deep roots in the South. In a geography hit hard by war, political upheaval, and the Great Depression, survival often meant preserving whatever food you could grow.

With the era of victory gardens behind us, many of us became used to going to the grocery store for inexpensive canned, boxed, or frozen food.

That is until The Great Recession gave us a wake-up call.

During the recession, food became more expensive, and money didn’t go as far. For some families, preserving food seemed like a good idea again. Many of the folks who dug out their grannies’ old canning rigs to save money on food found they enjoyed the other benefits of preserving food, including reducing food waste, controlling allergens, and eliminating preservatives and chemicals.

While adventurous home chefs have revived canning, others have experimented with a more modern method of preserving food: freeze-drying.

Freeze dried berriesIf freeze-drying conjures up nostalgic images of space food, I must break the news: It’s not a new process.

The Incas freeze-dried crops as early as the 15th century. They would freeze corn and potatoes by placing them in high crevices in the cold mountains above Machu Picchu. After the crops froze solid, water vapor trapped inside slowly evaporated due to the high altitude. The result was freeze-dried corn and potatoes that would last until the next harvest.

With the industrial revolution came the first freeze-drying machine. Created to preserve scientific specimens, the device was later used to preserve blood for transport during World War II.

In 1968, freeze-drying entered the common lexicon when Apollo astronauts made the wise decision not to leave Earth without dessert. As a culture, we became fascinated with astronaut ice cream. How did they do it? How does it taste? How long would it keep? With the invention of the home freeze dryer, we now have some answers.

How Freeze-Drying Works

Industrial strength freeze dryers such as the ones NASA used to create arid blocks of Blue Bunny are about 20 feet long and 9 feet high. You probably wouldn’t want one in your pantry. However, today’s home freeze dryers are about the size of a microwave.

Inside a thick Plexiglas door are small metal trays on which you place thin slices of food. The temperature inside the machine lowers to -40 degrees F, freezing food rapidly. The appliance’s powerful vacuum then removes water vapor as it gradually warms, leaving food that has all of its original flavor and nutritional value, but is dry enough to crush into a powder.

Most freeze-dried food, such as ice cream, is fun to eat as it is. Freeze-drying makes everything crunchy and intensely flavored. However, you can rehydrate food by spritzing it or soaking it in warm water until it returns to its original consistency.

If appropriately stored in tight containers or vacuum-sealed bags, freeze-dried food can last up to 25 years with no temperature control.

Foods That Freeze Dry

While canning food has limited applications, almost any food can be freeze-dried. All fruits, vegetables, and meats can be freeze-dried, as can eggs, pasta, casseroles, and some desserts, including ice cream and marshmallows.

There are even stories of people rescuing wet smartphones and waterlogged books by running them through a freeze dryer.

The only foods that don’t do well in a freeze-dryer are foods with high sugar content, such as honey; and high-fat content, such as butter.

Is It Worth the Expense?

Portable freeze dryers cost between $2,000 and $3,000. Each 24-hour freeze-drying cycle requires about 1,200 watts of energy an hour, at a cost of about $3 a day. These mini machines can freeze dry about 4 pounds of fresh food in a batch, or about 900 pounds of food a year if run continuously.

There are maintenance issues to consider as well. Most home freeze dryers have an external vacuum pump that requires an oil change after every cycle. Changing the oil isn’t hard—and it can be filtered and re-used—but it does add to the expense.

If you’re only going to use your freeze dryer a few times a year, the cost won’t make sense. If you’re dedicated to building a cache of meals for emergencies, road trips, or everyday use, it could pay for itself relatively quickly.

If saving money is your primary motivation, the key to making a home freeze dryer payoff is organization: Plant a well-planned garden, take advantage of bulk sales, and batch cooking so there are leftovers.

Depending on your situation, there are plenty of other ways a home freeze dryer might make life easier. For example, if you own an RV, packing freeze-dried meals for road trips can quickly save you enough to justify the appliance.

Food allergies are a common reason for the growing popularity of freeze dryers. Food allergies affect 13 million Americans, or one in 12 children. If you or someone in your family has to carefully avoid certain ingredients, packing freeze-dried meals to rehydrate at home, school, or while traveling can be a lifesaver.

Pet owners also are jumping on the freeze-drying bandwagon. With the rash of pet food recalls in the past several years, more people are making pet food at home. Home freeze dryers allow pet parents to control the ingredients in their dog or cat’s food and treats, eliminating allergens and avoiding unsafe ingredients.

In the end, freeze-drying may not be any less labor-intensive or money-saving than other methods of food preservation. However, practical benefits may be a significant advantage for some people.

After all, how can you put a price on the ability to make your own astronaut ice cream?

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — October 2020

Beacon of Light

Dear Co-op Community Members:

Debi WilsonAt Lane Electric, our hearts are heavy. This year has presented many challenges, beginning with COVID-19 in March, that brought significant change to our daily lives. As we wrapped up a beautiful Labor Day weekend, devastating wildfires spread through our small and beautiful McKenzie River communities.

Our hearts are with you during this significant loss to your homes, businesses, and the true beauty of this area.

While the damage is great and healing will take time, we have a beacon of light. Lane Electric has begun repairs in areas where it is safe to do so.

There was significant damage to our electrical system and the Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission system. BPA has transmission lines out of service due to wind and wildfire. Lane Electric’s system sustained damage from the powerful windstorm that swept through the area. Other parts of the system continue to sustain damage from the Holiday Farm Fire.

At the east end of the McKenzie River electrical system, we were able to replace nearly 40 poles and provide repairs up to McKenzie School. Lane Electric brought in a 2-megawatt generator to power up the substation and return light to those homes.

While we are excited and thankful to restore service to this area, there is a lot of work ahead to rebuild our electrical system.

We have just begun to repair the damage. Service to all will take time and careful planning. At the time of this letter, damage continues to our system as the fire still smolders. When we know it is safe to return to those areas, we will assess the damage and create a plan to rebuild the electrical system.

We know Lane Electric is a small part of rebuilding these beautiful communities. The McKenzie River communities are strong, and we look forward to rebuilding with you. We are excited to again visit your restaurants and businesses, and provide service to your homes.

I have profound sorrow for your losses, and my heart—as well as those of all Lane Electric employees and the board of directors—are with you.


Debi Wilson
General Manager