Outage Map & Status

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

Planned Power Outages:

10/15/2020 @ 2:30pm: Planned brief ~5 min outage up the McKenzie as we switch back to our primary power source from BPA. This should be our last switching of power sources and we are happy to return back to our stable primary feed.

Current Large Scale Outage Information

None at this time.
Stay safe and please do not approach downed lines. Always assume that they are energized!

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.

[/col]

Arm failure due to rot. image of power poles.

Pole Rotten

Pole Rot

rotten base of power bole

Worn Hardware

[/row]

Latest Updates:

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.

Sincerely,

Debi Wilson
General Manager

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

Misery and Miracles

As communities in rural Oregon grapple with unimaginable tragedy from deadly wildfires, electric co-ops band together to restore power—and hope.

By Ted Case

Smoky area with burned down structures.
The staggering fire damage in Detroit, where preliminary numbers suggest 75% to 80% of structures are destroyed.
Photo by Thomas Elzinga

On the evening of Monday, September 7, 2020, the power went out at the home of Steve and Kathy Keable, who live in the town of Blue River, in the McKenzie River Valley outside of Eugene. They saw a glow across the river, and Kathy—a director at Lane Electric Cooperative—checked a scanner app on her phone. The Holiday Farm Fire was fast approaching.

After alerting neighbors—and with embers raining down on their property— the Keables grabbed their cats and fled to an evacuation site near Eugene.

They were not alone.

That evening, thousands of Oregonians across Western Oregon had similar stories as deadly wildfires—fanned by east winds and a drought-stricken landscape—created a path of unprecedented destruction. The fires, which have scorched more than 1 million acres throughout the state, spanned from the state’s southern border to the coast and just outside of Portland.

Rural areas served by Oregon’s electric cooperatives in the mid-Willamette Valley faced significant damage, not only from fires but from high winds that caused widespread outages.

At a press conference on September 9, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the conflagration “could be the greatest loss in human lives and property in our state’s history.”

She said the towns of Detroit, Blue River, and Vida, which included full or partial-service by electric cooperatives, were “substantially destroyed.” At least eight Oregonians were killed in the fires, with a dozen still missing.

Blue River Reservoir in Lane County.
Photo by Zechariah English

Leaders of Consumers Power Inc., based in Philomath, knew early on there was significant damage to the community and the co-op’s infrastructure in the Santiam Canyon, which includes the community of Detroit, a small tourist community east of Salem.

As the Beachie Creek Fire raced through their territory, covering about 500 feet a second, CPI CEO Roman Gillen gave a sobering account of the situation.

We’re not sure we have any customers up there to serve,” he said.

When CPI crews were allowed to enter the Detroit area, they found what was described as a war zone, with few structures left standing. A crucial substation, however, survived the blaze after a Caterpillar created a fireline around the perimeter.

CPI immediately set out to restore power to the area and put out the call for additional crew from Oregon co-ops.

“The response was immediate and tremendous,” Gillen said, as linemen from Salem Electric, Midstate Electric, Oregon Trail Electric, and Hood River Electric cooperatives arrived to help.

Just more than a week later, power was restored to the area.

“This is nothing short of a miracle,” Gillen said.

Lane Electric faced a similar catastrophe in the McKenzie River Valley. Shocking video footage showed the town of Blue River reduced to ash, rubble, and twisted metal as the Keables waited for news of their home.

The co-op’s focus on restoring power to their members ran headlong into the forces of wind and fire.

“There are broken poles like I’ve never seen before,” said Lane CEO Debi Wilson, noting that restoring electricity was difficult even days later when “parts of our system are still on fire.”

Lane Electric, along with two other electric co-ops—Blachly-Lane and West Oregon—also faced a new reality that made it difficult to fulfill their mission to keep the lights on: Energized power lines could exacerbate the situation if trees, felled by wind or fire, fell into the lines.

The co-ops deliberately shut off power to keep their communities safe.

Less than a week after the fires, Lane Electric brought a 2-megawatt generator into the McKenzie River Valley, navigating a small state highway with debris and logs breaking loose from the hillside.

With line crews operating in warm temperatures and the worst air quality in the world—during a pandemic—Lane Electric was able to energize all of its lines east of Blue River, a full day earlier than expected.

“We are incredibly proud of our staff and crew for the ‘can-do’ attitude and grit that made this all possible,” Lane Electric tweeted on September 15.

State officials said more than 500 homes and buildings were destroyed by the Holiday Farm Fire.

Days after the fire swept through the McKenzie River Valley, Steve and Kathy Keable received confirmation that while other homes in their area had been incinerated, their home had survived the fire.

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

Self Exams Save Lives

Breast cancer survivors encourage others to be vigilant

By Craig Reed

Denisa Bradley, left, with her sister, Deanne, and dog, Oliver.
Photo courtesy of Denisa Bradley

Christy McCaslin and Denisa Bradley have advice for both friends and strangers: Do not forget to do self-examinations and don’t forget to have annual mammograms.

The two women are breast cancer survivors who know what it is like to deal with advanced stages of the disease. They don’t wish it on anybody.

Their advice is to catch the disease as early as possible, and the best way to do that is with self-exams and regular mammograms.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month—an annual international health campaign established in 1985 by major breast cancer charities. The purpose is to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis,
treatment, and cure. Educating people about the importance of early screening and testing is stressed.

“I’m a true believer in early detection,” says Denisa, 56. “What I went through, you wouldn’t want to go through. A lot of people out there are in denial about this, but testing is definitely there for a reason. You should have a mammogram every year. I won’t skip one.”

Christy, 46, says she has a few friends who have never had a mammogram because they’re scared of the possible positive results.

“I think they’re insane,” she says. “This month does remind me to encourage my friends to be tested. Don’t put it off. Your health is too important. Don’t use the excuse of being too busy taking care of your family or work to get an annual exam and mammogram done.”

Christy has a group of friends who regularly have mammograms. They text and congratulate each other after clean results are received.

“Every month is breast cancer awareness month in our house,” she says. “It’s now a part of our family history, a part of our daily life, so we’re very vigilant about it.”

Christy says it was a “huge shock” and Denisa says it was “devastating” to receive the phone calls from their doctor offices informing them of the positive results for breast cancer.

Denisa had her annual mammogram in May 2008 and received a clean report. But a few months later, she suspected a problem from a self-examination. Subsequent testing resulted in a cancer diagnosis in December. In January, she had a mastectomy on her left side.

“They didn’t give me options at all,” Denisa says. “The cancer was in the lymph nodes. They said the breast would have to be removed to get it all.”

Christy McCaslin with her children, Kellan, and Alex.
Christy McCaslin with her children, Kellan, and Alex.
Photo courtesy of Christy McCaslin

A month after surgery, Denisa went through six sessions of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiation. She decided to have reconstruction on her left side, but was hit with more bad news during that process. Additional testing came up positive for ovarian cancer, as well as cancer in her right breast.

Denisa had a hysterectomy and right breast removal surgeries on the same day. Eventually, she completed reconstructions of both
breasts.

“Going through all that was traumatic,” says Denisa, a 34-year employee of Lane Electric Cooperative. “I went back to work way too fast. I was sore and didn’t feel very good, but it was audit and end-of-the-year payroll time so I needed to be at work.”

Christy’s diagnosis of breast cancer was made following a mammogram in January 2016. One of her first thoughts was of her father, Douglas Vincent, who died at age 61 from bile duct cancer.

“My immediate thought was ‘is this what is going to kill me?’” she recalls.

Christy had a mammogram eight months earlier and the results were negative, so the positive test was shocking. She had a lumpectomy in February 2016, followed by five months of intense chemotherapy and nine months of less aggressive chemo. During that treatment, she had another lumpectomy in October.

“Once I got the diagnosis and spoke to my gynecologist about the success of treatment, I felt confident my fate wouldn’t be the same as my dad’s,” Christy says. “My surgeon was very encouraging. He made me feel pretty good about the process.”

Both women lost their hair during treatments. Denisa says a wig was “a lifesaver” for her. Christy says losing her hair wasn’t as much of an issue as she thought it would be and she “enjoyed the thick almost blond and curly hair that initially grew back in.”

Both Christy and Denisa say they were grateful for the support, care, and help they received from their respective husbands, Jason and Kevin, and their extended families. Plenty of meals were provided, and there was help with the young children in each house.

To support continuing cancer research, both women have participated in fundraising events such as Relay For Life and Race For The Cure. Christy is especially proud of completing a three- day, 60-mile walk for the Susan B. Komen Foundation in November 2018.

“It was a really meaningful, great experience,” she says. “My team raised about $6,000.”

Denisa also became involved with a Young Ladies Cancer Group whose members provide support for others going through cancer treatments.

“I’ve worked through it, but it’s not easy,” Denisa says. “It is just best to be tested. Don’t wait.”

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

Born With a Rural Heart

By Craig Reed

LEC board member loves helping make life better for area residents

Ingrid Kessler at her vet office holding a cat.
Ingrid Kessler has balanced owning a veterinary hospital, serving on the Lane Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, and competing in triathlons.
Photos Courtesy of Ingrid Kessler

Shortly after putting her first words together as a toddler, Ingrid Kessler looked up at her parents and said, “When are we moving to the country?”

Their reply was, “When you grow up.”

She and her husband, Andy Burke, now live with dogs and cats on their rural property in the Noti area.

“I’ve always had a rural heart, a rural soul,” Ingrid says.

Taking that passion for rural life and its communities to another level, Ingrid is an advocate for rural folks in her role as a member of Lane Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors. She has represented the co-op’s Central District—an area southwest of Eugene—for the past six years. Ingrid was elected to another three-year term in June.

“One of the responsibilities that is most important to me is contributing to the quality of life here in rural Lane County,” Ingrid says. “I know serving on the board is a big opportunity to help make things better for the people who live here.

“It’s a fascinating industry. It is a lot of work to become familiar with a brand new industry, but there are a lot of programs to help educate you.”

Ingrid says that education has come from attending both Oregon and nationally sponsored classes. She also complimented Lane Electric General Manager Debi Wilson, the co-op’s staff, and Ted Case, executive director of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, for answering her many questions.

“Our industry deals with many complex issues,” Debi says. “It is critical that each director stay informed of these issues to make the best decisions for the benefit of the membership. Ingrid is not afraid to step out and advocate for the co-op and its members. She has visited with elected officials to let them know who we are and to ask for their support on issues that impact power costs.”

In addition to using her electric co-op education to benefit Lane Electric, Ingrid used it as the chairperson on the statewide Action Committee for Rural Electrification. ACRE is the federal political action committee of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Representing approximately 1,000 electric cooperatives, ACRE supports incumbents and candidates for the U.S. House and Senate who will speak for and protect the interests of co-ops and their members.

Last year, Ingrid was elected to the NRECA Board of Directors.

“She speaks on behalf of all Oregon cooperatives as a director at NRECA,” Debi says.

“Most recently, she and her fellow directors advocated for financial relief related to the COVID-19 pandemic. NRECA worked with our elected officials in Washington, D.C., to ensure that cooperatives would be eligible to receive the Paycheck Protection Program loans. They were successful.”

At the local level, Ingrid says it’s been important to keep electricity rates as low as possible and to safeguard renewable resources. At the state and national levels, she has spoken to officials about energy policy, focusing on such issues as affordability, environmental impact and social justice.

Ingrid Kessler running in marathon.
LEC board member Ingrid Kessler is also a triathlete and marathon runner.

Before becoming a rural resident, Ingrid spent most of her life in big city environments. She was raised in Manhattan and attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, earning a degree in classics—ancient Greek and Latin.

She was attending Stanford University in California and working toward a doctorate in the classics when she had “a very early mid-life crisis.”

“I wanted to be a veterinarian,” she says.

She was accepted at Michigan State University in East Lansing and earned her doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1994.

“I went from ancient philosophy to emergency veterinarian medicine,” she says with a laugh.

While working toward her doctorate, Ingrid took a special animal surgery course at Washington State University in Pullman. After finishing the course, she traveled west and then down the Oregon Coast. That trip inspired her to apply for veterinarian jobs in Oregon.

After two years of general practice at Bush Animal Hospital in Eugene, Ingrid had the chance to fill in as a relief doctor at the Emergency Veterinary Hospital, on the border of Eugene and Springfield.

“In the first hour, I knew emergency medicine was for me,” she says.

Two months later, she began working full time at the emergency hospital. Ten years later, in 2006, she and a business partner bought the emergency facility. The hospital grew under the management of the partners and their staff.

During that time, Ingrid represented the hospital as a member of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce and the local government affairs council. Through those groups, she met Lane Electric General Manager Rick Crinklaw, who invited her in 2011 to be a member of the co-op’s scholarship committee. She accepted. When the Central District board position opened in 2014, she was encouraged to submit her name.

“It was a very hotly contested election,” she recalls, noting there were six candidates. “I was very, very fortunate to prevail.”

For five years, Ingrid was a busy businesswoman, a veterinarian, and a Lane Electric board member who was learning about an entirely new industry. She also found time to train as a triathlete, competing in swimming, biking, and running in both Ironman and individual sport events. In 2019, her schedule got a bit lighter when the emergency hospital was sold, ending her career as a practicing veterinarian.

“For five years, I had more than a full-time job and the board position,” Ingrid says. “It can be done. So for anybody who might have the interest in a board position, it’s both a great way to serve the community and to have the personal opportunity to be involved in the community, talking about things that are important and to affect wonderful changes for our shared future.”

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — September 2020

Be Heard, Join ACRE

Debi WilsonSummers here at the co-op are some of our busiest times. The dry weather allows us to prepare for storms by performing system maintenance, trimming rights-of-way, and inspecting lines that are otherwise problematic to reach.

There actually are a few storms brewing that we could use your help to prepare for.

We are all experiencing difficulties and a certain degree of loss during these trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic. There also are pressing legislative issues that need our collective attention.

As Congress continues to struggle with relief packages and charting a course back to prosperity, there is an opportunity for us to advocate for our co-op and our communities.

We need to urge policymakers to minimize COVID-19 impacts and provide a safety net by:

  • Promoting investment to expand broadband access in areas of rural America that lack internet access, like much of our service territory.
  • Providing federal funds to address potential operational shortfalls for electric co-ops whose members are disproportionally affected by the economic downturn and not able to pay their bills.
  • Directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to swiftly provide promised funding to co-ops that have restored their electric systems devastated by past disasters, such as last year’s snowstorm.

Here is how you can do all that and more, in less than 5 minutes.

Cooperatives across Oregon are encouraging their members to promote commonsense solutions by way of a grassroots program called Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association Action, or ORECA-Action.

Upon visiting the Oreca-Action website, click the “Take Action” button, which will provide you with information about things you can do right now to help us better weather the storms ahead. Please visit the site today and help us help you.

Cooperatives have a storied past of political engagement. They understand the power that comes from banding together with those around us to advocate for things important to us.

After all, it was a group of concerned neighbors up the McKenzie River that got together in the late 1930s to make their voices heard, which spurred the creation of what is now Lane Electric Cooperative.

More recently, it took a group of concerned co-op members to reach out to their elected officials to advocate for support of the RURAL Act, which corrected unintended changes to the IRS code that would have cost us our tax-exempt status.

It will take just such a group of concerned citizens to continue supporting the preferred alternative of the Environmental Impact Study regarding the four lower Snake River dams to keep our power clean, reliable, and economical.

It’s more important than ever to work cooperatively and advocate for solutions to the problems facing our co-op, our community, and our country.

We need to do our part and add our voices to the many others around us. Members of Congress work for us, and they need to hear our stories.

Debi Wilson
General Manager

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

We All Have a Role in Fire Prevention

By Craig Reed

Truck spraying water on trees.
In July 2017, a tree outside a Lane Electric Cooperative right-of-way and on railroad property caused a fire in Oakridge. One mobile home was lost and several small businesses were threatened. Local authorities quickly got it under control with no additional damage.

The summer fire season is here again, so it is time to be conscious about prevention.

Lane Electric Cooperative’s outside crews received a refresher course in fire science, held a safety meeting, put fire suppression equipment in proper order, and applied for exemptions to work on the power lines during the early stages of fire season.

Lane Electric members also have a responsibility to protect their power source, their homes, and their rural property. They should follow guidelines presented by the Oregon Department of Forestry regarding defensible space around their structures. The general rule is to have a large fuel break of dirt, green vegetation, or dry grass that is less than 4-inches tall around structures.

The destructive and deadly wildfires in Northern California the past few years are reminders that human- or lightning-caused flames can quickly spread. Taking preventive measures in advance is important.

“Out of tragedy comes movement,” says Lane Electric Operations Manager Tony Toncray. “People are more open to severe trimming and removal of trees in the right-of-way areas for the power lines.”

Greg Pierce, safety director for the six-member Cooperative Safety Group, agrees the California fires opened Oregonians’ eyes with regard to wildfires. He says all the fuel on the ground will become extremely flammable with any dry spell.

Firefighting this summer is expected to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as firefighters try to stay healthy, Greg adds.

Joe Raade, division chief for South Lane County Fire & Rescue, says it’s paramount to do property work now.

“That will help control how a fire will spread and the property damage it may cause,” he says. “I think most people are fire wise, fire aware, and will do the things that help alleviate exposure to fire.”

Rural residents should have a fire barrier; trim tree branches away from buildings and roofs; remove vegetation neither fire-resistant nor green; remove leaves and needles from rain gutters, roofs, and decks; and move firewood or debris piles to a safe distance from buildings.

Residential driveways should be clearly marked with an address number and have a clear right-of-way, providing easy access for large fire engines to reach structures.

“One of the most important things people have control over is the defensible space they have around their home and property,” says Rainbow Plews, fire chief for the Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Protection District. “I think people need encouragement and even education about what to clear, what to water, what to plant when building a home, or putting in landscaping. Those factors make a huge difference when a fire comes through.”

Residents with questions can call their fire district or the Oregon Department of Forestry for resources, or ask for a staff person to visit and provide an analysis.

“People need to take that education and then apply it at home,” Rainbow says.

The time to prepare is before a fire happens, she adds. Houses with good defensible space have survived past wildfires.

“If defensible space has been prepared, it makes our job so much easier and safer,” she says.

At Lane Electric, work on the co-op’s overhead lines is done throughout the year. Vegetation management in rights-of-way is on a three-year rotation. Checking for hazard trees and branches and their possible removal is on a two-year rotation. A tree or branch falling onto a power line can create a spark that can fall to the ground and start a fire.

“Inspection is paramount,” says Skip Shipman, Lane Electric’s rights-of-way coordinator. “We drive, use a four-wheeler, or hike the lines looking for trees that could possibly start a wildfire. It’s quite the involved process.”

Skip adds that Lane Electric members are essential in the inspection process because they can report danger trees.

“We rely heavily on members making us aware when there is a problem or a potential problem, especially after a storm comes through,” Skip says. “They do an outstanding job in calling and reporting hazards.”

As the fire season progresses through hotter, drier months, the co-op’s crews and the contract crews are pulled from extreme fire areas and do more work in or near rural communities where the fire potential is less.

In his 32 years in the electrical industry as a lineman, foreman, and manager, Tony Toncray says no crew he knows of has created a spark that started a wildfire.

“But we carry that risk and fear of a fire all the time,” he says. “There’s always the potential, so being as preventive as possible for all of us is very important.”

Protect Your Home

7 ways residents can reduce the risk that their homes and property will become fuel for a wildfire.

Clear — Clear off pine needles, dead leaves, and anything that can burn from your roofline, gutters, decks, porches, patios, and along fence lines. Falling embers will have nothing to burn.

Store Away — Store away furniture cushions, rattan mats, potted plants, and other decorations from decks, porches, and patios. These items catch embers and help ignite your home if you leave them outside.

Screen and Seal — Wind-borne embers can get into homes easily through vents and other openings and burn the home from the inside out. Walk around your house to see what openings you can screen or temporarily seal up.

Rake — Embers landing in mulch that touches your house, deck, or fence is a big fire hazard. Rake out any landscaping mulch to at least five feet away.

Trim — Trim back any shrubs or tree branches that come closer than 5 feet to the house and attachments, and any overhanging branches.

Remove — Walk around your house and remove anything within 30 feet that could burn, such as woodpiles, spare lumber, vehicles, and boats – anything that can act as a large fuel source.

Close — If ordered to evacuate, make sure all windows and doors are closed tightly, and seal up any pet doors. Many homes are destroyed by embers entering those openings and burning the house from the inside out.

NFPA has many more tips and safety recommendations on its website.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — August 2020

Virtual Annual Meeting Follow-Up

Debi WilsonIncluded in this edition of Ruralite are follow-up reports that were promised during our first-ever virtual annual meeting. I hope you take some time to look them over. They are helpful in understanding some of the behind-the-scenes efforts we undertake at the cooperative.

As indicated in those reports, safety and financial stability are important to all of us here at Lane Electric. We also value your ability to work and thrive in the communities we serve. That is why we usually hold district meetings each year throughout our service territory—a practice that is not typical for most other co-ops.

We heard from many of you that providing broadband internet was something you would like us to explore.

Last year, I told you Lane Electric was working with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative to conduct a broadband feasibility study. After an extensive study and assessing multiple paths to feasibility, the results of the study are now here. Unfortunately, the results were inconclusive, meaning it would only be feasible under what I would consider to be overly ambitious conditions.

The biggest factor identified in the feasibility study is the lack of poles on which to attach the fiber.

Lane Electric strives to improve the quality of rural life for our members. The resiliency improvements we have made converting our overhead power lines to underground means there are not enough poles on which to attach the fiber. About 53% of our power lines are underground and safe from severe weather.

I am proud of the progress we have made to protect our electric system. At the same time, I am disappointed at the outcome of the feasibility study.

Feasibility is essential to developing a financially sound business plan. This is what you have come to expect of Lane Electric, as do our lenders.

While there currently is no sustainable path forward, we will continue to explore opportunities to support expansion of broadband services in Lane County.

A bright spot is that this news comes as Lane Electric is developing a strategic plan that will guide our actions the next few years. This insightful experience helps us confidently navigate how best to serve and support our rural communities.

I look forward to sharing more on our strategic plans as things take shape, and am excited by the discussions we are having about the future of Lane Electric.

Debi Wilson
General Manager

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

LEC Awards Five Scholarships

By Craig Reed

Lane Electric Cooperative has been awarding scholarships to its members and their children for close to 40 years.

Initially, two $500 scholarships were presented for use at nearby Lane Community College. Over time, the co-op’s scholarship program has been redesigned. This year, the scholarship committee selected five high school graduates to receive Lane Electric’s College of Choice awards. Each scholarship is $1,500 and helps cover the costs of tuition and fees.

Awarding these scholarships is part of the Seven Cooperative Principles, which includes Education, Training and Information, and Concern for Community.

Cedric De Klerk

Cedric De KlerkAge: 18

Parent: Bert De Klerk

Education: 2020 graduate of McKenzie Community School, plans to attend University of Oregon.

Future Goal: Playing clarinet as a member of the Boston Symphony.

After first picking up and playing the clarinet in the sixth grade, Cedric de Klerk has been on a mission.

He has practiced and practiced, and then practiced some more, with a goal of someday being a member of the Boston Symphony.

“I want to be a professional clarinet player,” says Cedric. “I’ll work really hard to get there. I know it takes a lot of dedication to get to that level.”

During high school, Cedric performed clarinet solos at his school, helped younger musicians during band practice, attended a three-day honor band conference, was a member of the Eugene Youth Symphony, and participated in the Music in May program organized by Pacific University in Forest Grove.

He and his clarinet are now headed to the University of Oregon for more education, instruction and practice. He will major in clarinet performance.

Cedric says he was excited and honored to receive the Lane Electric scholarship that will help him pursue his dream.

“I have a passion for the clarinet,” he says. “I have a lot of work to do with it, but I’m willing.”

Galen Fox

Galen FoxAge: 18

Parents: Gila and Tim Fox

Education: 2020 graduate of McKenzie High School, plans to attend Oregon State University.

Future Goal: To work for a company that is involved in developing clean technology.

Having been dual-enrolled at McKenzie High School and Lane Community College, Galen Fox has quite the head start on his college career.

The recent graduate plans to attend Oregon State University and major in mechanical engineering and renewable materials through the College of Forestry. He will enter OSU with 65 college credits, almost enough to give him junior standing.

Galen wants to work for a forward-thinking company on clean technology.

“My teachers have been influential and the opportunity to attend Lane Community College has been important,” says Galen, a native of McKenzie Bridge. “Oregon State will be something new, but I think I’m pretty well prepared.”

Galen is not taking a summer break from school. Instead, he is taking summer classes at OSU. He plans to earn his bachelor’s degrees in two to three years and then will consider his options, one being to pursue a master’s degree.

“I’m very excited about the future,” Galen says. “I’m really thankful for the support from Lane Electric. The scholarship will help make my college experience possible.”

Louis Hunter

Louis HunterAge: 18

Parents: Simone and David Hunter

Education: 2020 graduate of South Eugene High School, plans to attend University of Oregon.

Future Goal: To attend medical school.

Louis Hunter was impacted at an early age by the medical profession.

His younger sister was sick and spent time in an intensive care unit. She recovered, and Louis was relieved and thankful. Now the 2020 South Eugene High School graduate is eager to begin college work at the University of Oregon that will take him into the medical field.

“When my sister was in the hospital, I saw the wonders that medicine and doctors can do,” Louis says. Combined with my interest in innovation of new treatments, I would love to work with that to cure people. That would be really meaningful.”

Louis will major in human physiology.

“Majoring in human physiology will help me gain a better understanding of humans,” he says.

He says he is honored and grateful to be selected for a Lane Electric College of Choice award. He explains that he would have probably needed to work about 150 hours to make $1,500, but now “I will use that time instead for studying, doing internships and volunteering.”

Madaline Maher

Madaline MaherAge: 17

Parents: Marshall and Tina Maher

Education: 2020 graduate of Oakridge High School, plans to attend Western Oregon University.

Future Goal: Teaching at the grade-school level.

Following in the footsteps of her grandmother and her mother, Madaline Maher is ready for the next step toward becoming an elementary school teacher.

Madaline is a recent graduate of Oakridge High School and will attend Western Oregon University in Monmouth this fall. She will major in education.

“I’m ready for a new chapter in life,” says Madaline, who attended Oakridge schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. “Even though our senior year was cut short, I still appreciate all the teachers that stuck with us and all the teachers that stayed with us through all the years to get us ready for the next step.”

Those teachers who have been mentors for Madaline include her grandmother, Andrea Maher, who taught grade school classes at three schools, including Oakridge, and her mother, Tina Maher, a longtime first-grade teacher in Oakridge.

“I want to help lead younger students to a better life,” Madaline says. “I love working with younger kids. That’s most important to me.”

Madaline says she is thankful for the Lane Electric scholarship and that she will use it “to my full potential.”

“I’m ready to move on to the next chapter,” she says. “I’ve always dreamed about going to college. I’m ready, but I will miss home.”

Samara Park

Samara ParkAge: 18

Parents: Beth Stormshak and Doug Park

Education: 2020 graduate of South Eugene High School, plans to attend Colorado College.

Future Goal: Teaching and doing research in physics.

Samara Park is passionate about climate change, which is guiding her toward a college career in physics with a focus on renewable energy.

The 2020 graduate of South Eugene High School will attend Colorado College in Colorado Springs this fall. She decided on this school because she wanted a smaller liberal arts school and because of its unique block plan that consists of taking one class for three hours daily for one month. Four classes are taken per semester.

Samara took a physics class during her high school junior year and says it was the most interesting class of her high school years. She also took biology and chemistry, but says physics was her favorite.

“I feel prepared to move on,” she says. “South Eugene encourages students to take Advanced Placement classes. I took some in science, and those get you ready for college.”

Samara’s goals include a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate that will allow her to research and teach.

“I want to work on increasing battery storage from renewable energy,” she says.

Samara was a member of her high school’s cross country and track and field teams. She plans to participate in cross country at the college level.

She says she is thankful for the support she has received from her family, her high school, and Lane Electric for the scholarship in order to further her education.

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

Annual Report 2019

Annual Financial Report

In June, you received a copy of the summarized financial statements for 2019. It was included with your ballot in the annual meeting voter’s packet and annual report. The following are some of the financial highlights of last year.

When we met with you for the district meetings last year, we were still recovering from the most devastating weather event in Lane Electric’s history. The total cost to repair the system and restore power was $5.8 million. To help cover those costs, Lane Electric applied for Federal Emergency Management Administration grants that covered 75% of the cost, or about $4.4 million. The co-op borrowed the remaining $1.4 million.

We began 2019 with an equity ratio of 44% and ended with an equity ratio of 41.8%. The equity ratio is the measurement of total equity as a percentage of total assets, or how much of Lane Electric’s assets are financed through equity rather than debt. The board of directors has determined an equity ratio range of 40% to 45% is a measure of good financial health. A strong equity ratio supports system improvements and allows for capital credit retirements. It also helps maintain rate stability, provides for risk mitigation—a cushion for extreme weather events that significantly impact our margins—and allows us to take advantage of significant opportunities when they arise.

Other Notable Items for 2019

The board authorized the retirement of the 2018 outstanding capital credits, totaling $1,851,112 on a present-value basis. These capital credits were applied to your November 2019 bill.

Since 2008, Lane Electric has been the recipient of funds from a lawsuit with the Bonneville Power Administration. The settlement agreement provided for payments through September 2019. Throughout that period, we received a total of $4.9 million.

All in all, 2019 was another sound financial year for your cooperative, which provides the foundation for future financial health. We paid our bills on time, our bankers were satisfied with our financial performance, and we maintained the cooperative’s assets and good name.

The board of directors continues to maintain appropriate oversight with an adopted annual budget, review of monthly financial reports, and an annual audit. The board retained Aldrich Advisors + CPAs to perform the annual CPA audit, which again resulted in a clean, unmodified opinion.

We value your patronage and appreciate the opportunity to serve and support so many vibrant communities here in Lane County. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Annual Operations Report

At our district meetings last year, we talked about future measures we would incorporate to help mitigate the effects and the risk winter storms and years of drought have on our electric system. Fresh from the most devastating snowstorm in Lane Electric history, we went to work putting those measures in place.

In 2019, we converted more than a mile of existing overhead lines to underground, further reducing our exposure to falling limbs, trees, and ice buildup. This year, we are on track to convert 2.5 miles of overhead lines to underground.

Burying power lines is expensive—roughly three times the cost of replacing the line in its original overhead configuration. To help mitigate those costs, we have submitted four projects to the Federal Emergency Management Administration for reimbursement. Those projects are estimated to cost around $1.2 million to complete. While there is no guarantee these projects meet their criteria and are accepted, we will receive a 75% reimbursement if they do.

Following the storm, we surveyed our system looking for broken and leaning trees, hanging limbs and treetops—all of which threaten future damage to the system—and removed what we found.

As we discussed during district meetings, years of drought have wreaked havoc on our forests, and wildfire threats are an even greater risk to our system. To help mitigate this, we have significantly increased our efforts to proactively remove dead trees that threaten our power lines and ramped up our mowing budget to clear underbrush.

These efforts—among others we continue to explore alongside utilities from across the region—will help reduce future storm damage and mitigate our risk of a wildfire.

We want all of the communities we serve to feel safe, secure, and satisfied with the exceptional service Lane Electric provides.

Carousel, Inside Ruralite

Leadership Skills

Lane Electric board president brings her people skills to the boardroom

Susan Knudsen ObermeyerBy Craig Reed

Susan Knudsen Obermeyer readily admits she’s always had a fear of electricity just because she didn’t know much about it.

But she does know about working with people, having served in various capacities for the U.S. Forest Service in the Oakridge/Westfir area for 35 years. She has also been involved in numerous community service projects.

When Susan received a postcard encouraging her to apply for an upcoming vacancy on the Lane Electric Cooperative Board of Directors for the Oakridge District, she wasn’t sure how to respond. With additional encouragement from a second postcard with the same invitation, she applied.

After interviews with the co-op, she was selected in December 2013 from six applicants to fill the position.

“I know about working with people, working in groups,” Susan says. “I knew I could learn about electricity. I figured I might have something I could contribute.”

Seven years later, the 65-year-old Forest Service retiree is now in her third year as the board’s president.

“I have leadership skills that I previously used as a supervisor with the U.S. Forest Service and as president of the (Oakridge) school board and that I can now use as president of the co-op board,” Susan says. “I’ve learned a lot about electricity. I’ve taken fundamental electricity courses.

But I probably spend more time and energy taking board classes, how to run meetings, managing policy, making sure bylaws are in place, making decisions and making sure we have the time, money, and people to do upcoming projects.”

Kathy Keable, the board’s vice president, speaks highly of Susan and her leadership skills. The two have known each other for years, having met while working on Forest Service projects. Kathy worked in the McKenzie District.

“I think Susan has done a great job making decisions for the co-op,” Kathy says. “She always keeps in mind what is best for the members when it comes to board decisions.

“She always hears from every board member. She listens to people. That’s a great skill to have, not just in personal conversations, but in group discussions.”

Susan presenting an award to a man.
Susan presented Dave Ramsey with his Lane Electric Member of the Year award at the 2019 annual meeting.

Susan says initially she figured being a board member would be a part-time job. She now admits it takes a lot of work. In her first year in 2014, she attended a national conference and discovered most co-op board members are retirees because they have the time to attend meetings, read and study information, and make decisions on behalf of their members.

In her seven years on the board, Susan has participated in the hiring of two general managers for the co-op, endured along with the rest of the staff and members the major snow event of 2019 and the subsequent extended power outages, and is now dealing with the “Stay at home, stay safe” order caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been challenging,” Susan says of the situation.

The co-op’s monthly board meetings have been held online, but not all of the board members have been able to get on video. All have had audio access.

Susan’s quarterly talk with General Manager Debi Wilson was also online.

“I really appreciate the leadership Susan brings to the cooperative,” Debi says. “She faces challenges head-on and is not satisfied until an issue has been seen all the way through.”

Susan says she is thankful power to members’ meters has not been disrupted during this time.

Susan says her goals include keeping electricity rates as low and as sustainable as possible, being prepared for lengthy power outages and improving broadband service to co-op members.

“Everybody would like free electricity,” she says with a laugh. “But it doesn’t work that way. Cost of supplies and equipment go up. Wages go up. The board has to balance those factors and do the best job we can regarding rates and services for our members.

“Being on the board has been fun, interesting, and also sometimes frustrating.

We don’t always agree in our discussions and decision-making, but we still like each other at the end of the day. That’s important.”

Serving Her Hometown

Susan holding a young girl, surrounded by bags full of supplies.
Susan Knudsen Obermeyer takes a moment with her granddaughter June while helping out with the 2017 Christmas basket program.

Susan is no stranger to community service and doing the kind of work the co-op board position requires. Serving her home community of Oakridge is near and dear to her heart.

Susan was born and raised in Oakridge, graduating from Oakridge High School in 1973. She took classes at Lane Community College in Eugene and went to work for the U.S. Forest Service in 1974, initially as a seasonal worker in the Oakridge District. It wasn’t long before her energy and work ethic on the job earned her a full-time position.

Eventually, Susan cruised, appraised, and laid out timber sales. She became the timber pre-sale supervisor. She retired in 2011 as the operations staff officer for the district’s timber division.

Susan also found time to serve 12 years on the Oakridge School Board and took a turn as chairwoman. She and her husband, Bob, have a son and a daughter. Both went through the Oakridge school system.

Susan also coordinated and organized the Senior Citizens’ Christmas Basket Program and the Oakridge Mini-Olympics program, and helped at the outdoor school program for students. She and Bob are on the Oakridge Museum Board.

During her Forest Service career, Susan was a steward for the Forest Service union. She continues to serve on the Oregon State Forestry Advisory Committee for Western Oregon, and is a member and the treasurer for the Southern Willamette Forest Collaborative Board.