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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow OTEC delivers more than kilowatts

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OTEC delivers more than kilowatts

When it comes to college scholarships, Leo Adler’s name reigns supreme in Baker County.

As well it should — Adler, the philanthropist who died in 1993, bequeathed his $20 million fortune to the community, with more than half set aside to help Baker County and North Powder students go to college.

In the past 15 years, thousands of local residents have benefited from Mr. Adler’s generosity.

But lately another benefactor has helped make higher education more attainable for Northeastern Oregon students.

Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative.

The non-profit utility, which supplies power to most of Baker County and to parts of Union, Grant and Harney counties, will dole out 28 scholarships, each worth $3,000, in 2011.

Yet just a decade ago, OTEC’s scholarship program consisted of four awards of $1,000 each.

That’s an increase of $80,000 in scholarships in 10 years.

Eight of the 28 scholarships for 2011 are for students already enrolled in college.

The deadline to apply is Jan. 14. More information is available at www.otecc.com

Nor is the scholarship program the only way Baker and the other counties in OTEC’s service area benefit from having a member-owned utility rather than a private firm.

This month OTEC, as it has each December for more than a dozen years, will send rebate checks to its customers.

These refunds, known as capital credits, are analogous to dividends that private companies return to their stockholders.

The amounts are modest — generally less than $50 for residential customers.

Still, it’s always pleasant to receive a check in the mail from your power supplier rather than a bill.

Since OTEC was formed in 1988, the cooperative has returned more than $15 million in capital credits to its customers.

It’s easy to take for granted electricity, and the company that keeps it flowing to your home or business.

We absolutely depend on it, but it’s most conspicuous on those (fortunately) rare occasions when it’s not there.

Baker City residents, though, are especially lucky. We get something more than kilowatts from our power provider.

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