Say, Steve Schauer, didn't I see you on TV the other day?
Schauer, member services manager for the Oregon Trail Electric
Consumers Cooperative, hasn't really made any recent television
appearances - at least of the traditional variety.
But four spots - three in which he was a star - have found their way to
the Web site YouTube and are posted on the OTEC Web site, www.otecc.com .
While Schauer is featured prominently - he's the only human in a spot
called "Cattle Fountain" - the real star might be a horse that belongs
to Pat and John Leonard.
As Schauer is busy at the Leonards' ranch telling his YouTube audience
about an OTEC rebate program for helping them buy a product called the
cattle fountain, which helps water livestock during the winter months
without having to use electricity to heat the trough, the Leonards'
horse is stealing the scene, sniffing something unseen in Schauer's
What the audience doesn't see, said Michael Howe, OTEC's communication
specialist, is the two takes that OTEC couldn't use. In both of those
takes, the horse tried to nibble Schauer's ear.
"We had to stop, I was laughing so hard," said Howe, who was operating the camera.
Posting information of interest to OTEC customers does have a serious side, of course. Howe said the locally-owned utility, which serves about 29,000 customers in Baker, Union, Harney and Grant counties, is "looking for different ways to reach out that aren't expensive."
The idea was Howe's, although, he said, "I know of some other cooperatives that have tried this kind of thing."
To date, four spots have been posted on YouTube, the popular site whose slogan is "Broadcast Yourself." In addition to "Cattle Fountain," two spots feature Schauer and Howe seated at OTEC headquarters telling people how they can get free low-flow showerheads from the utility, and about a commercial lighting program that helps businesses save money by replacing inefficient lighting.
A fourth spot has stock footage about a Youth Tour program OTEC sponsors in which outstanding high school students attend a conference in Washington, D.C., to learn more about the federal government and about the energy industry.
The OTEC spots aren't among the most popular videos on YouTube - as of Monday, fewer than 300 people had seen at least one of the four spots.
"We've had a little feedback, and it's been positive," Howe said. "We've just started publicizing it."
Already, the spots have brought about at least one positive development, Howe said. A cooperative in Colorado saw the Cattle Fountain spot and immediately contacted OTEC about how they could start a similar program in their community.
Howe said he sees "a whole slew of possibilities" for future YouTube spots, including airing the annual state of the cooperative speech that Werner Buehler, OTEC's general manager, delivers during the cooperative's annual meeting each spring.
Other future topics the cooperative has discussed include conservation programs and a video of safety demonstrations that OTEC crews deliver to area elementary schools each year.
That last video could produce quite a shock, because OTEC typically ends each safety demonstration by showing children the potential zapping power of large amounts of electricity - handled safely, of course.