OTEC raises delivery charge but pays big compensation

Oregon Trail Electric Consumers Cooperative (OTEC) residential members and customers have experienced increases in OTEC’s monthly “delivery charge” on their monthly bill in recent years. In a little over eight years, accompanied by an impressive propaganda campaign, OTEC has raised this fixed charge, the money you have to pay OTEC just to buy electricity, by almost 300 percent, from $10 to $29.50 per month, and they would like to raise it even higher. Idaho Power’s monthly charge is $8 for Oregon residents and even less in Idaho. Public Utilities Commissions in the various states tend to keep these monthly delivery charges low and recover most delivery costs through a tiered rate system based on usage and its benefits, but electric cooperatives are for the most part unregulated monopolies that have little oversight from the Public Utility Commission, so they get away with the practice.

OTEC constantly reminds members of our low rate for electricity used, but figures from OTEC tell another tale, because of our high delivery charge, more than half of OTEC residential members would have a lower bill if they were with Idaho Power under its current rate structure. That’s you if you average less than 1,000 kWh a month.

Consumer Reports commissioned a study of these fixed charges that indicated that higher fixed charges are inequitable, increase the bills of low-usage customers like singles and elderly the most, and disproportionately impact the poor while reducing incentives for energy efficiency.

There are expenditure changes that could help lower fixed charges and OTEC members’ bills, though.

Employee compensation would be a good place to start as the top eight employees took home $2,286,446 in compensation and other benefits in 2016, skewed high by the $785,135 raked in by exiting CEO Werner Buehler ($257,587 of his compensation was from a non-qualified deferred compensation plan). The elected directors’ yearly take for 3 to 8 hours of work a week varied from $16,100 to $26,250 with an hourly wage that ranged from $71 to $103 per hour depending on the director. Compensation data is from federal tax form 990.

Another place to look are programs unrelated to OTEC’s purpose of providing power and assisting members with their electricity infrastructure needs. OTEC spent $655,681on these unrelated programs in the last five years.

Christopher Christie

Baker City

County commissioners need to work together

The editorial in Monday night’s paper ended in a bad note. No one commissioner should act alone. County order assigns the three commissioner seats and an established job description is followed.

Everyone is throwing bricks at everyone. Now would be a good time to gather them and start making a foundation for a cohesive Commission Board working together.

The final decision will be made by the Weed Board and all three commissioners on Jan. 30, 2018, before the Feb. 1 deadline. This meeting was known by all involved. Yes, someone is getting the cart before the horse without following basic procedure.

The saying is back door friends are your best friends. This was right out back door sneaky with a “surprise” delivery.

The “High Ho Commissioner” to save the day should not be brought out as changing everything (no matter how many constituents seek an answer).

Only one man changed the world alone ... and He was under the direction of His Father.

The commissioners should communicate and stand united with the Weed Board and the decision agreed for the best outcome for the County.

Cindy Carpenter

Baker City

Asking Oregon’s governor to stop Idaho Power

The Honorable Kate Brown:

Dear Kate: It is my understanding that you are governor of the entire state of Oregon, not just Western Oregon. I live east of the Cascades which you may think of as Idaho, but really — I’m not making this up — it is part of Oregon. Check Rand McNally and see for yourself. Even though many people here wear cowboy boots we happen to be part of your universe. We are not Idahoans, thank heavens, but it is because of them I am making this plea to you. We need a wall along our common border. I don’t care who pays for it — Oregon, Idaho or Mexico — just build it. Here’s why:

Idaho Power. Please keep them out of Oregon. Their name is not Oregon Power. That’s a clue. They are an out-of-state, for-profit, privately-owned company that aggressively intends to build a self-serving high-voltage power line through Eastern Oregon with no benefits to Oregon whatsoever.

Recently the Trump Administration announced intentions to fast-track offshore drilling along the Oregon Coast. Your response was: “In what universe would this be OK?” Then you continued: “Our coastal beaches are really important to Oregonians. They are very important to who we are and very important to our economy.” Replace “coastal beaches” with “wide open spaces” and you get the picture. Idaho Power doesn’t care if it desecrates Oregon’s beauty and heritage with their high-voltage power lines. B2H means we here in Eastern Oregon will see 306 miles of transmission towers and lines, just as the people living on the coast will see miles of drilling rigs. Oil rigs, power lines: There is no difference. Your Oregon, governor, is the same Oregon we, in the east, live in. With your gubernatorial powers you can wall these intruders out and save Oregon. Stop the B2H project. Stop Idaho Power. They are not from our universe.

Whit Deschner

Baker City