By Don Nelson
Members of the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative (OCEC) re-elected two board members at the co-op’s 76th annual meeting on April 13, and heard status reports on OCEC operations and activities.
Paul Taylor (District 3) and Dave Gens (District 4), both running unopposed, were easily re-elected to the board with only a handful of write-in or “no” votes.
About 100 people attended the meeting, according to a report from General Manager David Gottula.
Gottula reviewed the co-op’s upcoming rate review process. The existing three-year rate schedule adopted in 2012 may or may not be revised, depending on the review’s findings, Gottula said.
The electric cooperative has hired a consulting firm to develop a Cost of Services Analysis (COSA). The COSA details the true cost of providing electricity to various classifications of users, such as residential, street lighting and irrigation. Board member Ray Peterson will take the lead on designing rates after the COSA is completed.
Gottula said the board hopes to have a preliminary rate proposal developed this spring, and hold a series of informational meetings for co-op members over the summer. New rates, once they are approved, would take effect Jan. 1, 2016.
“It’s very early in the process,” Gottula said this week.
In other business:
• Co-op members learned that the Okanogan County Energy Inc., OCEC’s propone division, saw a small profit in 2014. Gottula said propane prices have been dropping.
• Gottula reported that under the Dark Sky program, conversion of OCEC-owned streetlights has been completed with about 80 percent of the materials costs covered by the Bonneville Power Administration. OCEC is now working with the Town of Winthrop to mitigate lighting issues at the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink.
• Members saw a presentation on what OCEC is doing to prepare its systems and customers for outages caused by natural disasters. Gottula said OCEC has completed cleaning up debris that resulted from the Carlton Complex Fire and related events.
The co-op’s total expenses related to the fires came to about $830,000, Gottula said, with about $700,000 of that reimbursed by the state and federal governments. A snowstorm last Thanksgiving caused another $51,535 worth of damage that the co-op is absorbing, he said.
The co-op also announced that Glenn Huber has been appointed operations manager, replacing Gary Wilson, who recently retired after 39 years with OCEC. Huber previously worked for the Okanogan County Public Utility District for 16 years.