BAKER CITY - Oregon Trail Electric Consumers Cooperative is urging members to comment on a proposed rate increase by the Bonneville Power Administration.

The BPA recently announced the start of a 2010 combined Power and Transmission rate proceeding, which would result in a 9.4 percent increase in the rate OTECC pays BPA for electricity. The change would be effective Oct. 1, 2009.

The rate increase means there is a good probability OTECC will need to increase its rates to members, although probably not by as much as the BPA hike, officials said.

"It's too early to determine what the BPA rate increase specifically means to OTECC members, but we do know it will cost all of us more," said Werner Buehler, general manager.

The process for BPA increasing rates is slightly different than what a for-profit utility would need to go through though. The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) does not have jurisdiction over a BPA rate increase.

BPA is holding a public comment period on the plan that runs to April 24.

"OTECC will use the public comment period as an opportunity to continue working in the best interest of our members by monitoring and participating in the process," said Buehler.

He said the cooperative's aim is to "keep the rates as low as possible while providing a safe and reliable service."

OTECC is encouraging members to comment on the change. Written comments on BPA's power and transmission rate proposals can be submitted by April 24 by mail at: BPA Public Engagement Office - DKE-7, Bonneville Power Administration, P.O. Box 14428, Portland, OR 97293. Include the project name "2010 BPA Rate Case" with your comments.

Comments also can be made online, and a link to the BPA site is found at

"This BPA rate increase is not unexpected and is something we have been trying to warn our members about for some time. Though this impacts us through 2011, there will be additional rate pressures after 2011 too," said Buehler.

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