To the Editor:
According to a report in the Sept. 4 issue of The Oregonian, PacifiCorp made an announcement that has sent shivers down the spines of its customers. PacifiCorp said it will likely limit repairs in Utah during outages, curb discretionary maintenance and consider curtailing electric service to customers because regulators have declined rate increase proposals.
Oregonians in the PacifiCorp service territory (the second largest utility in Oregon) are rightfully concerned about the direction their utility is heading, but this should not be a concern for members of the locally and member-owned Oregon Trail Electric Consumers Cooperative (OTECC).
In my 35 years working in the electric utility industry this is the first time I have ever seen a for profit utility react in this manner.
OTECC acknowledges that the electric utility industry is seeing a paradigm shift and everyone is preparing for higher costs. Change is certainly coming to the industry and utilities will need to find new and innovative ways to maintain a high level of service to their consumers, just as OTECC will do for its members.
As a result of changes in the way the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) provides power to its utilities, OTECC is closely examining its future power needs and rates. The difference between PacifiCorp and OTECC, however, is that OTECC is locally owned by its members and PacifiCorp is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company managed by Warren Buffet, and must report to shareholders from all corners of the globe. OTECC is non-profit and PacifiCorp is for profit.
The great thing about an electric cooperative like OTECC is that the members - the citizens in the service area - own the utility. The Board is elected by its members and shops at the same grocery store as everyone else. You can rest assured that the Board and staff at OTECC will do everything they can in the future to make certain the member-owners of OTECC continue to receive only the highest level of service.
Werner Buehler, general manager