Author Anthony J. D’Angelo noted that, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”

To a large degree, this reflects Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative’s philosophy toward our member-owners and the broader service territory that we serve. As a cooperative, we have a different “bottom line.” While our priority is always to provide reliable and safe energy, there is another equally important part of this equation. Your well-being and that of the larger community that we serve are of paramount concern.

To us, you are not just a customer; you are a member of our co-op, and without you, we would not exist.

In 1989, Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative was founded to fulfill a vital need in our community that would not have otherwise been met. Concerned local leaders came together to build this co-op and bring electricity where there was none.

At that time, members of the community understood we were different because they likely knew someone who helped to create OTEC. For most people, our founding and its circumstances have been long forgotten. Over time, folks in the community may have come to think of us as simply another energy provider. However, OTEC strives to be more than that. We are a co-op that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of our members and the communities we serve. We are able to do this because of members like you.

Since our inception, we have sought feedback and engagement from you and that of the larger community to guide our long-term decisions. This is why we hold annual meetings and other events, such as town meetings, and attend local chamber and other business meetings in each of our communities throughout the year. We host events like this to engage with you and obtain your feedback.

We are always looking to find new ways to help you use energy more efficiently, whether that’s home or business energy audits, or offering you rebates to purchase energy efficient appliances and do so locally or flexible payment options like levelized billing. In short, we are always seeking to keep pace with the changing energy environment, evolving technology and shifting consumer expectations.

As a local business, we have a stake in the community. That’s why we support local charitable organizations such as United Way of Eastern Oregon, Soroptimists, Lions Club and Rotary, and through our donation programs like Member to Member. When you support these efforts, you are supporting the community and making it a better place for everyone.

Another role for OTEC is engaging the membership. One of the ways the cooperative strives to accomplish this goal is through the OTEC website, which is undergoing a major overhaul, both in look and in name. Formerly otecc.com, the new website will be found at otec.coop. While changing names, its mission remains the same: provide useful information and tools to help our member-owners. More than ever before we want to differentiate the work and achievements of your electric cooperative from others in the social media world.

The relationship you have with your cooperative is special and one no other electric utility can offer. As a member of an electric cooperative, you are far more than just a customer. You are a member and an owner. You belong. You are part of making a difference.

While the times may have changed, our mission and outlook have not. We view our role as a catalyst for sustaining and growing our communities. Working together, we can accomplish great things for our community now and in the future.

Andrew Cutler is the manager of communications and public relations for Oregon Trail

Electric Cooperative.

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