Keeping Pace

Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association

May 2022

Volume 1, Issue 5

Oregon Co-op Leaders Return to Capitol Hill

After a three-year hiatus, Oregon co-op leaders attended NRECA’s May Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. Representing Oregon’s electric cooperatives were Douglas Electric Director Shirley Cairns, Lane Electric Director and NRECA Board member J. Ingrid Kessler, Harney Electric General Manager Fred Flippence, and ORECA staff Ted Case and Britni Davidson.


In addition to meeting with key House staff and federal agencies, the group met with U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley on a range of topics important to co-op members -including the fate of the Lower Snake River Dams. ORECA also thanked the congressional delegation for their support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and direct pay tax incentives that would help co-ops promote energy innovation while keeping costs affordable for their members. 

Co-op leaders met with Senator Jeff Merkley to discuss issues impacting Oregon's electric cooperatives. 

Beacon Broadband Launches Internet Service to Bridge Digital Divide

The month, Coos-Curry Electric Co-op’s Beacon Broadband launched its new broadband network at a May 2nd ribbon cutting ceremony in Brookings, Oregon. “Beacon Broadband will bridge the digital divide that exists right here in rural Curry and Coos Counties,” said Beacon Broadband Board President Pete Radabaugh. “It will be a locally controlled asset to help bring economic, educational, and social vitality to the south coast for decades to come.”

When the fiber-to-the-home project is complete, broadband service will be available to approximately 19,000 homes and businesses in Coos and Curry Counties.

Top right: Coos-Curry Electric General Manager/CEO Brent Bischoff addresses the public at the Beacon Broadband ribbon cutting ceremony. 

Congressman Cliff Bentz serves on the House Natural Resources Committee. 

ORECA Meets with

Congressman Cliff Bentz

On May 10, ORECA met virtually with Congressman Cliff Bentz. Bentz, who represents 9 electric cooperatives in Oregon’s vast 2nd congressional district. Co-op leaders shared some of the challenges obtaining timely permits for activities on federal land that will improve system reliability and mitigate against wildfires. Congressman Bentz vowed to work with ORECA to expedite permits with federal land management agencies.

Co-op Communicators Shine at "Spotlight" Awards

Congratulations to Oregon co-ops who were recognized for their stellar communication programs at NRECA’s Connect Conference this month in Seattle. Umatilla Electric (UEC) took home the gold for best internal news publication for their employee newsletter, and best special publication in the classification one category for their “Public Safety Power Shutoff Fact Sheet.” UEC also took home a gold award for their annual report.


Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative received a gold award for their special publication: “Community Helping Community During COVID-19.” ORECA received a gold for best feature story – “Comeback in the Canyon” - Ted Case's story of CPI's efforts to restore areas devastated by the Beachie Creek fire.  

Seen Out and About

Midstate Electric General Manager Jim Anderson and Central Electric President/CEO Dave Markham met with Congressman Kurt Schrader in Bend to discuss wildfire mitigation efforts in central Oregon. 

Alec Shebiel, Umatilla Electric Government Relations Manager met with State Rep. Bobby Levy and her dogs in eastern Oregon. 

Co-op Annual Meeting Round Up

May was a busy month for Oregon co-op annual meetings. Five electric co-ops held meetings; Salem Electric held a virtual meeting, while Harney, Midstate, Lane, and Oregon Trail Electric met in-person.

Congratulations to the directors that were elected/re-elected at these meetings: Jan Bargen (Salem Electric), Tim Klarr (Salem Electric), Gary Miller (Harney Electric), Rod Hoagland (Harney Electric), John Ugalde (Harney Electric), Garry Journey (Midstate), Gil Ernst (Midstate), Joy Olgyay (Lane), Krissi Martes (Lane), Cory Miller (Oregon Trail), David Baum (Oregon Trail), and Charlene Chase (Oregon Trail). 


ORECA would like to thank the following outgoing board members for their service: Jack Billings (Lane), Hugh Buermann (Lane), Ron Sommerfeldt (Midstate), Gordon DeArmond (Midstate), Jerry Berger (Salem Electric), and Greg Howard (OTEC). 

Midstate General Manager Jim Anderson welcomed State Representative E. Werner Reschke to the Midstate annual meeting.

Harney Electric members were updated on public safety power shutoffs and supply chain issues by co-op General Manager Fred Flippence. 

Central Electric Hosts ORECA

Finance & Accounting Meeting

This month, 20 Oregon co-op employees participated in the ORECA Finance and Accounting Meeting which was held both virtually and in-person at Central Electric. The group received a variety of presentations and discussed several topics including capital credits, joint use, EV adoption, and best practices for processes and controls. A big thanks to Central Electric for hosting and Chris Krieck of Salem Electric for coordinating the meeting. 

Cooperative People 

Cris Pearson Retires from Douglas Electric 


After nearly 30 years at Douglas Electric Cooperative (DEC), Cris Pearson has decided to retire and relocate to Texas to be closer to her family. Cris spent most of her career as the Executive Assistant to the General Manager. ORECA and Douglas Co-op leaders thank Cris for her outstanding service.

Lane Electric Welcomes April Matson

Congratulations to April Matson who recently joined Lane Electric as Manager, Member & Public Relations. April spent the first part of her career in public relations and marketing agencies working in a variety of industries, including food, tourism, art, paid family and medical leave adoption, and tech. Most recently she was Director of Marketing at Museum of Glass in Tacoma, where she oversaw internal and external outreach.


In her spare time April enjoys all things outdoors and is looking forward to finding new adventures on the rivers, lakes, and trails of Oregon.

ORECA Welcomes Susan Knudsen Obermeyer to the Board

With the recent retirement of Lane Electric Director Jack Billings, Susan Knudsen Obermeyer has been appointed to represent Lane on the ORECA board. Welcome Susan!

Board Member Profile 

Meet OTEC's Wayne Overton

Wayne Overton has been plugged into the world of honest, demanding work since he was a child. Growing up in rural eastern Oregon, he helped on his family’s cattle ranch until he graduated high school and began his construction career. Over the past 40 years Wayne has built commercial and industrial buildings, and custom homes in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, California, and Texas.

In 2015, he took his work ethic into the world of electric co-ops when he joined the Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative board. Since then, he has served the role of board member, secretary-treasurer, board vice president, and currently serves as board president. In the last two years, Wayne was elected to serve on the board of ORECA. “It is a privilege to serve with the many dedicated and diligent co-op leaders and stakeholders from around the state and I enjoy every moment that I get to serve cooperative members and the rural way of life,” he said.

In his spare time, Wayne enjoys raising cattle, hunting, restoring old farm tractors with his father, and spending time with his kids and grandchildren. 

Upcoming Events & ORECA Key Dates

June 18-24

NRECA Youth Tour

Washington D.C.

July 12-14

ORECA Mid-Year Meeting

Bend, OR

September 27-29

Regions 7 & 9 Meeting

Portland, OR

October 13 - Tentative

ORECA Board Meeting

Salem, OR 

November 29 - December 1

ORECA Annual Meeting

Salem, OR

Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association

8565 SW Salish Lane Suite 130

Wilsonville, OR 97070