Keeping Pace

Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association

February 2022

Volume 1, Issue 2

ORECA Hosts Virtual Gubernatorial Candidate Forums

On February 7, ORECA welcomed Republican Christine Drazan to their gubernatorial candidate forum. Drazan, a former House Republican leader, told co-op leaders that her top priorities as governor will be to restore a sense of normalcy to Oregonians after two years in a pandemic, ensure tax dollars are being used effectively for education, and allow local government to follow city ordinances when dealing with homelessness and community safety issues.

During the meeting Drazan spoke out against breaching the Lower Snake River Dams, "There is no future for Oregon if we are only dependent on wind and solar," said Drazan. "I am whole heartedly committed to keeping the dams."

Former Speaker of the House Tina Kotek joined Oregon's cooperative leaders during ORECA's candidate forum on February 15. As governor, Kotek said she would focus her efforts on fighting climate change, the housing crisis, and helping the state recover from the pandemic. When asked about her position on breaching the Lower Snake River Dams, she said, "I want to be sure whatever comes, it's a collaborative effort," noting that co-ops will be at the table during these discussions.

If elected, Kotek said she will reassess board and commission appointments. She plans to engage with community leaders to ensure representation. "The state should be helpful, not a barrier," Kotek said.

Oregon Co-ops Promote Childhood Literacy

In partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL), several electric cooperatives across the state are delivering the gift of literacy. “The first scholarship to our members,” is how Lea Hoover, Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative’s Senior Manager of Administration, refers to the free books provided each month to children ages 0-5 years, in Baker, Grant, Harney, and Union counties from the co-op and DPIL.

Read more about how electric co-ops are getting involved with DPIL in March’s ORECA Ruralite. 

From left: Roman Gillen, CPI Board Chairman Russ Sapp, and Billy Terry assess fire damage in the Santiam Canyon after wildfires devastated the area in 2020.

CPI Leaders Take the Stage at Wildfire Conference

In January, Consumers Power, Inc. CEO Roman Gillen and Operations Manager Billy Terry were featured panelists and presenters at NWPPA's conference titled, Wildfires: What Utilities Need to Know, held in Seattle. Gillen and Terry, who helped guide CPI through the devastating Beachie Creek fire in September 2020, shared their experience and lessons learned working with FEMA for reimbursement of losses and applying for FEMA wildfire mitigation funds.

White House Engages Northwest Public Power

on the Future of the Columbia River Basin

On February 22, Northwest public power leaders met with the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to discuss the ongoing controversies and litigation around the Columbia River Basin. Litigation on the operation of the Federal Columbia River System has been paused until July to allow stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the challenges throughout the region. ORECA Executive Director Ted Case spoke about the impacts breaching the Lower Snake River Dams will have on rural and frontier communities, and how those projects were critical to system reliability during the extreme weather events of 2021.

The meeting was coordinated by Public Power Council Executive Director Scott Simms, and Kurt Miller, Executive Director of Northwest RiverPartners. The CEQ stressed this meeting is the first in a series of engagement sessions among stakeholders. ORECA will continue to engage with the CEQ on this important issue.

Co-op Bookshelf: Authors

Among Us

Three talented Oregon co-op leaders have penned books for all types of readers. This month we highlight books from Coos-Curry Director Georgia Cockerham, who writes about foul play along the southern Oregon coast in Murder at Macklyn Cove. Former ORECA Statewide Manager Mark Glaess has written Aspire to Better, which describes the rich history of the rural electrification program and how cooperatives can make forward progress. Lane Electric Director Jack Billings uses his experience as a jurist and attorney in Bargains, a realistic, gritty crime drama.

Bargains and Murder at Macklyn Cove are available at Aspire to Better is available at

Case Discusses Co-op Issues with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

This month, ORECA Executive Director Ted Case had the opportunity to discuss issues such as wildfire resilience and federal hydropower with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. Case thanked Senator Wyden for funding in the infrastructure bill that will assist utilities in hardening their systems in wildfires. In addition, Case also stressed the importance of the Lower Snake River Dams to Oregon's clean energy future.

Betsy Johnson.jpeg

Seen Out and About

Lane Electric Director Ingrid Kessler and Janine Benner, Director of the Oregon Department of Energy, visited at the Eugene City Club, where Director Benner moderated a discussion about the future of nuclear energy.

Capital City


Perhaps the biggest political news this past week emerged from the campaign trail, as the Oregon Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Democrat Nicholas Kristof did not meet the state's three-year residency requirement, ending his campaign for governor. This leaves former Speaker Tina Kotek ((D-Portland) and Treasurer Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) as the leading candidates in the May Democratic primary.

The Oregon Legislature has only a few days left in its 35-day short session. ORECA continues to monitor bills and has provided testimony on the following:

HB 4092 - Establishes broadband governance for the state through the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council, among other provisions. The broadband expansion bill has advanced to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

HB 4141 - The Joint Committee on Transportation held a second public hearing on HB 4141, which establishes a timeline for the restriction of sales of petroleum diesel for use in motor vehicles and establishes a separate timeline for the restriction on purchase of petroleum diesel for use in motor vehicles by public bodies. The bill is scheduled for a work session the week of February 21.

HB 4058 - Directs the Oregon Health Authority to create a program to acquire and distribute air conditioners and air filters on an emergency basis. The bill passed unanimously through the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and has been referred to Ways and Means.

Cooperative Spotlight

Meet Joe Van Meter: ORECA

Vice President

Joe Van Meter is no stranger to electric co-ops. Having been a Salem Electric member since 1972, Van Meter joined the Salem Electric board in 2004. Since then, he has served the role of board member, board president, secretary treasurer, and is currently serving as vice president. Recently, Joe was elected as vice president of ORECA. “As vice president I hope to make my contribution in the steady, reliable representation ORECA has provided to Oregon co-ops," he said. "It is a privilege to serve with the many dedicated co-op leaders from throughout our State, and I look forward to seeing you all at the ORECA events this year!”

In Joe's spare time he enjoys spending time outdoors - camping, rafting, skiing, crabbing, and fishing with his wife Karen, three children, and eight grandchildren. "I have a passion for fishing Oregon rivers, bays, and lately out on the Big Pond," he said.

Halibut anyone? Joe Van Meter proudly shows off a halibut he caught fishing 20 miles outside of Newport.

Umatilla Recognized as Business Partner of the Year

Umatilla Electric Cooperative (UEC) was recognized as Business Partner of the Year by the 2021 Umatilla County Fair on January 29. "We can't thank our industry partners enough for their contributions to our local events," said Lisa McMeen, Vice President of Administration at UEC. "Our industry is far more than electricity, it's about taking care of our communities," she said.

In Memoriam: Curtis Short

Blachly-Lane Board of Director Curtis Short, 79, passed away January 28, 2022. Short, a resident of Junction City, was first elected to the Blachly-Lane board in April 2015 and was mid-way through his third term.

Blachly-Lane General Manager Greg Gardner said, "Those of us that knew Curtis will always remember him as a kind and gentle person, who kept his co-op's best interests in mind as he carried out his duties on the board. He will be truly missed." Short is also a former member of the ORECA board. "Curtis always had a ready smile, and his crafts were always an important part of our auctions," said ORECA Executive Director Ted Case. "We send our condolences to his family," he said.

Upcoming Events & ORECA Key Dates

March 6-9

NRECA PowerXchange

Nashville, TN

March 14

ORECA Candidate Forum


April 2-5

NRECA Director's Conference

Austin, TX

April 19

ORECA Board Meeting


April 19-20

RESAP Training

La Pine, Oregon

May 1-3

Legislative Conference

Washington D.C.

July 11-13

ORECA Mid-Year Meeting

Bend, OR

November 29 - December 1

ORECA Annual Meeting

Salem, OR

Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association

8565 SW Salish Lane Suite 130

Wilsonville, OR 97070