General Membership Questions
Philosophically, the cooperative is a family. In reality, just like a family, every action by one member has an impact on all the other members. As a member of a cooperative, you are not only a consumer but also an owner of the system. There are no faceless, far-away people making money off your electrical usage. We’re all in this together. Really.
Section 5 of the By-laws: It is expressly understood that amounts paid for electric energy in excess of the cost of service are furnished by members as capital and each member shall be credited with the capital so furnished as provided in these bylaws.
Each member shall make available to the Cooperative a suitable site, subject to approval by the Cooperative, whereon to place the Cooperative’s physical facilities for the furnishing and metering of electric service and shall permit the Cooperative’s authorized employees, agents and independent contractors to have access thereto for inspection, maintenance, replacement, relocation or repair thereof at all reasonable times.
As part of the consideration for such service, each member shall be the Cooperative’s bailee (a person or party to whom goods are delivered for a purpose, such as custody or repair, without transfer of ownership) of such facilities and shall accordingly desist from interfering with, impairing the operation of, or causing damage to such facilities, and shall use his best effort to prevent others from doing so.
Section 6 of the By-laws: Each member shall pay monthly, at rates which shall from time to time be fixed by the Board of Directors, for all electric energy purchased from the Cooperative. Each member shall pay to the Cooperative a minimum amount per month regardless of the amount of electric energy consumed, as shall be fixed by the Board of Directors from time to time. Each member shall also pay all amounts owed by him or it to the Cooperative as and when the same shall become due and payable.
By-laws and Service Rules & Regulations are available from the WOEC website:
Sources: What It Means to Be a Coop Member, Ruralite, January 2017 Ruralite Page 4
The Seven Cooperative Principles, Ruralite, February 2017, Page 4 https://www.westoregon.org/account/
Check your main electric box, circuit breakers and/or fuse box to make sure nothing has tripped. You don’t want to be billed for an expensive service call with a truck and two linemen if you’ve just blown a circuit breaker (Service Rules & Regulations, section 5.8). 2) Check with your neighbors if at all possible to see if they have power. 3) If it’s not your personal system, call the WOEC office. If everyone with an outage calls–even if the lines are busy, please keep calling—this helps the crews isolate where the actual problem is. Even if it’s not normal office hours, please call it in. Your call will be routed to an after-hours answering service that will forward your information to Dispatch. They will not be monitoring social media platforms to determine where the problem is, especially on weekends. In cases of long-term, extended outages, staff might be able to give information on the WOEC Facebook page.
What Happens When the Lights Go Out?, Ruralite, January 2019 Pages 4, page 32
Storms Can Bring Power to a Stop, Ruralite, March 2017 Page 4
An annual membership meeting is required by both our co-operative by-laws as well as by Oregon statutes covering corporation law. Approximately half the cost for the annual meeting is taken up by member notification and balloting. The rest is used for the event site, catering, and inducements for members to attend to create a quorum. This is when election results for the Board of Directors and/or any measures requiring a vote by the members are finally tallied, and the results are announced. The financial report for the previous year is given as well as updating on current projects. A Q & A period is also held.
WOEC has first generation–Gen 1–“smart meters”, the system known as Automated Meter Reading (AMR). These meters are like a one-way street with meter reading information sent only one way back to the office on a daily basis. Our current AMR system is outdated at twenty years of age.
The next Generation—Gen 2—is called Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and it can be compared to a two-way street. WOEC will upgrade to this system in the future. Currently they do have one-way information systems that send information back to WOEC, via Power Line Carrier technology that operates at 60 cycles per second, the same as the electricity coming into your house. There is no Radio Frequency transmission from your meter.
You can log into your Smarthub account and monitor your own usage. The co-op has no control over your electrical usage.
What It means To Be A Co-op Member, Ruralite January 2017, Page 4
Squirrels and trees are the biggest source of electrical outages, not just here but across the United States, so being proactive in preventative brush cutting and tree trimming is absolutely essential to keeping our system alive and limiting the number of/and duration of outages.
The reduction in duration of outages from 2,208 hours in 2014 down to 834 hours in 2016 tells the story of how critical stepped up right-of-way maintenance is. The consumer shall grant any necessary permission to enable the Cooperative to install and maintain its facilities on the premises of the consumer so as to serve the consumer and the utility system as a whole.
The Cooperative shall have the right through its employees, or other agents, to enter upon the premises of the consumer at all reasonable times for the purpose of reading, inspecting, maintaining, repairing, or removing the metering devices, wiring, or other facilities of the Cooperative and also for the purpose of tree trimming, right-of-way clearing and other vegetation management.
The Cooperative has a legal obligation concerning tree removal, tree trimming and right-of-way maintenance on all existing primary and secondary electrical facilities to maintain such facilities in accordance with the National Electric Safety Code, the Rules and Regulations of the Oregon Public Utility Commission and Rural Utilities Service requirements.
The Cooperative may, through its employees or other agents, enter the consumer’s property at reasonable times in order to undertake needed vegetation management work. The property owner agrees not to interfere with such activity. This means NO LOCKED GATES without giving WOEC a current key or combination to the lock for access.
Service Rules & Regulations 20.3
What It means To Be A Co-op Member, Ruralite January 2017, Page 4
OSHA does not allow for untrained personnel to be working within 10 feet of electrical power lines. This is no place for amateurs, and the professional tree cutting crews are unionized to maintain professional safety standards. It is not only safer for the properly trained and equipped workers, but reduces potential for damage to the system. It is not cost effective for WOEC to maintain its own tree cutting crews.
In 2017 burying electric lines cost 3 times as much as running them overhead from poles. It’s also more difficult and time consuming to isolate problems or breaks, and then to dig them up, repair them, and re-bury them especially in rugged terrain; typically, this takes place during an emergency and is paid out in overtime. For most of our grid, it makes more economic sense to keep the lines on poles, even though they are more vulnerable to trees falling and squirrels. Now when cables are undergrounded, they are run through conduit to help protect them from accidental damage and corrosion.