Opening the box isn’t exactly like opening a Christmas present, but there is still a sense of anticipation.
The scene is the opening day of the Oregon Legislative Assembly—a day of ceremonies, speeches and pledges of bipartisanship. For lobbyists, it is a day to go into the bowels of the Capitol with a pair of scissors and break open the box of 1,500 pre-filed bills and see what kind of hand we have been dealt.
While some of the bills are expected, there are always surprises. Historically, some of this surprise legislation can have enormous consequences on Oregon’s electric cooperatives. I must admit I have found some things in the stack that made me raise an eyebrow.
While we analyze the implications of legislation, Oregon’s electric cooperatives enter the Capitol and the six-month marathon session with an enviable record.
We are 95 percent emission free because of our reliance on the incredible Columbia River hydro system. Moreover, our energy-efficiency programs continue to pay dividends. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council indicated in December that the region—yet again—surpassed its conservation target.
Statistics aside, there is nothing like being tested that shows one’s measure. This winter has been especially brutal in rural Oregon, where ice-coated trees have laid waste to electric power lines as if we are in a war zone. In some cases, we have rebuilt the lines only for another storm to hit. But through the amazing fortitude of the co-op linemen, unsung employees and neighboring crews, we are back up and running. I have never been more proud of my members.
So let’s bring on the legislative session and all the boxes to come. We are prepared for any surprise.
But let’s go easy on the ice storms.