Inside Ruralite

Misery and Miracles

As communities in rural Oregon grapple with unimaginable tragedy from deadly wildfires, electric co-ops band together to restore power—and hope. By Ted Case On the evening of Monday, September 7, 2020, the power went out at the home of Steve and Kathy Keable, who live in the town of Blue River, in the McKenzie River […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — October 2020

We had to decide what to take. But the real question was, “What do we really need?” Evacuating our home was not something I had ever contemplated. Fires burned throughout Western Oregon, and several small towns served by Oregon’s electric cooperatives were incinerated, fanned by easterly winds during Labor Day weekend. But we do not […]

Inside Ruralite

Utility Leaders: Dams Help Protect Most Vulnerable Oregonians

By Ted Case In a virtual meeting with Oregon’s governor, utility leaders put a human face on those who benefit from Lower Snake River dams On July 29, eight consumer-owned utility leaders met via Zoom with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and her key natural resource and energy staff regarding operation of the Federal Columbia River […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — September 2020

I thought for sure Gov. Kate Brown’s staff would cancel our meeting. She is, after all, an exceptionally busy leader dealing with multiple crises: COVID-19, budget shortfalls, and tense confrontations in downtown Portland that captured the attention of the nation. On this day in late July, she was also in a bitter and very public […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — August 2020

There are countless differing perspectives about the coronavirus epidemic, but hopefully we all agree the loss of life is tragic, wherever it occurs. We are learning the extended electric co-op family is not immune to the pandemic. Last month, a sibling of an Oregon electric co-op director died of COVID-19—one of, at this writing, 140,157 […]

Inside Ruralite

OTEC Uses Virtual Reality to Bring Eastern Oregon to the World

By Lisa Jacoby Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative in Baker City continues to use the newest technology to educate communities on how to safely coexist with power lines. OTEC has finished seven virtual reality videos. Two are focused on safety. The first educates viewers on the proper procedures in case of a downed power line, such […]

Inside Ruralite

Back to Business — But Never Shutting Down

Oregon’s electric co-ops are transitioning open, but with a new look focused on safety By Ted Case Photos by Bailey Anderson To say Oregon’s electric co-ops are transitioning back to business is a bit of a misnomer. They never actually closed. Yes, many employees worked from home, but the business of running an electric utility […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — July 2020

I took a call from National Public Radio the other day, which I concede is not a regular occurrence. The reporter, who was familiar with electric co-ops, was interested in what Congress and the president could do to meet the moment on energy issues, much as they had done in 1936 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt […]

Inside Ruralite

Meeting the Moment

Oregon electric co-ops take extraordinary steps to help their members in extraordinary times The first in a series on how Oregon electric co-ops are helping their members through the global pandemic. By Ted Case Electric co-ops know this is not business as usual. Extreme unemployment, shuttered businesses and school cancellations brought on by the coronavirus […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — June 2020

OK, I was wrong. A few months ago, we published my column expressing hope that I would soon be writing about some topic other than the coronavirus. I wish I could write about “The Last Dance”—the stellar 10-part documentary about Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player who ever lived. But that would be ignoring what […]

Inside Ruralite

Three Days of the Coronavirus

As the coronavirus swept though the state, three crucial days in March demonstrated the role Oregon’s electric cooperatives play in the lives of their consumers. By Ted Case On March 20, 2020, there were 114 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oregon. While the cases were mostly clustered in the Portland metro area, Oregon’s 18 rural […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — May 2020

I run the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association under the watchful eye of Charlton Heston. He’s glaring down in my new home office from the poster of 1973’s The Omega Man— one of my all-time favorite movies. Heston plays a scientist who believes he is the last man on Earth after a virus wipes out […]

Inside Ruralite

The Preferred Approach: No Dam Breaching

A government study concludes: Snake River dam breaching would harm Northwest families, electric grid reliability and the global environment The Columbia River System Operations Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released February 28—a dense 5,000- page document with a remarkably clear message: Breaching the lower Snake River dams would have an adverse impact on Northwest families, […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — April 2020

This is the last column I ever wanted to write. I’d rather use this space to write about anything else related to electric co-ops: what we are doing for our communities, such as providing affordable, reliable, emission-free power or money-saving energy-efficiency programs. Or broadband, economic development and scholarships. I’d rather write about anything other than […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — March 2020

Oregon’s electric cooperative leaders are some of the friendliest people I have encountered. They are reasonable, courteous to a fault and slow to anger. It takes a lot to rile them up— things such as, well, taking away their clean, affordable power supply. Amazingly, that’s been proposed. We are extremely disappointed with Gov. Kate Brown’s […]

Inside Ruralite

Anatomy of a Hearing: The Power of a Single Pole

Dave Markham’s testimony on wildfire mitigation helped establish America’s electric cooperatives as the anti-PG&E. By Ted Case The title of the January 28 hearing was enough to give Dave Markham, CEO of Central Electric Cooperative, pause: “Out of Control: The Impact of Wildfires on Our Power Sector and the Environment.” The witness list before the […]

Inside Ruralite

Working Hard for Wasco—and ORECA

Wasco Electric’s Bob Durham is adding another job to an already heavy workload: president of the ORECA Board of Directors. Bob Durham is a man on the move. Like many rural leaders, Durham, a director for Wasco Electric Cooperative, has deep roots in his community and stacks up volunteer opportunities like the hay on his […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — February 2020

Don’t blink. The Oregon Legislature convenes this month, and there are some large questions to be answered. Unlike the odd-year slog of a session that feels like a marathon on a hilly course in the rain, the 35-day short session is more akin to watching Usain Bolt run 100 meters. It’s a blur of motion. […]

Inside Ruralite

Where Does Your Power Come From?

By Paul Wesslund We depend on electricity 24/7, but have you ever wondered how it’s made, or where it comes from? To understand the basics of something so important to modern life, think about steam from a teakettle and those magnets stuck to your refrigerator door. Magnetic metals in nature attract each other because parts […]

Inside Ruralite

ORECA’s Guatemala Project

Prelude to Power: On the Cusp of a New Way of Life Oregon electric co-ops prepare to bring electricity to the Guatemalan village of Aldea Montañita de la Virgen in spring 2020. By Ted Case In November 2019, a planning team led by Roger Meader, the project leader for the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — January 2020

It was a good way to end the year. In 2019, I used this page several times to advocate for passage of the Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands Act (S. 1032/H.R. 2147), which ensures co-ops do not jeopardize their tax-exempt status when they accept government grants. As of this writing, the RURAL Act was […]

Inside Ruralite

A Wave of Oregon Electric Leaders

ORECA’s 2019 annual meeting highlighted the importance of passing the RURAL Act, while honoring those who kept Americans free. The Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association held its 77th annual meeting by exploring global energy issues, breaking down partisan barriers and honoring those who fought to defeat tyranny on D-Day 75 years ago. The meeting also […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — December 2019

We packed a lot into the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association annual meeting last month. We had excellent presentations from energy experts, legislators, pollsters and even Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno. Perhaps the most important item on our agenda was honoring three co-op leaders for careers of outstanding achievement: West Oregon Electric Cooperative former […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — November 2019

One of the most challenging things about planning an Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association annual meeting is not what content to include in our brief time together. It’s deciding what I have to leave out because of time constraints. The issues have proliferated since I got in this business nearly 25 years ago. We could […]

Inside Ruralite

Getting Ahead of the Blaze

As the Oregon Legislature considers wildfire mitigation measures, Oregon electric co-ops are implementing plans to protect their communities By Ted Case For Billy Terry, director of operations at Philomath-based Consumers Power Inc., wildfire is not just something that worries him as he oversees the co-op’s vast utility infrastructure crossing forestland. It’s something that keeps him […]

Inside Ruralite

Thinking Big, Staying Local

Bev Clarno adds secretary of state to her distinguished resumé of public service By Courtney Cobb Deschutes County commissioner, Oregon state representative, speaker of the House, state senator, regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Central Electric Cooperative board director: Bev Clarno has held each of these positions with distinction […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — October 2019

The other day, I looked up from my computer at work and observed a group of deer right outside my window looking at me. It was surprising because the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association office isn’t exactly in the woods. In fact, we are a block away from a Maserati dealership, which means our 35-mph […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — September 2019

I am not what you would call a daredevil. Sure, I like adventure as much as the next guy, but it’s more along the lines of a rigorous hike than free-soloing rock walls in a national park. So this summer, when my 14-year-old daughter suggested we go zip lining during our vacation in Moab, Utah, […]

Inside Ruralite

Bringing Solar to Salem

Salem Electric’s photovoltaic program provides incentives for members who want to take control of their energy future By Ted Case On August 21, 2017, the area around Salem was a prime viewing spot for a total solar eclipse that captivated the thousands of visitors who flocked to Oregon’s capital and looked to the sky. The […]

Inside Ruralite

A Little Bit of Everything

ORECA’s midyear meeting in Bend offered a variety of speakers, including an inspiring address by NRECA President Curtis Wynn and a call for preparedness by OEM Director Andrew Phelps By Ted Case As one participant said, there was “a little bit of everything” at the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s July midyear meeting in Bend. […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — August 2019

The story is familiar: Forests are burning and oceans are rising because of climate change. Something needed to be done. The solution? Cap-and-trade legislation that could be passed with large Democratic majorities. The bill was the subject of countless hearings, dragging on for months and stuffed full of complex provisions for various specials interests—including ours. […]

Inside Ruralite

The RURAL Act to the Rescue

Legislation to protect electric co-op’s tax-exempt status is pending in the U.S. Congress, but it needs a push. Oregon’s electric cooperatives may soon face their own version of a Hobson’s choice. Do they accept Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance after their system has been leveled by a storm? Do they accept broadband grants to serve […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — July 2019

What is that on the cover of our magazine? A graphic of a U.S. Senate bill? We have a tradition of putting extraordinary people on our cover, such as electric co-op leaders and legislators, but S. 1032—the RURAL Act—is no run-of-the-mill piece of legislation. The RURAL Act allows co-ops to receive grants for a host […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — June 2019

Recently, I drove 3½ hours to attend an annual meeting of one of my electric cooperative members. It was a long day for me, but that distance is no big deal for rural Oregonians—usually just another trip to the regional hospital or even an outing to shop for common household goods. Life is hard for […]

Inside Ruralite

Masters of Disaster

Oregon electric co-op leaders travel to Capitol Hill seeking disaster aid for storm damage— as well as relief from policies that could have disastrous consequences for their members By Ted Case The largest group from Oregon electric co-ops ever to attend the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association legislative conference traveled to Washington, D.C., in early […]

Inside Ruralite

ORECA Legislative Day 2019

Electric co-op leaders traveled to Salem amidst a flurry of legislative action. They were also honored for their work restoring power after devastating winter storms. More than 60 Oregon electric cooperative leaders descended upon the state Capitol in March, coming at a time when the Legislature was embroiled in a spirited debate on cap-and-trade proposal […]

Case in Point

Case in Point—May 2019

My middle-school-age daughter is studying government, and it’s been a bit humbling. She is a smart girl, and I’ve looked at her homework. It is apparent she knows more about the Founding Fathers and our Constitution than I do—which is hard to admit, as I lived in Washington, D.C., for two decades. There is one […]

Inside Ruralite

An Initiative to Work Safely

By Pam Blair Nearly two decades ago, Northfork Electric Cooperative’s Heath Martin survived a 7,200-volt shock on the job. He admits the accident was his fault. Heath and his co-worker, Chad Crompton, had worked all night, then were called to a routine outage. Heath says he was thinking about an upcoming fishing trip with his […]

Inside Ruralite

May Is Electrical Safety Month

Be aware of your surroundings and don’t get complacent near power lines Each year, nearly 400 people die from electrical accidents in the U.S. There are more than 51,000 home structure fires caused by electrical faults that claim another 500 lives. Electricity is important in our daily lives. Our homes and workplaces are filled with […]

Inside Ruralite

“I’m not upset with the power company. They’re heroes.”

Two Oregon electric co-ops took a heavy blow this winter, but picked themselves up with true grit, a relentless spirit, constant communication and a lot of help By Ted Case In late February, a weekend snowstorm walloped Douglas and Lane counties, nearly leveling the infrastructure of two electric cooperatives that serve those areas. The significant […]

Case in Point

Case in Point—April 2019

As evidenced by our feature story this month, this winter tested the strength of the Oregon rural electric program like I have not seen before, at least for two western Oregon cooperatives: Douglas Electric and Lane Electric. Our brethren in the Southeast batten down the hatches every hurricane season, but we rarely see Mother Nature […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — March 2019

There will be plenty to talk about. That is my message to the scores of electric cooperative leaders who will descend upon Salem this month for ORECA’s Legislative Day. Electric co-op managers, directors and employees will travel from the Oregon Coast, high desert, Columbia Gorge and everything in between to meet with their representatives and […]

Inside Ruralite

A Local Perspective on Carbon Legislation

Two rising stars in the Oregon Legislature bring different perspectives to climate policy, but share backgrounds in local government and a deep connection to their districts By Ted Case State Reps. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) and David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford) are affiliated with different political parties, serve vastly different constituencies and are on opposite sides […]

Inside Ruralite

Lighting Up Latin America

Oregon electric cooperatives return to their roots and prepare to bring light to people who only dream of electricity By Ted Case Eighty years ago, many rural areas in Oregon were in darkness, the citizens only brought out of a life of drudgery and hardship by determined electric cooperative leaders who planted poles and strung […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — February 2019

Any organization is smart to look ahead, but occasionally you also need to return to your roots. In January, the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association Board of Directors undertook a strategic planning session to look at the association’s future. ORECA is involved in a wide range of activities: legislative and regulatory advocacy, education and training, […]

Inside Ruralite

Defending Our Members: The Miracle of Electric Cooperatives

Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s 76th annual meeting had a bit of everything for the nearly 200 attendees who met in the Salem Convention Center November 28-29. There were expert speakers on disaster preparedness, talk of the future of the Northwest electric utility industry and the secret to providing outstanding customer service. Attendees also learned […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — January 2019

Well, that went fast. It was 10 years ago last month that the Cases rolled into Oregon from Washington, D.C., during one of the most historic blizzards to ever hit Portland—a welcome mat with 3 feet of snow on it. At the time, our kids were small and wildly talkative. They are no longer small […]

Case in Point

Case in Point — December 2018

Last month, I had the opportunity to interview former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at a post-election forum sponsored by the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation. As fate had it, Speaker Gingrich had been with President Donald Trump at a White House election-night watch party. He reported the president was ebullient as the results came […]

Inside Ruralite

The 2018 Election and Oregon’s Electric Cooperatives

While November’s blue wave solidified an urban stranglehold on policy and politics in Salem, it also shifted the center of power in our nation’s capital By Ted Case Last month’s landmark election will certainly have ramifications for electric cooperatives and their consumers—it may just take about seven months to determine exactly how much. That timeline […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – November 2018

“Who do you have coming this year?” It’s a question I get quite often from my members around annual meeting time. It’s the 10th year I have planned ORECA’s annual meeting. I can say it’s one of the great joys of this job to put together what is hopefully an informative, educational and inspirational program […]

Inside Ruralite

Setting the Facts Straight On Salmon, Orcas and Dams

In October, federal experts recommended that facts and science—not emotion around dam breaching—guide the recovery of southern resident killer whales By Ted Case The heartbreaking images from the Puget Sound spread across the world. A female southern resident killer whale who lost her newborn kept its body afloat for more than two weeks in what […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – October 2018

My family and I are big fans of the Mission Impossible movies and Impossible Missions Force agent Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise. The action is over the top, and the characters larger than life. Hunt was described in one movie as “uniquely trained and highly motivated. A specialist without equal.” Let’s be truthful. Even […]

Inside Ruralite

A Summer of Fire

The worst fire season in Wasco County history takes a financial and emotional toll By Drew Myron Wildfire made history this summer, though it’s a record no one wants to celebrate or repeat. One after another, fires raced across Wasco and Sherman counties, burning hot and fast, moving miles in minutes with a force that […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – September 2018

Summer is winding down, and school is in session for my kids. Thank goodness. No longer will I have to wither under 90-degree heat or hear the phrases, “I’m bored” and “I don’t have anything to do.” Without a doubt, I am much more excited about the prospect of math and science homework than my […]

Inside Ruralite

Capping Off a Busy Legislative Year

The legislature’s Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction is crafting a bill to help meet the state’s carbon goals. The state of Oregon’s policy toward hydropower is undermining its efforts. Most members of the Oregon Legislative Assembly received a brief respite from the demands of the Capitol following the dead sprint that is the legislature’s so-called […]

Inside Ruralite

‘We Proved Them Wrong Once Before’

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai traveled to the Northwest to learn how Oregon electric cooperatives bridge the digital divide for their members By Ted Case In June 2018, Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, met with Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, to discuss efforts to deploy broadband in unserved […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – August 2018

The other day, I met Amelia Earhart. OK, not the Amelia Earhart, the legendary aviator who disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937. But I did meet Amelia Rose Earhart who, while not related to her namesake, shares her fascination with flying and proved it in 2014 by piloting a single-engine airplane around the globe. […]

Inside Ruralite

Taking Charge in Rural Oregon

Midstate Electric and other co-ops have embraced electric vehicles, but the state of Oregon’s divisive spill program is undermining potential carbon reductions By Ted Case In November 2017, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order calling for a statewide goal of 50,000 or more electric vehicles (EVs) by 2020. Midstate Electric Cooperative, headquartered in […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – July 2018

One of the highlights of my summer is ORECA’s mid-year meeting in July. As part of the meeting, my board of directors and I will convene to discuss important legislative and regulatory issues before the association. This year, we’re going to discuss another initiative that has the potential to be transcendent in more ways than […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – June 2018

It’s not easy to pass a new law. I have watched countless bills be introduced and then fail to get a congressional hearing, much less a vote, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. That is why House passage in April of H.R. 3144—a bill to take a timeout from the ill-fated plan […]

Inside Ruralite

Someone Who Gets Things Done

Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader is not only playing a key role for electric co-op consumers, he is on a bipartisan roll on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. In a Congress cleaved by partisanship and gridlock, Democratic U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader legislates from a seemingly bygone era. By shedding labels and staking out […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – May 2018

I had to admit to a little nostalgia, even though the ornate U.S. House of Representatives committee room largely represented a history of professional defeat. As the chandeliers sparkled and the portraits of past committee chairmen appeared to stare down at me, it occurred to me that I had been on the losing end of […]

Inside Ruralite

36 Hours on Capitol Hill

Twenty-four Oregon electric cooperative leaders participated in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s annual Legislative Conference April 10-11. The group met with Oregon’s congressional delegation and key House and Senate committee staff. The following photos tell some of the story of their journey to the nation’s capital. Clockwise from above: Oregon co-op leaders discussed a […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – April 2018

It was right under my nose—or rather, in my mailbox—the whole time. When we moved from the Washington, D.C., area to Wilsonville, our children were signed up by the local Kiwanis club to receive a free book a month through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The legendary country singer is a believer in childhood literacy […]

Inside Ruralite

Bringing Books to Cooperative Territory

OTEC helps introduce Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Eastern Oregon By Lisa Jacoby Since the beginning of the year, several Oregon electric cooperatives have established relationships with local organizations and library districts to help disseminate books to children from birth to age 5 through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative helped blaze […]

Inside Ruralite

Capping Off a Frenzied Legislative Session

Carbon legislation took a high-profile role in the Oregon legislative session, but ORECA’s leader testifies that the state’s carbon policies are far from aligned Sen. Michael Dembrow and Rep. Ken Helm, chief sponsors of legislation to put a price on carbon in the state of Oregon, had no time to waste. Even with the support […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – March 2018

How’s it going to end? As a former fiction writer, that’s the question I wanted my readers to be asking, breathlessly turning pages to reach the conclusion. There is nothing like a good thriller to keep you up late into the night, and thrillers come in all forms. The Oregon Legislature has created some suspense […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – February 2018

For the past few months, the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association has worked collaboratively with the Oregon Legislature’s Clean Energy Jobs Utilities and Transportation Work Group to address our initial concerns with its cap-and-trade legislation, particularly with respect to the ability of electric cooperatives to comply as regulated entities under a state cap-and-trade program. We […]

Inside Ruralite

New Faces, Big Issues and a Ticking Clock

Major legislation or just legislative tweaks? The question will soon be answered as the 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly convenes with some new leaders, new faces and a looming deadline. The 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly convenes February 5 with some new players, a host of big issues and, as with any 35-day session, a ticking clock. […]

Inside Ruralite

Seventy-Five Years and Going Strong

With the theme “Our Past, Our Future, Our People,” the ORECA annual meeting went heavy on the latter category by recognizing those who keep the association vital Oregon electric cooperative leaders gathered in Salem on November 30 to celebrate the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s 75th anniversary and to honor leaders who are part of […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – January 2018

The Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association wrapped up the year by celebrating its 75th anniversary at the annual meeting in Salem in November. The theme was “Our Past, Our Future, Our People.” We managed to hit all those topics with a variety of excellent speakers highlighting not only the legacy of the Columbia River hydro […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – December 2017

In November, legislative work groups in Salem concluded their efforts to write a cap-and-trade bill for the 2018 short session. Conceived by state Sen. Mike Dembrow—chairman of the Senate Energy Committee—and his counterpart in the House, state Rep. Ken Helm, the ambitious Clean Energy Jobs work group process explored the wide range of issues around […]

Inside Ruralite

Transfer of Power

Two high-ranking Oregon senators join the influential Northwest Power and Conservation Council The Northwest Power and Conservation Council was created nearly four decades ago with the passage of the Northwest Power Act in 1980. The eight-member council is comprised of two appointed members from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Operating largely out of the limelight, […]

Inside Ruralite

Seventy-Five Is a Good Number

A former ORECA executive manager tells the organization’s story as it reaches a milestone anniversary By Mark Glaess Years ago, astronaut Allan Bean told an audience of electric cooperative directors and senior management that sending a man to the moon—in this case, himself— took the entirety of NASA, some 10,000 employees. If one of them […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – November 2017

ORECA turned 75 years old this year—a landmark we will celebrate this month at our annual meeting. In preparation for the celebration, I came across photos of our founders— stoic, ramrod straight and full of resolve. I do not know their stories, but from their photos I can tell for certain they are men of […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – October 2017

“It seems like the apocalypse is upon us.” A friend of mine made that observation in early September as what seemed like every conceivable natural— and manmade—disaster ravaged the United States. While Oregonians watched in horror as Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Houston, and Hurricane Irma waited in the wings to flatten the southeastern United […]

Inside Ruralite, Legislative Advocacy

Power Meets Power

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry gets a close-up view of the Columbia River system, and gives his perspective on America’s energy future By Ted Case McNary Dam, in Northeastern Oregon on the Columbia River, is not as famous as Grand Coulee Dam or other iconic projects that help propel the Pacific Northwest economy. Tucked away […]

Inside Ruralite

ORECA Midyear Meeting 2017

Co-op leaders met in Hood River as political winds blow toward carbon legislation As the Oregon Legislative Assembly departed Salem, Oregon’s electric cooperative leaders wasted no time debriefing on the marathon session. The group met in Hood River for the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s midyear meeting July 12-13. In his report to the ORECA […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – September 2017

How do you tell the secretary of energy that his policy on the sale of the power marketing administrations is misguided and punitive? I was faced with that question recently after I was asked to participate in a roundtable with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and a small group of stakeholders at McNary Dam in […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – August 2017

What happened in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 21, 2017, reminds me of Shirley Povich’s classic lead paragraph in the Washington Post after game five of the 1956 World Series: “The million-to-one shot came in. Hell froze over. A month of Sundays hit the calendar.” Povich was, of course, writing about one of […]

Inside Ruralite

Salmon Success Story

July 6, 2017 Governor Kate Brown State Capitol Building 900 Court Street NE, 160 Salem, OR 97301 Dear Governor Brown: As leaders of Oregon’s consumer-owned utilities, we are writing in the spirit of collaboration to urge the state of Oregon to constructively participate with the rest of the region on the operation of the Federal […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – July 2017

I have a few random thoughts as we pass the halfway point of the year, the Oregon Legislature wraps up and the U.S. Congress heats up. The Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association greatly appreciates the support of the Oregon Legislature this session, particularly those lawmakers who supported our efforts to convince Gov. Kate Brown to […]

Inside Ruralite

Auctioning Off Your Power

The sale of BPA’s transmission system is not a new idea—but still a bad one By Ted Case The Proposal Summary documents of the president’s proposal show almost $5 billion attributed to the sale of the BPA transmission system. The sale would take place between 2018 and 2027, with $1.8 billion of the amount collected […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – June 2017

The word seems to be getting out. Recently, a bipartisan group of Oregon legislators wrote Gov. Kate Brown urging her to “constructively participate with regional partners on the operation of the federal Columbia River system.” It is a long-overdue request. For years, the state of Oregon has been an outlier when it comes to the […]

Inside Ruralite

Charging up the Hill (Capitol Hill, that is)

Oregon co-op leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., as the Trump administration crossed its 100-day threshold with a strong focus on energy issues By Ted Case Emerging from a side doorway of a Washington, D.C., hotel ballroom, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry had an uncertain fate April 24, 2017, as he prepared to speak to a […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – May 2017

There are not a lot of new ideas coming out of Washington, D.C., but there are a lot of dumb old ones. I have been in this business long enough to recall the arguments of the Heritage Foundation to sell off the federal hydropower system to help reduce the deficit. This idea goes all the […]

Inside Ruralite

A Blueprint for a Better Oregon

Rep. Mark Johnson brings a builder’s sensibility—and political savvy—to the Oregon Legislature By Ted Case Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) is not a man to cut corners. Measuring twice and cutting once is good business for someone who has been a successful general contractor in Hood River County for three decades. Constructing a durable home […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – April 2017

No one can say electric cooperative leaders don’t have heart. We are only a few weeks removed from ORECA’s Legislative Day in Salem, and I want to take this opportunity to thank co-op leaders and legislators for a memorable two days. I am always impressed with the dedication of the Oregon co-op leaders who participate […]

Inside Ruralite

Electric Co-ops Are in the House and Senate

Oregon electric cooperative leaders take to the state Capitol in defense of federal hydropower By Ted Case Rep. Caddy McKeown (D Coos Bay) kicked off the ORECA 2017 Legislative Day program March 15 with the keynote address on an issue that links all Oregonians: transportation. McKeown, whose coastal district is served by two electric cooperatives—Douglas […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – March 2017

Oregon electric cooperative leaders will descend upon the state Capitol this month to promote common-sense policies that allow us to provide our members with reliable, affordable and safe electricity. It is the most important day of the entire session for Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association members. Bashing politicians is a cottage industry, but most who […]

Inside Ruralite

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Legislator

State Representative (and Colonel) Gene Whisnant and his wife, Josie,have lived a life worthy of a John le Carré novel. By Ted Case State Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver), a decorated colonel and former diplomat, has had a long, distinguished career working in some of the most perilous work environments imaginable: the Pentagon; Da Nang, Vietnam; […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – February 2017

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 […]

Inside Ruralite

Getting Out the Facts

The federal government’s NEPA process provides an opportunity to clear up misconceptions about the Northwest hydro system By Ted Case In a cavernous Portland Convention Center ballroom lined with federal officials who operate the Columbia River Basin dams, the most important person in the room may be a stenographer. The December 7, 2016, meeting was […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – January 2017

One of my favorite holiday events each year is our annual co-op lunch in Salem with our state legislators. It’s a bit of a hybrid event, a celebration of Oregon’s co-ops— electric, telecommunications, credit unions and agriculture— and a thank you for legislators who work hard for their constituents. There is much to like about […]

Inside Ruralite

Rural Oregon Back in the Spotlight

Electric co-op leaders explore a changing industry, as well as grapple with a contentious election and an uncertain legislative session In December, Oregon rural electric cooperative leaders met in Salem to discuss trends in rural Oregon and in the electric utility industry, as well as to honor those who made an invaluable contribution to the […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – December 2016

It has been a long time since I’ve seen so many stories on rural America—about four years. It seems that during every presidential election, there is a flurry of coverage about the all-important rural vote. This year it was particularly true with headlines such as, “Revenge of the Rural Voter” spawning deep analysis of what […]

Inside Ruralite

“We Need to Rise Above It”

In a tumultuous political era, National Rural Electric Cooperative CEO Jim Matheson brings a proven track record of bipartisan credentials to his new role By Ted Case “If you’ve met one coop,” says Jim Matheson, “you’ve met one coop.” Matheson, who took over as CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association this summer, made […]

Case in Point

Case in Point – November 2016

Not one of the several hundred attendees of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Region 7 and 9 ACRE breakfast in October believed anything extraordinary was going to happen. For those who are veterans of such meetings, the hour was expected to consist of bacon, eggs and a litany of state reports on progress with […]

Inside Ruralite

Leading by Example

State Rep. Sherrie Sprenger and Consumers Power CEO Roman Gillen are powerful voices for rural Oregon—while rarely raising their voices By Ted Case State Rep. Sherrie Sprenger (R Scio) and Roman Gillen, CEO of Consumers Power Inc., have much in common. Both leaders are relentless advocates of a prosperous rural economy, each possessing a laser […]