A Year of CEC Highlights

CEO Dave MarkhamDuring another year in the grip of COVID-19, Central Electric Cooperative experienced challenges and successes worth highlighting.

When the first case of COVID-19 showed up in Central Oregon, CEC prioritized members’ and employees’ safety by continuously adapting and implementing new business practices. I am proud of our employees and their ability to adjust to the changing business environment while maintaining the service levels our members expect.

While these practices seem to be the new norm, this year brought the pandemic’s cascading effects into focus. Like most businesses, we dealt with significant supply-chain delays and shortages in contract labor, but employees found creative solutions to the challenges to minimize the impacts to members.

An early wildfire season started with the 6,000-acre Grandview Fire northeast of Sisters. CEC stood ready, having developed and finalized a Public Safety Power Shutoff plan earlier in the year as part of its wildfire mitigation plan. Thankfully, we did not need to execute it.

Our wildfire mitigation protocols required using more sensitive settings on-field equipment in high-risk wildfire areas during the fire season, resulting in a greater number of power outages and for longer periods. Line personnel had to visually inspect entire sections of power lines before reenergizing to ensure nothing was in the power line to start a fire. The trade-off helped ensure public safety in high-risk areas.

CEC became the first co-op in Oregon to install distribution fault anticipation technology on power lines in high-risk wildfire areas. The groundbreaking technology detects low-level electric disturbances caused by weather, foreign objects in contact with the power line or deteriorating equipment, relaying the information to us so we can fix the equipment before it fails—another measure to protect against wildfires.

As Central Oregon’s population grows, CEC anticipated members’ increasing interest and demand for electric vehicles. This summer, we rolled out our EV rebate program, which offers rebates for members who own an EV and install Level 2 chargers. I am pleased with the positive response. We look to build on the program’s initial success.

Lastly, a federal judge paused Gov. Kate Brown’s lawsuit asking for maximum water spills on the lower Columbia and lower Snake River dams. If successful, it would likely cost Pacific Northwest consumer-owned utilities $100 million or more a year, with an immediate 5% rate impact in 2022.

Almost all parties involved agreed to a temporary settlement, putting a nine-month hold on litigation until a long-term solution materializes.

Consumer-owned utilities will not incur any rate increases in 2022 due to the lawsuit. The Bonneville Power Administration will absorb cost increases incurred by the lost energy production due to additional water spills as part of the temporary settlement.

While we don’t know what is in store for 2022, you can be confident CEC is doing all it can to anticipate and prepare for whatever may come our way.

From everyone at Central Electric, we wish you a happy holiday season.