CEC Employees Are Crucial to Co-op’s Success

The first Monday of every September is Labor Day, a holiday celebrating the American worker. It is an opportunity to pay tribute to those who display their resilience, dedication and collaboration throughout the year.

These attributes reflect your rural electric cooperative employees–past and present–who have worked tirelessly to keep members’ lights on since the co-op’s inception.

In Central Oregon, nine farmers embodying that spirit banded together in 1938 to form a cooperative to bring electric service to rural areas when other utilities showed no interest. The farmers’ vision and efforts culminated in the formation of Central Electric Cooperative, Inc. in 1940. With their labors, and electric system began to take shape.

On May 17, 1941, with a light spring snowfall, the founders flipped the switch at Deschutes Junction Substation midway between Redmond and Bend. The lights came on, illuminating 11 farms in the area and providing the first electric service to CEC’s founding members.

The first full-time lineworker, hired in 1941, initiated the slow growth in crew and other personnel, totaling seven by the end of World War II. These employees managed an electric network of 250 miles and delivered power to 600 members.

Today, CEC has more than 30,000 members and nearly 4,000 miles of power lines in a 5,300-square-mile service territory overlapping five counties. Our members are residents, farmers, ranchers and businesses, including St. Charles Hospital in Bend.

CEC’s employees are crucial to the cooperative’s success.

Operations employees work in various types of high desert weather conditions, from summer’s extreme heat to winter’s subzero temperatures. They must respond to service interruptions, build large projects and maintain the electric system to provide safe and reliable power to our members and communities.

CEC’s workforce is so much more than just the outside employees. CEC customer service representatives courteously greet members at the front desk or by phone, ready to answer their questions and provide or direct them to the information regarding the co-op’s numerous products and programs, ranging from energy efficiency and rates to financial assistance.

CEC’s member services personnel support the organization’s external and internal communications with the members always in mind.

Behind the scenes, the engineering department meticulously designs and maps the ever-growing system to safely and reliably meet load growth. Logistics employees procure and maintain a vast inventory to meet this load growth.

Information and technology staff consistently maintain and upgrade infrastructure to enhance operations and reduce cyber-security risk. Administrators and finance personnel effectively manage costs within their control to keep rates low, while management guides the co-op through a rapidly transforming and evolving industry to meet CEC’s long-term goals.

Throughout the years, CEC has built an excellent reputation as one of the best service-oriented companies in Central Orgon, and that is because of its employees.

While we officially observe Labor Day one day a year, I am thankful throughout the year for the co-op employees who serve our members.

Brad Wilson, President and CEO