Headquarters in Baker City, Oregon.
Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC) is one of Oregon's largest distribution cooperatives. Headquartered in Baker City, Oregon, with district offices in La Grande, John Day, and Burns, OTEC serves approximately 31,000 meters in Baker, Grant, Harney and Union counties with a network of overhead and underground lines over 3,000 miles long. OTEC's distribution system represents an investment of more than $153 million.
Northeastern Oregon is the home of the stunning Blue Mountains, which annually attract hundreds of hikers, mountain bikers and other adventure types year round. Superlative fishing and hunting also draw many visitors and skiers and snowboarders flock to the region in the winter. In former frontier towns like Baker City, old-school ranchers and cowboys mingle with a growing population of artists and craftsmen. The landscape ranges from high alpine fir-covered slopes to sage-brush covered hills and valleys.
Heading towards Burns, sprawling scrubby ranchlands boast a beauty of their own here in the high desert country. Stunning vistas and unexpected river canyons dominate the landscape that harkens back to the early days of settlers and gold-mining. There are wonderful camp sites, hot springs and little towns bursting with hospitality throughout the region.
OTEC is a consumer-owned cooperative. Its policies are established by a nine-person Board of Directors - each board member is a bill-paying, residential member elected by fellow members.
What is a Cooperative
What Defines a Cooperative?
An electric cooperative is a private, non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the state and owned by the customers it serves. It is governed by a locally-elected board of directors and is guided by principles including voluntary membership, local control, autonomy, member participation and concern for community.
What They Are Not
As consumer-owned utilities, electric cooperatives differ from investor-owned utilities, such as PGE and PacifiCorp, in that they are non-profit companies, owned by their members - not stockholders. They are governed by locally-elected boards and are not rate-regulated by the Oregon Public Utility Commission as are the investor-owned utilities.
Unlike other types of consumer-owned utilities (People's Utility Districts and Municipal Utilities) electric cooperatives are not government entities and do not have governmental powers such as taxing authority or the ability to issue bonds. Cooperatives are private companies.
Public Preference Power
The largest source of electricity for cooperatives is the Bonneville Power Administration which operates the federal Columbia River hydroelectric power system. Through the Congressionally-established Preference Clause, consumer-owned utilities such as cooperatives have first right to the sale of electricity from this federal resource.
Oregon's Electric Cooperatives
Oregon's 18 electric cooperatives are distribution utilities serving approximately 10% of the state's electricity consumers. Electric cooperatives are located in 32 Oregon counties, covering 65% of the state's geography and traversing some of its most rugged terrain with over 26,000 miles of distribution line. Cooperatives average 7 customers per mile of line.
Beginning in the 1930's, Oregon's electric cooperatives were organized to bring electric power to under-served rural areas. Today, these utilities, as preferred customers of the Bonneville Power Administration, provide at-cost electric service to residential, industrial, commercial and irrigation consumers. They also address other rural community needs by providing services such as telecommunications, high-speed internet and propane.