Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a cooperative?

Generally speaking, a cooperative is an organization that is owned jointly and governed by the people who use its facilities or services. Consumers Power is an electric cooperative that is operated on a nonprofit basis for the benefit of its members. You become a member of Consumers Power when you receive electric service and pay a $1 membership fee. Each member is entitled to cast one vote for business conducted by the general membership, such as election of the board of directors.

2. What is a public utility?

Public utilities operate solely for the benefit of their customers. Although Consumers Power is a privately owned corporation, it is considered a public utility by the preceding definition. Other examples of public utilities are:

Municipals- governed by the cities they serve

PUD’s- governmental corporations formed by the vote of the people they serve; they are called Public Utility Districts in Washington state and People’s Utility Districts in Oregon.

3. Who is PNGC Power?

CPI and 14 other northwest cooperatives with service territories in six western states own PNGC Power. In 1996, PNGC became the nation’s first electric cooperative to receive a power marketing license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This gave PNGC the ability to purchase wholesale power and resell it to its members and to clients, other utilities and marketers. In 2001, PNGC Power entered a ten-year contract with BPA to purchase a “slice” of the total power capabilities of the Federal Base System (FBS) resources. This includes hydroelectric, nuclear and renewable resources.

The whole idea behind PNGC Power was to give smaller co-op utilities more than any one of them could have alone — more buying clout, more technical capabilities, more strength, more control. By coming together, these cooperatives have been able to share both costs and benefits. This strength coupled with each co-op’s local, personal service has been a powerful combination.

4. Why does CPI charge a $1 membership fee?

As a cooperative the State of Oregon requires CPI to charge a membership fee. The board of directors has made this fee a minimal $1.

5. How many members sit on the board of directors?

CPI has 9 board of directors serving 9 Zones. These directors serve a term of three years.

6. How often does the board of directors meet?

The board of directors meets once a month at CPI headquarters. They decide on such things as the rules and regulations of the cooperative, set the rates charged by the cooperative, set the date of the annual meeting, fill vacancies to the board of directors, and elect and remove officers of the cooperative.

7. How are the rates determined?

The cooperative performs cost of service studies to determine how much it costs to serve all members in its service area. Rate studies are then done to design rates that closely represent each members actual cost of service. All revenues in excess of the cost of service are returned to the members in the form of capital credits or patronage capital.

8. What are Capital Credits?

Excess income of electric cooperatives (income minus expenses) is called Patronage Capital, where patronage is the trade given to a business by its customers and capital is funds that are contributed to a business by its owners. Capital Credits are the amounts of Patronage Capital credited to each member who received service during the year. Capital Credits are distributed on the basis of kilowatt-hours used.

9. What percentage of my bill is responsible for the different power requirements of my household?

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10. At what locations can I drop off my CPI bill?

Click here for a complete list of Payment locations

11. What is Casco Communications?

Casco Communications is a subsidiary of CPI and two other cooperatives. It operates PEAK Internet and CoEnergy.

12. Who is the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)?

The BPA is a federal power marketing agency under the Department of Energy responsible for marketing wholesale electric power from 30 federal dams throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana and portions of California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. BPA also sells and exchanges power with utilities in Canada and California.

13. What is “Green Power”?

Alternative, renewable power resources such as wind, solar, or geothermal are often referred to as “Green Power“. The Coffin Butte Resource Project north of Corvallis is an example of the use of alternative resources to generate electricity. This project was developed to pull methane gas from the Coffin Butte Landfill and use it to generate electricity. By burning the gas, the project uses a renewable resource that might otherwise be wasted.

14. What causes voltage surges?

Only 35% of voltage surges are generated outside the home or office by events such as lightning, utility grid switching, line slapping, miss wiring, etc. 65% of all electrical surges or transient voltage activity is generated within the home or business. They are generally caused by motors and other electrical appliances turning on and off.

As much as 80% of power problems can be tied to the local environment. Surges are caused by elevators, air conditioners, vending machines, copiers, large computers, and even lights turning on and off will cause rushes of power and transient voltages back up the line.

Any electrical device that contains a microprocessor is susceptible to damage from transient voltages. This includes computer equipment and peripherals, electronic equipment such as stereos, TVs, and VCRs, fax machines, telephones, answering machines, satellite dish receivers, household appliances including washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwave ovens, food processors, blenders and can openers.