Youth Tour Celebrates 50 Years with Record Attendance

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of sending electric cooperative youth to Washington D.C. by sending a record 1,644 students.  The annual event continues a tradition that began following a speech by then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, D-Texas, at the 1957 NRECA Annual Meeting in Chicago. Senator Johnson urged electric cooperatives to send their young people to the nation’s capital to remind members of Congress that electric co-ops are more than just poles and wires, they are people.

“Youth Tour offers students a great opportunity to develop leadership skills, see our government in action and meet other young people from across the country while touring Washington, D.C., and learning American history,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson.

This year Consumers Power had the opportunity to send Kings Valley Charter School Junior Andrew Damitio.  CPI annually solicits Youth Tour applications from high school juniors to go to Washington D.C. with other students from up to 43 states.  One student get a chance to engage with their local Congress members, visit historic museums, site and experience history in action.  Be sure to keep posted on next year’s Youth Tour!

Safety Matters

Although seemingly innocent enough, putting signs or other items on utility poles creates serious safety hazards. Staples, nails, and tacks used to hang signs as well as the signs themselves, pose dangers to line workers who must climb poles when either restoring power following storms or while performing routine maintenance to ensure system reliability.

The nails and tacks left behind from signs can snag utility workers gloves and sleeves that they wear to work on high voltage lines and puncture the safety clothing making line workers vulnerable to electrocution.

Posters or other objects (birdhouses, balloons, flags, and even basketball nets) can also create dangerous obstacles as they themselves or the objects left behind from hanging them can cause problems for line workers.

Thank you for following these safety tips and helping to keep our CPI linemen safe!

Beware of Billing Scams

There have been increased incidences of scams targeting utility customers across the United States.

The scams generally involve attempts to illegally obtain payments for fictitious utility bills.

Individuals impersonating utility company representatives or collection agency personnel are utilizing a variety of techniques to gain access to customer’s funds, usually by indicating a customer has an outstanding debt and is about to immediately lose service.

If you ever receive a phone call like this, do not give any personal information over the phone. Always call CPI to verify. Reach us at 541-929-3124.

It’s a good Place to Be

The Good Place to Be showcases energy efficiency actions being taken by real people across the region, in their own words.

Find practical ways to reducing energy waste that have worked for others. You can even add your own stories! See more at cpi.goodplacetobe.com.

8-1-1 Gets Underground Utilities Located

Building a deck? Planting a tree? Installing a mailbox?

811 is the number you should call before you begin any digging project.

People often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked.

Every digging job requires a call – even small projects like planting trees or shrubs. If you hit an underground utility line while digging, you can harm yourself or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood and potentially be responsible for fines.

Dial 811 before every digging job gets your underground utility lines marked for free and helps prevent undesired consequences.

CPI Joins with Northwest RiverPartners for Hydropower Education Effort

In recognition of the tremendous value of the Columbia and Snake River System, CPI is partnering with a regional effort to educate people about the multiple benefits the rivers provide to the region’s economy.  An informational “CleanHydro” campaign features a new website, fact-based materials, two television ads and print ads. CPI is joining other utilities and users of the region’s rivers on the campaign, which is being coordinated by Northwest RiverPartners, an organization of river users with members in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

For information on the CleanHydro campaign, visit www.cleanhydro.com

Public opinion research shows a lack of understanding of the river system’s value to the Northwest’s economy. Many Northwest residents believe wind and solar technologies produce a much higher percentage of power than what is accurate. Younger generations know very little about the Columbia and Snake River System’s positive contributions. For example, surveys show that Northwest residents believe hydropower comprises 42 percent of the region’s power, while they think wind and solar combine for 11 percent. In reality, hydropower produces 60 percent of the region’s electricity, while solar and wind produce 4 percent. And in the Northwest, hydropower provides 90 percent of the region’s renewable energy.

“We are launching this effort to educate people that a great deal of important commerce flows from our Northwest rivers,” said Scott Corwin, Executive Director of the Public Power Council and also a co-chair of the CleanHydro campaign. “The fact that hydropower is the region’s premier renewable energy source is a compelling story to share,” Corwin added.

Examples of facts and benefits from the campaign:

  • Agriculture: Northwest rivers irrigate 7.8 million acres of farmland each year. Annual net earned income from Northwest agriculture production exceeds $8 billion.
  • Commerce: Over 50 million tons of commercial cargo, valued at over $20 billion, is moved down the Columbia and Snake Rivers annually. The Northwest is the nation’s number one exporter of wheat, barley and paper products. The Northwest river system provides over 100,000 jobs to the region.
  • Clean air: Barges on Northwest rivers keep 700,000 trucks off the highways each year. Because hydropower produces no carbon emissions, the Northwest’s carbon footprint is half that of other parts of the country.
  • Renewable: Hydropower provides nearly 90 percent of the Northwest’s renewable energy.
  • Energy: Northwest dams provide nearly 60 percent of the region’s electricity. It would take two nuclear, three coal-fired, or six gas-fired power plants to replace the average annual power produced by the four lower Snake River dams.
  • Flexible and reliable: Because the rivers are always flowing in the Northwest, hydropower is also used as a tool to back up intermittent generators such as wind or solar. Hydro generation can be quickly adjusted to follow changes in wind production and keep the transmission system reliable.
  • Flood control: Prior to the federal dams on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, Portland and other cities were subject to severe flooding. Controlling flood waters became a high priority in 1948 when Vanport, Oregon, was destroyed in a late spring deluge. A 1964 treaty with Canada led to the development of millions of acre-feet of water storage for flood control and power generation. Estimates show that flood control operations in February 1996 saved $3.2 billion to the Portland metropolitan area in what otherwise would have been devastating flood damage.
  • Recreation: The reservoirs formed by dams provide Northwest residents with abundant waterways for boating, fishing, water-related sports and cruises. Tourism from river cruise ships alone brings $15 to $20 million annually to local Northwest economies.

About Northwest RiverPartners: Northwest RiverPartners is an alliance of over 120 farmers, utilities, ports and small and large businesses that relies on and promotes the economic and environmental benefits of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and fish and wildlife policies and programs based on sound science. RiverPartners’ member organizations represent more than four million electric utility customers, 40,000 farmers and thousands of port employees that provide hundreds of thousands of Northwest jobs.

For information on the CleanHydro campaign, visit www.cleanhydro.com

CPI Plans for 2013 System Improvements

CPI has plans for a number of distribution and transmission pole replacements this year.  

“Thirty transmission poles, many in difficult access areas, have been identified as needing replacement due to decay or damage,” says Greg Pierce, CPI Director of Operations.  “Another 110 distribution poles have been identified as needing replacement due to decay or damage.”

Approximately 8,700 feet of underground cable will be replaced system wide. These cable sections were installed in the 1970’s and have shorted and failed many times resulting in power outages. Some of the underground cable sections that will be replaced are in subdivisions in Lebanon, South Albany and North Corvallis.

“In addition, approximately 16,200 feet of underground cable will be refurbished using an insulating fluid injection system. This cable treatment has proven to be a cost effective way to prolong the life of underground cables meeting certain criteria,” according to Greg without having to do a total replacement.

When an outage is required for the work to be done, CPI will notify customers by postcard or a phone call.

CPI Returns Capital Credits

In December, CPI returned $1.3 million in capital credits to CPI members who received electric service in 1986 and 1987.

As a nonprofit cooperative, any revenues that remain after CPI’s bills are paid and a reasonable amount is held for emergencies are returned to CPI members. How much each person gets is based on the amount of electricity they used during the period being returned. If a member’s capital credit is $10 or less for the period being returned, CPI will not issue a check.

The reason for the time lag in returning capital credits is that CPI has used your investment for a number of years to improve and maintain its electric system, reducing the need to take on debt. This helps keep electric rates lower.

Returning capital credits is not automatic. The co-op’s board of directors—member-owners themselves—review current finances and determines if issuing a refund is prudent.

For questions, please call CPI at (541) 929-8553 or write capitalcredits@cpi.coop.

CPI serves 22,000 electric accounts in its six county service area.

The Cooperative Difference

Every October since 1930, not-for-profit cooperatives of all stripes have celebrated Cooperative Month. During this time, it makes sense to highlight the qualities that make electric cooperatives different from other types of utilities and businesses.

For starters, electric co-ops are owned by those they serve. That’s why those who receive electric service from us are called members, not customers. Without members, there would be no CPI.

Members maintain democratic control of our co-op, which means they elect fellow members to represent them on the board of directors/trustees every September at our annual meeting. As a bonus, co-op members receive special benefits through programs like our energy efficiency programs,  Ruralkite magazine, electric safety demonstrations and more. CPI also returns margins (“ profits”) to our members when it is financially viable in the form of capital credits.

One principle that sets us apart from other businesses is our concern for community. As a cooperative, we have a special responsibility to support the areas in which our members live and work. Of course, co-ops span all industries, including credit unions, dairy operations, health care, housing, and much more. There are more than 29,000 co-ops across the nation. And not all are small or rural. Just look at nationally known co-ops like Sunkist, Ace Hardware, and Land O’ Lakes.

Overall, co-ops are more accessible than other types of businesses. We give our members a voice, and we are local—living and working alongside those we serve.

That’s the cooperative difference.

Celebrating 75 Years of Serving the Northwest

One incredible river gave the Pacific Northwest the power to do magnificent things… all at the flip of a switch.

On August 20, 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Bonneville Project Act to deliver the massive benefits of Columbia River hydropower—clean, inexpensive electricity—to citizens of the Pacific Northwest.

In less than five minutes, watch how the Columbia River’s raw power helped save a nation and transform a region in Ode to the Columbia.

Learn more about BPA’s history at http://www.bpa.gov/corporate/About_BPA/75th/ and watch a series of videos of BPA’ history http://www.bpa.gov/news/AboutUs/75thAnniversary/Pages/Videos.aspx