An organization that celebrates 30 years is usually just hitting its stride and coming into its own. That was the message Saturday, April 14, as Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative celebrated its 30th Annual Meeting of the Membership at the Harney County Fairgrounds in Burns.

OTEC Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Les Penning said the cooperative is very proud of its history. “(Thirty years) is a big deal. That’s a lot of years under the belt for a new cooperative,” Penning said. “A lot of other cooperatives were started in the 1930s or 1940s. So (30 years) is quite an accomplishment and what the undertaking was to become a cooperative.”

Attendees received a free lunch, the chance to see many of the programs and services the cooperative offers, including energy efficiency programs, the cooperative’s new Member to Member program and the different safety programs offered by the cooperative.

In all, nearly 200 members attended the meeting, and Board President Austin Bingaman told the packed house of OTEC members how seriously he, and the rest of the board members, take representing their districts. “We are very proud to be here and to support our communities,” Bingaman said. “I’m very humbled to represent our members.”

While the cooperative looks forward, the meeting was also a chance to look back at some 2017 accomplishments. OTEC Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Les Penning highlighted some of those accomplishments, including some of the capital improvements made in 2017.

“For the last few years, we’ve been focused inward. There’s been $4 or $5 million going into just capital improvements,” he said. “As those 3,000 miles of line are aging, weather’s taking its toll, there’s a fair investment to try and keep that system rigid, hardened and to keep reliability up. We have a lot of focus in that area.”

Along with Penning providing an overview of the financial status of the cooperative, a breakdown of rate comparisons and outlining some of the challenges the cooperative faces in the coming months, the OTEC Board Election results were also announced:

  • Austin Bingaman (position No. 4), of Union County, was re-elected with 3,148 votes.
  • Wayne Overton (position No. 5), of Baker County, was re-elected with 3,114 votes.
  • Gary Miller (position No. 6), of Grant County, was re-elected with 3,048 votes.

Robert Ledbetter, of Baker City, was drawn to win the mail-in ballot drawing for the $500 OTEC energy credit. Florence Krueger, of Hines, was the raffle winner of the washer and dryer “OTEC Attendance Award.”

Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative holds an annual meeting every spring, and all cooperative customers are invited to attend. For additional information about OTEC, board candidates and the Annual Meeting visit: