Our Power is People

UEC’s theme this year reflects the collective power of our membership. Working together is the real force that drives our co-op and its impact on the community. In our 85th year in 2022, together with our members we achieved these milestones:

  • POWER SALES MILESTONE. UEC surpassed six billion kilowatt hours sold for the first time – a 20.5 percent increase compared to the year before – in safe, reliable and affordable energy for our members.
  • ENERGY SAVING PROGRAM CELEBRATES 40 YEARS. 2022 marked the 40th anniversary of UEC’s Energy Efficiency program. A program which has helped our members save energy and ease the region’s need to find new power resources. By highlighting energy efficiency, we help our residential members manage their energy costs and help our industries grow by making their energy dollars go farther.
  • GIVING BACK TO OUR MEMBERS. With the return of $4.5 million in Capital Credits retirements to members in April, UEC became one of a handful of rural electric cooperatives in U.S. history to have surpassed $100 million returned to its members. We are proud to continue the tradition of returning capital credits, and to spend every day in service to our members.

In our ongoing system-wide effort to modernize UEC’s infrastructure, we are replacing substations at Irrigon, the Columbia district near Hermiston and Weston Mountain. Built to new design standards, the substations will provide reliability and resiliency for many years to come.

On the front lines of our service territory, we continue to upgrade our existing system and build new infrastructure for our growing residential and economic base.

On the financial front, we’re working hard to be good stewards of your investment in our cooperative, despite the rising cost of service we’re seeing all around us.

With over 100 employees, UEC is filled with people who give their time and talents beyond their workday life. They represent a fraction of the good deeds our employees do beyond their duties at UEC, and they work within a wide and generous community of people, from Boardman to the Blue Mountains, devoted to improving our quality of life.

In a co-op driven by people power, we are reminded that perseverance is central to the character of UEC and its membership, as is self-reliance, determination and courage.

Umatilla Electric is more than an ordinary utility — we are guided by seven cooperative principles that put the needs of our members, employees, and communities first. Of the Seven Cooperative Principles, Concern for Community is one UEC has always strived to showcase through our programs and donations.

$57,000 in Donations Matched By Lending Partner: UEC joined with lending partner CoBank to donate to the Community Center in Stanfield and Martha’s House in Hermiston to make building improvements. Through its Sharing Success Program, Colorado-based CoBank doubles the contributions of its cooperative customers to charitable organizations. It has now matched $57,500 in UEC donations to area recipients in the past seven years.
Employee Donations Support Local Health: In March, employees and members contributed more than 100 long-sleeved shirts for farmworkers during National Farmworker Awareness Week. The donated shirts will help protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure and heat-related illnesses.
$50,000 in Donations Helping to End Hunger for Our Communities: The Board of Directors donated to Farmers Ending Hunger and food banks at Stanfield, Irrigon, Boardman, Hermiston and Pendleton.
$45,000 in Grants and Scholarships Awarded to Local Students: Fourteen academic scholarships totaling $42,000 were awarded to students in our area. In June, a deserving local student was also awarded a $3,000 scholarship to pursue the lineworker trade.

An $89 million, low-interest loan from USDA’s Rural Development program will support UEC’s three-year, $121 million plan for power grid improvements.
In March, new rates took effect to cover costs of serving members, with residential energy rising to 7.33 cents per kilowatt hour. Overall, UEC’s residential rate remains 20 percent lower than Oregon’s average and 35 percent lower than the U.S. average.
UEC joined the Western Power Trading Forum, an industry organization of companies that are active in the western power markets with a focus on sharing information broadly among its membership and advocating for market-based solutions to challenges of our industry.

UEC contracted with Fitch Ratings to receive its first independent credit rating. A credit rating is a third-party financial and qualitative assessment of the creditworthiness of an organization. UEC uses the rating to establish credit limits with our power suppliers and financial partners.
UEC submitted a federal application to help Umatilla County finance the rebuilding of a flood-damaged bridge over the Umatilla River at Nolin. The loan sourced from the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant (REDLG) program will help fund project design and related planning.
With an assist from UEC’s Revolving Loan Fund, Java Junkies, a locally owned small business, expanded with another drive-through coffee shop. The Revolving Loan Fund receives its seed capital through the REDLG program. UEC’s Business Resource Center received a $75,000 Business Oregon grant to develop and deliver bilingual small business curriculum with a focus on women- and minority-owned business. 

We are pleased to report that the Cooperative has received an unmodified opinion on the consolidated financial statements, which is the highest form of assurance you can receive on your consolidated financial statements.

– Scott Daniels, Aldrich CPAs + Advisors LLP

Staff handed out hundreds of hotdogs and prizes over two days of lunch events for the 2022 Member Appreciation events in October. UEC is shaped by the people we serve. As a member-owned utility, we are driven to be more than a business, we are powering community.

  • In January, the Umatilla County Fair named UEC as its Business Partner of the Year for our long-time support of fair activities.
  • In April, members re-elected Lee Docken of Boardman and Jeff Wenholz of Irrigon to the UEC Board of Directors.
  • In May, Cecilia Correa, the sole-surviving member of UEC who can be traced to the co-op’s first days, passed away at age 102. She and her husband signed up for electric service in late 1937, and her acreage on the Echo Meadows has been continuously served for 85 years.

  • In May, UEC won three awards at NRECA’s national communications conference. The co-op’s annual report, employee newsletter and “The Power of Being Prepared” public safety communications received top awards.
  • In June, UEC marked its 85th anniversary, having formed in 1937 as one of FDR’s original wave of rural electric cooperatives.
  • In September, UEC received Northwest Public Power Association’s (NWPPA) Overall Excellence in Communications Award for the quality of UEC’s company website, newsletters, social media and advertising. This marked the first time UEC received the top honor in a competition open to more than 150 consumer-owned utilities in the western U.S. and Canada.

Working Safely Takes Priority: The Value of Life Through Safety, or VOLTS, is a motto every employee practices day-in-and-day-out. By year’s end, Umatilla Electric Cooperative employees had worked nearly 16 months without a lost time injury, a total of nearly 250,000 hours combined.
Appreciation for Lineworkers Goes Viral: A video featuring children of UEC’s lineworkers telling their dads how much they appreciated them was posted to social media on April 11, Lineworker Appreciation Day. The video reached more than 12,000 people. Watch below.
Making a Positive Impact on Our Communities: UEC employees once-again rallied to raise funds for breast cancer screening and treatment in our area as well as raise awareness for suicide prevention. The $8,000 raised went to Good Shepherd Community Foundation to help our local communities.
Converting Crisis Into Opportunity: UEC staff joined a Chamber Career Fair that focused on the hundreds of Shearer’s Potato Processing Plant employees who lost their jobs following a devastating fire at the Hermiston area plant.


Safety Heroism Award
UEC lineworker Chris Wellington was recognized on a regional level for his quick response to help a motorist who had collided with a power pole near Hermiston. Wellington was honored with the Northwest Public Power Association’s (NWPPA) Safety Heroism Award.
Improving System Reliability
To maintain system reliability, crews trimmed trees and cleared brush along 5,524 spans of wire, with each about a football field in length. Crews inspected 1,104 transmission structures with detailed drone photos and tested the quality of 3,170 distribution poles.
New Services
Crews connected 294 new homes, businesses and other service locations in 2022. 277,281 feet of line were installed, with nearly a dozen “backbone” services installed for new home subdivisions at Boardman, Umatilla, Hermiston and Stanfield. Beyond new homes, new services were greatly varied – pumps, center pivots, water wells, concrete batch plant, elementary school, electric vehicle charger, lagoon digester, commercial shops and several new Dollar General stores.
Major System Upgrades
Major system upgrades included new poles carrying larger wires and additional circuits being installed on power lines in the Boardman, Juniper Canyon, Foster West (Stanfield) areas.
Conductor Replacement Update
Crews continued an eight-year underground conductor replacement program for cable that is over 30 years old and needing replacement. Four miles were replaced in 2022, increasing UEC’s system reliability.
Fire-Danger Areas
Crews began to replace fuses in high-fire-danger areas with new fuses that suppress any flames or sparks when activated, to better protect the system and mitigate the potential for wildfire.
Inspection/Vegetation Management Review
UEC received a favorable review from an Oregon Public Utility Commission evaluation of our inspection and vegetation management programs.

UEC Distribution Engineer Ryan Young joined the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Transmission and Distribution Engineering Committee. Young (shown above – far left – presenting to educators during a substation tour) officially joined the committee on Aug. 31 in Washington D.C.

Participation on this committee will benefit UEC members with efficiencies in new designs, as Ryan will have insight into new requirements going forward. This committee assists the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) on the development, analysis and updating of federal technical standards, guidelines and specifications. Young will also serve on the Underground Distribution Subcommittee as part of his service to the national group.

UEC proudly contributes to the economic vitality of our communities by serving households and businesses with affordable and reliable power. More than 90 percent of the co-op’s power serves the irrigation, commercial and industrial sectors, providing a base for economic development and community improvement.


Umatilla Electric’s 49 substations and switchyards are essential for moving electricity at different high-voltage levels across our system. Some 2022 infrastructure highlights include:

  • The Weston Mountain Substation, dating to 1969, was rebuilt in place. A temporary mobile substation allowed the project to be rebuilt on its existing site on Highway 204 without interrupting service to members.
  • A 1960s-era substation has been relocated from Highway 730 east of Irrigon to a property south of town on Division Road. The new Irrigon South substation adds 50 percent more capacity to fast-growing home and irrigation loads and includes new and rebuilt transmission lines.
  • The Columbia Substation east of Hermiston, installed in 1974, has been rebuilt. To reduce costs, the rebuild was combined with a new switch station and other improvements to provide added capacity, safety, protection and sectionalizing of UEC’s transmission system in the Hermiston-Stanfield-Wheatland areas.

With over 2,300 miles of energized lines across nearly 1,900 square miles of service territory, UEC continues to improve systemwide reliability and resiliency.

UEC’s transmission grid, the highest-voltage lines that supply power to substations, are receiving multi-year upgrades.
The rebuild of transmission and distribution line along the south side of Elm Avenue near UEC’s headquarters in Hermiston began May 2. This work is part of a larger rebuild project that extends west toward I-82, allowing UEC to continue to provide safe and reliable power to our membership.
The rebuild of the Weston Mountain Substation began in May 2022 – including the replacement of the single oldest transformer on UEC’s system at 53 years – and will aid dependable electric service for nearly 900 members in the Weston Mountain area.
Work began on a project to upgrade a transmission line from Hermiston Butte Substation to Highway 37, with the first phase starting from the east edge of Hermiston to the Columbia Substation east of Hermiston.

Pictured above: In June, the largest transformer in UEC history was delivered to the Cottonwood Substation southwest of Hermiston, strengthening the co-op’s transmission system. Delivered by train from its manufacturing plant in Waukesha, Wisc., the transformer weighs 536,000 pounds and holds 21,655 gallons of transformer oil.

A multi-year effort to install automated reclosers on the UEC system continued in the Blue Mountains and Pilot Rock areas in 2022. A total of 66 new reclosers will be installed at various system locations within the next few years.
During the year, field crews replaced 5,900 meters on the UEC system to help improve service reliability. A system that instantly reports the scope of an outage — the number of meters out and their precise location — helps make our response more focused and immediate. In coming months, meters will be replaced on the entire UEC system.
The engineering design team created 563 work orders in 2022 for new services and other improvements for all classes of service.

  • UEC’s investment in cybersecurity measures protected all member and system information as well as ensured network reliability.
  • Employees received continuing training throughout 2022 to follow cybersecurity best practices and to report suspicious activity.
  • A Voice-over-Internet Protocol system was installed to replace UEC’s 13-year-old internal telephone system.
  • Expansion of telecommunications to newly added substations brought critical information to UEC system operators.

“I would like to personally thank you for making our work possible in 2022 and beyond. Your kindness this past year supported our efforts in feeding a record number of hungry stomachs and helping many homeless families transition into stable housing.”

– Mark Gomolski, Executive Director, Eastern Oregon Mission (Agape House and Martha’s House)

In April, more than 350 members, guests and employees attended UEC’s 85th Annual Meeting in Hermiston, our first in-person membership meeting in three years, since community health concerns canceled in-person attendance in 2020.
Employees greeted hundreds of visitors in October during Member Appreciation Week. Visitors to the Hermiston and Boardman offices received lunch and gifts. In total, over 900 members participated in UEC’s Member Appreciation events.
Customer Service Representatives responded to 25,449 telephone calls during the year, on top of requests by mail, email and office visitors. Our 24-hour call center took another 11,303 calls during the year.
In 2022, our UCARE program, combined with CAPECO and other local, state, federal and tribal service agencies, generated $673,463 in energy bill assistance for our members.

Matt and Serenity Stull became the first recipients of the UEC Business Resource Center’s new program – Manufactured Home Replacement Loan Program – the first of it’s kind in the country.

To maximize energy savings, year-round comfort and healthier indoor air, the Stulls replaced their 1984 doublewide with a Northwest Energy Efficient Manufactured Housing Certified Home, known as NEEM, purchased from Oregon Trail Homes in Hermiston. The program is aimed at homeowners who are not likely to replace their home without assistance and may be unlikely to qualify for other lending.

In 2022, UEC Journeyman Lineman Matt Ellis (above center) and his wife Erica (above far right) saw the decline of their local youth sports options and decided to take on the task of reinvigorating the Stanfield Parks & Recreations department.
UEC staff gathered dozens of food items and children’s toys through the months of November and December to be donated to the 54th Annual Hermiston Christmas Express.
UEC has participated in a School Supply Donation program for more than 20 years. In 2022, nearly $5,000 was gifted to help supplement the needs of our local schools. These range from craft supplies to shoes and coats.t

Program Marks 40 Years of Saving
In 2022, we marked our 40th year of providing incentives and programs to use energy more efficiently.
Manufactured Home Replacement Program Kicks-off
Matthew and Serenity Stull became the first beneficiary of a UEC program to help members replace older manufactured homes with energy-efficient models (see page 23). The Stulls replaced their 1984 doublewide with a Northwest Energy Efficient Manufactured (NEEM) Housing Certified Home. The source of UEC’s funding is a loan from USDA’s Rural Energy Savings Program, while Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) provided a supplemental “gap” loan that is fully forgivable if the occupant stays 10 years.
In a four-year span, our Energy Saver Loan Program has surpassed $1.4 million in low-interest loans to members for efficiency measures ranging from heat pumps and windows to insulation.
Saving Billions of Gallons of Water with SIS
The Scientific Irrigation Scheduling program assisted 17 irrigators in reducing water usage by 8,761 acre-feet and produced 7,810,880 in kWh savings on nearly 40,000 acres. That equals nearly 3 billion gallons of water and the same energy needed to supply 565 all-electric homes for one year.
Residential Solar Installation Growth
UEC’s Net Metering program saw explosive growth in 2022. Nearly 50 residential solar arrays are now connected to the UEC system, representing one-half of 1 percent of our total residential membership. Solar arrays have doubled on the UEC system in the past two years; the largest in 2022 was installed by the Morrow County government building in Irrigon, a 23.4 kilowatt system capable of producing about 34,000 kWh of energy each year.

About Umatilla Electric Cooperative

Incorporated in 1937 through the Rural Electrification Act, Umatilla Electric serves portions of Umatilla, Morrow, Union and Wallowa counties. More than 90 percent of our power serves the industrial, irrigation and commercial sectors, providing a base for ongoing economic development and community improvement.