Ask the General Manager


The questions below were among those asked at this year’s UEC Annual Meeting. We will continue to update the questions below as new questions come our way.

Robert Echenrode, General Manager and CEO

Q: Has UEC suffered wire theft and money lost by profit-taking vandals?

Copper theft is on the rise nationwide, and we have been targeted on several occasions in the past year.

Copper theft is a dangerous crime. It can cause a power outage or fire, it increases the cost of your cooperative, and worst of all,it puts lives at risk.

The lives at risk are many – the thieves stealing the copper, a child or pet who wanders through a hole cut into a substation fence, a lineworker coming into contact with ungrounded equipment.

Contact our 24-hour call center at 888-465-5701 if you see suspicious activity, such as an unmarked vehicle around a substation, utility lines or other field equipment. Your action could protect the reliability of your utility service and you may even save a life.

Q: Regarding annual expenses in 2017, how much did UEC spend on wages and benefits?

Wages and benefits for UEC employees totaled about 9 percent of our expenses during the past year.

Our largest expense? Nearly 75 percent of the revenues we received last year went to purchasing wholesale power.

Q: Do we have any protection from Bitcoin miners using all of our power and driving rates out of reason?

Like many Northwest utilities, UEC has been approached by cryptocurrency mining operations inquiring about the price and availability of power. The reason these companies consume so much electricity is that producing each new bitcoin requires solving a complex mathematical puzzle by computer.

Under Oregon law, we are obliged to serve any load that is willing to abide by our policies.

For our part, new loads on our system, and expansions by existing members, are responsible for the infrastructure costs of serving them power, often paying in advance for their impact on the system.

This policy helps mitigate risk to the membership, minimizes the impact of growth, and ensures that one sector of our membership does not unfavorably impact the other sectors.

In summary, new operations joining our cooperative will not affect our power availability, overtax our system or increase your rates.


If you have a question for UEC’s General Manager, submit it by emailing: Member.Services@umatillaelectric.com.