After a three-year hiatus, Umatilla Electric Cooperative representatives returned to Oregon’s Capitol, meeting with Legislators in April to discuss cooperative interests. UEC Board Members John Otis, Jeff Wenholz, Phil Hamm, Tom Pitzer and Bryan Wolfe, along with the Executive team, attended the trip.
While at the Capitol, the group met with Sen. Hansell, Rep. Levy and Rep. Smith, toured the House floor and met with Oregon Housing Executive Director, Andrea Bell. A meeting with the Oregon Department of Energy allowed the group an opportunity to discuss potential upcoming federal funding to better support UEC’s membership.
In addition to the trip to the Oregon Capitol, UEC’s Government Relations Manager, Alec Shebiel, traveled to Washington D.C. with representatives from 13 other Oregon Cooperatives to attend the National Rural Electric Association’s (NRECA) Legislative Conference and to meet with State Legislators. Featured topics included federal hydropower, supply chain issues and upcoming contracts with Bonneville Power Administration.
While in D.C., UEC also met with USDA partner and facilitator of the Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP) loans, which UEC utilizes to offer the cooperative’s Energy Saver Loan Program and Manufactured Home Replacement Program.
Shebiel also created connections to support NRECA and others on the Reauthorization of the Farm Bill of 2023. The Farm Bill allows cooperatives to maintain offering affordable and reliable electric services by providing infrastructure financing programs. The Farm Bill also supports continuing programs like the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program (REDLG) which has been used by UEC to support the expansion of local small businesses.
“These opportunities to meet with delegates in person are vital to ensure that cooperatives like UEC have the tools we need to continue to serve our communities and our members well,” says Alec Shebiel. “Supplying affordable power is a necessity for our community and the Farm Bill is an important economic development tool to grow the region.”