I am somewhat surprised this year at the amount of development activity occurring so late in the year. A new large business is under construction at the former sawmill site in Odell, and groundwork for future expansion of a longtime fruit storage and packing facility is underway.

Hood River Electric Cooperative staff has received a number of inquiries for large electrical loads for both expansions and new operations. Former managers and directors of the cooperative invested many years ago to build a robust distribution network of aerial and underground lines that have served the members admirably—without significant modification—for decades.

That infrastructure is capable of serving the expected load growth and will continue to meet our needs into the foreseeable future. However, the possibility for significant load growth—coupled with concerns I have with the quality and reliability of existing transmission service to Odell via Pacific Power facilities—have caused me to initiate discussion with the Bonneville Power Administration about the upstream infrastructure feeding the distribution system mentioned above. I envision a future where HREC receives transmission service directly from the BPA.

Making that vision a reality will require years of work and significant investment. That investment is likely to include construction of cooperative-owned transmission line and at least one new substation. Such investment, over a period of years, should position the co-op well for decades.

Be confident that your board of directors will fully consider and authorize any expenditures incurred to ensure they are prudent and beneficial. As I write this message, our weather has begun to change toward winter.

The days are shorter and cooler, and snow is in the forecast for upper elevations. All of this is likely to result in increased energy use by HREC members in the coming weeks and months.

Now is a good time to enroll in assistance programs—as a potential recipient or as a contributor—if your personal or family situation warrants.

Feel free to contact one of our customer service representatives to get information about local programs and ways to apply for benefits, or to learn how to contribute.

John Gerstenberger, Manager