BAKER CITY — Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative announced it is holding its annual meeting virtually due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and concern for the health and well-being of customers.

The meeting takes place Saturday, May 15, starting at 10:30 a.m., and three positions on the OTEC Board of Directors are up for election, but only Position 4, the Union County seat, is a contested race. Attorney Charles Gillis of La Grande is trying to unseat Grande Ronde Valley farmer G. Austin Bingaman, who has served nine years on the OTEC board.

Incumbents are the only candidates in the other two races. Wayne Overton seeks election to Position 5 (Baker County), and Gary Miller seeks to serve again in Position 6 (Grant County).

All candidates are running to serve a three-year term, and OTEC will announce the results of the races at the meeting.

Board President Charlene Chase will conduct business as necessary, and CEO Les Penning will provide an update on the state of the cooperative.

Watch for your election ballot in the mail after and return it by May 7 using the prepaid colored envelope. Read the instructions on the ballot, OTEC urged in the press release. And if you are unable to mail your ballot, drop it off at the secure drop boxes at your local OTEC office no later than May 14 or at OTEC headquarters in Baker City on May 15 before 10 a.m.

Each ballot comes with a voter’s guide with candidate profiles. Candidate profiles and other election details also appear on and will be included in the May issue of Ruralite. Customers voting by mail have the chance to win one of three $100 energy credits.

All of OTEC’s customers —the member-owners of the cooperative — can vote in the election. Members can view the annual meeting virtually on May 15 on the homepage of or on OTEC’s Facebook page. Members who do not have access to a computer will be able to call in to listen to the meeting. The toll-free call-in number is 1-877-309-2073. The access code is 798-185-293.

If you have any questions on the state of the annual meeting or any questions about your ballot or the election, call OTEC’s communications office at 541-524-2858 or email

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