BAKER CITY — Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative will resume normal collection activity, including disconnections and late fees for unpaid utilities, on Wednesday, March 17.
The Eastern Oregon power provider temporarily suspended disconnections and late fees on March 17, 2020, due to financial hardships placed on members due to COVID-19.
“We feel that it’s time to begin normal collection activities in order to be good stewards of our members’ financial resources and keep the cooperative operationally and financially resilient.” said Eric Wirfs, OTEC’s director of member services. “It was a difficult decision for us, but we continue to see the number of unpaid accounts climb. The amount owed from these accounts would be enough to possibly necessitate a rate increase if we do not shift measures to help members bring their accounts up to date.”
Wirfs added OTEC owes responsibility to the entire membership because it is member owned.
“That is why we are resuming normal collection activities,” he stated, “to avoid any potential negative monetary impact on all our members.”
Over the last year, OTEC’s member service representatives have continued to contact members to help them stay current with their bills by offering guidance for financial assistance, local resources, and flexible payment options. In the lead-up to the resumption of normal collection activity, OTEC has contacted or has attempted to contact every member with a delinquent account.
If you have not been in contact with a member service representative, contact OTEC as a soon as possible. There is time to make arrangements, set up a payment plan or seek financial assistance to help with your account. OTEC also is helping members find other assistance resources, such as food, housing or clothing.
“We know many our members are still impacted by the pandemic,” Wirfs said. “We urge those who are struggling to pay their bills to call us and we will work with you on many different payment plan options to avoid disconnecting power.”
OTEC Member Services is available at 541-523-3616 or visit www.otec.coop for more information.