Merkley, Wyden announce fed investment in electric infrastructure

Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced Monday, Nov. 4, a nearly $8.5 million electric infrastructure investment in West Oregon Electric Cooperative, Inc., a Vernonia-based co-op which serves communities throughout Columbia, Yamhill, Tillamook, Washington and Clatsop counties.

Merkley serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program that funded Monday’s grant.

“As I travel around our state to meet with community leadership and hold annual town halls in each of Oregon’s 36 counties, I hear from families and local leaders about important efforts, big and small, to make our communities more energy efficient,” Merkley said in a press release. “For Oregon’s rural communities, electric co-ops play a critical role in achieving that goal. This USDA investment will help West Oregon Electric Cooperative modernize its energy infrastructure—meaning savings for Oregonians, and reduced energy use for our environment.”

“Electric co-ops are a crucial part of our country’s urgent need to improve energy efficiency, both to keep utility bills affordable for rural consumers and to lower energy use overall,” Wyden said in the release. “This federal investment in West Oregon Electric Cooperative achieves those goals for Oregonians living in our state’s northwest corner.”

This investment, which is part of a $1.2 billion USDA Rural Development program, will connect 79 new consumers, fund eight new miles and improve 41 miles of existing line, including four transmission miles.