We talked with Werner Buehler, General Manager of Oregon Trail Electric Consumers Cooperative
Werner Buehler is the general manager of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative based in Baker City, Oregon. Oregon Trail serves twenty-three thousand members in four rural counties in eastern Oregon. The co-op was founded in 1987, when the investor-owned utility CP National Corporation wanted to divest its assets and operations in this area.
PUF’s Steve Mitnick: What’s your job?
Werner Buehler: I’m the general manager and executive vice president of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative. It’s one of the largest electric co-ops in the state of Oregon serving Baker, Grant, Union and Harney counties. Our main corporate office is headquartered in Baker City, which hangs just on the eastern edge of the state at the base of the Elkhorn Mountains to the west and the Eagle Cap Mountains to the east. We’re right up against the Idaho border, about two hours north of Boise.
It’s very high desert, and very agricultural. It’s not what most people would think about Oregon. Historically, the economic driver has been logging, mining and agriculture. But we are surrounded by national forest lands. Our territory is quickly becoming popular for its recreational opportunities, clear mountain lakes and rivers, excellent hiking trails, and exceptional hunting and camping prospects.
PUF’s Steve Mitnick: What kind of organization is it?