Disconnects for unpaid bills begins today

EASTERN OREGON – A reminder for customers in the Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative service areas OTEC will resume normal collection activity, including disconnections and late fees for unpaid utilities, on today (Wednesday, March 17, 2021).

OTEC 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: “Our responsibility is to our entire membership because we are member owned. That is why we are resuming normal collection activities, 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 via phone, email, and mail.

If you have not been in contact with a member service representative, please contact OTEC as a soon as possible so we can work with you. There is still time to make arrangements, set up a payment plan or seek financial assistance to help with your account. We are also actively helping members find other community assistance resources if needed, such as food, housing, or clothing.

“We know many our members are still impacted by the pandemic,” said Wirfs “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.”

If you have questions, please call 541-523-3616 and a member service representative will assist you.

 OTEC offers several convenient and secure ways to pay your bill:

Online bill pay – visit otec.coop and click on “New User Id” on the homepage or download the free “MyOTEC” app through the Apple App store or the Google Play store.

By phone – call 541-523-3616 to speak to a member service representative to pay with a credit or debit card, anytime between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays.

Payment drop box and kiosks – drop off payments in OTEC’s secure drop boxes available 24/7 in front of the Baker City, La Grande, John Day and Burns offices. Payment kiosks are also available at the Baker Truck Corral in Baker City and Chester’s Thriftway in John Day.

Members can also sign up for special billing services such as prepaid metering, levelized billing, budget billing or auto-draft.