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Electric Cooperatives Concerned About Sage Grose Proposals

The head of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association told lawmakers in Washington DC Wednesday that proposals to protect the greater sage grouse in Oregon could wind up raising the cost of electricity for rural ratepayers.

Dave Markham is also President & CEO of Central Electric Cooperative in Redmond.  And his remarks were part of testimony he gave to the House Committee on Natural Resources about the management of Electricity Rights of Way on federal lands. 

Markham says one of the Bureau of Land Management proposals would require utilities to bury power lines that run through key sage grouse habitat.

He says that provision would essentially mean “lights out” for the
Harney Electric Co-op in Eastern Oregon.

“They serve slightly more than 4,000 members over a service territory that’s the size of the state of West Virginia.  It would basically put this co-op entirely out of business,” said Markham.

BLM spokesman Jeff Clark says the agency is considering a variety of options and points out that no decision has yet been made.  

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