In late November 1997, without much fanfare, the Salem Electric Cooperative’s (SE) Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve a contract to purchase approximately 15% of their electric load from a wind power project in Wyoming via the Bonneville Power Administration. The contract would extend through the year 2001. One year later, the SE staff prepared a recommendation to the Board for a rate increase of approximately 3.5% to cover the costs for the purchase of “green” power from the Foote Creek Rim wind power site near Arlington, Wyoming. The wind electricity was not going to be delivered until January 1999 due to additional testing. The rate increase was also approved unanimously by the SE Board.
By passing the additional costs on to all of their members through an act of green citizenship the Salem Electric Cooperative’s actions are a model for publicly-owned utilities across the country that are thinking about renewable energy.