Yakama Nation Tribal Council Chariman JoDe Goudy, left, and Benton Rural Electric Association President Mike Freepons, right, make the sale of electrical facilities official by signing documents. Benton REA Manager of Financial Administration John Porter assists.
As of Tuesday, December 13, 2016
TOPPENISH A utility provider will close its local office at the end of this year after its members supported a sale to the Yakama Nation.
Benton Rural Electric Association announced it will close the office at 410 S. G St. after members of the cooperative voted 3,458 to 384 to sell its electrical facilities within the Yakama Nation Indian Reservation boundaries.
“We want to thank each and every Benton REA member who took the time to participate in the voting process,” General Manager Mike Bradshaw said. “Benton REA will work with Yakama Power as much as possible to ensure a smooth transition.”
Bradshaw said 33 percent of the cooperative’s members voted, exceeding the 25 percent participation requirement to validate the vote.
The actual utility transfer began Thursday, officials said.
On Dec. 20, the final bill is due to Benton REA for accounts within the Yakama Nation reservation boundaries, according to a timeline provided by Benton REA.
Dec. 30 will be the last day the cooperative’s office in Toppenish will be open.
No Benton REA employees will be terminated as a result of the office closure, utility officials said.
Officials formally signed papers last month making the sale official.
The sale followed a request in 2015 by tribal officials seeking to have its utility, Yakama Power, purchase the infrastructure and take over electric service to current Benton REA members within the reservation’s boundaries.