News & Media  »  OTEC and BTI Announce New Partnership to Develop Innovative Utility Training Center

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Joseph Hathaway, Oregon Trail Electric,, 541-524-2858
Sandy Mitchell, Baker Technical Institute,, 541-524-2651

First course dedicated to women only and begins in June!

July 12, 2021 – Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC) and Baker Technical Institute (BTI) are pleased to announce a new strategic partnership to begin developing an innovative utility training center located in Baker City, Oregon. The long-term goal is to create a comprehensive training site for people looking to enter the trade and to provide ongoing training for current utility workers. Phase one of the training center launch will focus on safety training for utility workers across Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, including OTEC. This effort will bolster BTI’s already extensive list of workforce development programs.

“We’re thrilled to support BTI in this process as industry experts; we believe the partnership is mutually beneficial for BTI and OTEC’s membership,” said Les Penning, OTEC’s Chief Executive Officer. “BTI is a key community resource for workforce development, and economic development and the growth and success of BTI is essential to the region’s economic health.”

“There is a real need in the utility industry for quality comprehensive training,” says Doug Dalton, BTI President. “This industry, like many of the other skilled trades, needs more people entering the field to meet the future workforce demand. The industry also needs access to high- quality training that supports employee growth and expertise. Our goal is to provide both. Leveraging our current mobile teaching platforms will also allow for us to take this training to where it is needed and give people opportunities to train that did not exist before.”

Beginning later this year, BTI will begin delivering utility specific safety training courses. Courses will include required and recommended safety trainings such as pole top rescue, hazard identification, forklift operations, traffic control, emergency medical response certification, and fall protection training. Instructional teams are being built that include current BTI trainers along with OTEC experienced professionals to help give utility specific instruction and support.

“Bringing a member-owned electric cooperative and a technical college together to build a training center like this is a game changer,” says Dalton. “OTEC has long been a respected leader in safety and training, making their involvement in this project key. Both BTI and OTEC have the core interest to help our rural communities thrive. Partnering to provide specialized training and growth will do just that.


About the cooperative

Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC) is a not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperative that serves nearly 60,000 residents in four counties in Eastern Oregon. Headquartered in Baker City, OTEC has district offices in Burns, John Day, and La Grande.

About Baker Technical Institute

Baker Technical Institute (BTI) a not-for-profit, technical college, is a leading provider of Career Technical Education programs focused on developing the next generation of skilled workers, technology innovators, entrepreneurs, and community leaders in rural communities. With campuses in Baker City and Prineville, Oregon, BTI offers cutting-edge education and training, leading to certification in high-wage, high-demand careers, such as heavy equipment operation, welding, truck driving and logistics, manufacturing, agricultural sciences, construction and other building trades, natural resources/environmental sciences, engineering, and health services. For more information, go to