EWEB: Customer to pay same for power, less for water in 2018

About 160 Eugene Water and Electric Board customers lost service for the day. That was the plan. The repair job is part of EWEB's water reliability initiative, which launched in 2007. (SBG/Tom Adams)

EUGENE, Ore. - The price of power won't go up for a second year in a row for Eugene Water & Electric Board customers.

And the price of water is set to decrease on February 1, 2018.

EWEB commissioners voted unanimously Dec. 5 to adopt a 2018 budget of $300.9 million, $6.1 million less than the 2017 budget.

The rates are the result of EWEB's Affordability Initiative.

"The initiative includes cutting costs, delaying or reducing certain capital projects and eliminating some programs that don’t directly impact safety or reliability," explained Joe Harwood with EWEB. "This includes a reduction in staff that will reduce labor costs by $3.8 million in 2018 as part of our efforts to become more efficient."

Overall, the price of water will decrease 3 percent, Harwood said.

"On average, residential customers will realize a 4.5 percent drop in water prices effective Feb. 1," he added.

Electric prices will not increase in 2018. This is the third time in four years that EWEB avoided increasing the price of electricity. Rates remained the same in both 2017 or 2015.

To maintain rates, EWEB put cost-cutting measures into place to absorb an estimated $2.7 million increase in the price of wholesale power from the Bonneville Power Administration. BPA supplies 65 percent of the power EWEB delivers to customers.

"The decrease in water prices is largely achieved by removing a 3 percent price increase implemented in 2014 for development of a Willamette River water filtration plant," Harwood said. "EWEB’s emergency water supply program is now focused on developing capabilities to deliver water at a number of distribution sites spread throughout the community."

The 2018 EWEB budget includes $1 million for the development of alternative water supply projects and programs, he said.

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