EUGENE, Ore. - After two years of construction, the Eugene Water and Electric Board's new operations center in west Eugene is almost finished - and the project is under budget.
But will that save some money for ratepayers?
Construction started in August 2008 with a ceremonial shoveling of dirt for the new maintenance center for EWEB on Roosevelet Boulevard.
Two years later, what a difference.
By early fall, this will be the new home for the line crews, EWEB engineers, utility trucks and more.
Three huge concrete buildings are the nerve center of the project.
There are bioswales to collect storm water. and EWEB won't have to hook up to the local sewer system. An "eco-machine" will handle the waste.
"It's about a push in terms of our costs and we think this is something that's a good sustainability measure," EWEB Project Manager Ken Beeson said.
The project, of course, is not free.
You the ratepayers are paying about a 1.5 percent rate hike in stages to pay for the construction.
The good news is the entire project is coming under budget.
"That's due to the poor economy, but also due to some pretty thoughtful management of the project," according to Lance Robertson, EWEB Public Affairs Manager.
Beeson said the down economy led to much lower bids from contractors, saving about $12 million. The total tab for the project is now $72 million.
"You can say that it's money that we're not going to spend," Beeson said.
Beeson and Robertson said that will help lower the next EWEB rate hike on your bills, expected in about 6 months.
To be clear, the $12 million in savings won't cover all of the new expenses for EWEB. You will still pay a rate increase of about a half of 1 percent.
That money will go toward some of the bonds used to pay for the maintenance center.
Maintenance crews and staff will start moving in to the new center by mid-October.