EWEB weighs raising price of power, water

EWEB weighs raising price of power, water
EWEB provided these charts comparing power and water costs in an assortment of Northwest communities

EUGENE, Ore. - Water and electric could cost the typical Eugene customer another $6 a month starting in May if the Eugene Water & Electric Board commissioners approved proposed rate increases.

The EWEB board is holding the second of two public hearings on Tuesday, March 20, to gather public comments about the proposed electric and water rate increases that would take effect on May bills. The hearing will take place during Tuesday’s regular Board meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. in the North Building at EWEB headquarters, 500 E. Fourth Ave.

Three primary factors are driving the proposed 5.5 percent electric rate increase, EWEB said in a press release:

The additional charges would partially offset wholesale energy cost increases by the Bonneville Power Administration. Bonneville, which supplies EWEB with about 65 percent of its electricity needs, increased wholesale rates in October for its utility customers in the Northwest. EWEB commissioners have a general policy of passing on to customers any increase or decrease in Bonneville power costs.

Another contributing factor is that EWEB is receiving less energy from Bonneville under the new contract. Reduced power supply from Bonneville decreases the amount of energy EWEB is able to sell on the wholesale market, which will reduce revenues. Revenues from those wholesale power sales are used to keep customer rates lower.

Other power market factors, such as recession-related low wholesale power prices driven by weak demand, have reduced available revenues, also are contributing to the rate increase.

The effect of the proposed electric rate action would result in an increase of about $5.20 per month, or 5.5 percent, for the average residential customer, EWEB side.

Water rates would go up 3.8 percent - 93 cents per month for the average residential water customer.

EWEB said the money is needed to upgrade and invest in the water distribution system. The year 2012 will mark the fifth consecutive year of an ongoing and aggressive water pipe replacement program to make sure EWEB continues to deliver reliable, high-quality water to its customers, the utility said.

>>> More about the proposed rate increases