Two women examining bills
EWEB Holds Prices Steady in 2019 12/05/2018

Eugene Water & Electric Board commissioners on Dec. 4 unanimously approved a $306.2 million 2019 budget that includes no residential electric or water price increases.

2019 will mark the fourth time in the past five years with no residential electric price increase, and the third year in a row with no jump in residential water prices. In 2018, commissioners reduced residential water prices by 4.5 percent.

Holding prices steady is part of our ongoing Affordability Initiative to become more efficient, lower operating costs and reduce and restructure debt while still investing in capital projects that help improve reliability and emergency preparedness.

The "utility burden" is a good benchmark for measuring our progress on affordability. In 2017, for example, the monthly water and electric bill for the average residential customer was about 4.1 percent of the Eugene median household income.

Through various cost-containment and efficiency strategies, that burden has been reduced to 3.8 percent. We will continue to look for ways to further ease the utility burden.

New flat price will help stabilize bills year-round

The budget also includes the elimination of the second, higher-cost residential electric consumption tier and replacing it with a single flat price - 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour. The second tier price, assessed once customers used more than 800 kilowatt hours in a month, was 7.5 cents.

The single flat rate will help lower bills during the winter heating season when about 60 percent of our customers previously moved into the higher-priced consumption tier. The single rate goes into effect Jan. 1.

Continued investment in community priorities

The 2019 budget includes funds to repair and modernize critical infrastructure, and invest in emergency preparedness and response, including emergency water stations across the community. EWEB continues to be a strong community partner as evidenced by our Customer Care Program that provides assistance for limited income customers of approximately $1.5 million. Additionally, EWEB provides approximately $500,000 annually in grants to local schools and $250,000 for green power and solar programs.

In 2019, we will continue to invest in programs to help customers reduce electricity and fossil fuel consumption. Next year's budget includes more than $3 million in conservation measures and incentives, including $500,000 in Efficient Electrification to help customers convert to low-carbon, electric fuel.