EWEB 2012 budget reductions
In a continuing effort to reduce costs to lessen the impact of future rate increases, EWEB in mid-2012
reduced the size of its workforce and scaled back on some programs and services.
In all, EWEB has reduced its 2012 budget by about $2 million
As EWEB looked at the most recent financial forecasts, it became evident that the utility
was facing cost increases that, without budget reductions, would result in a 2013 electric rate
increase of more than 20 percent, as well as a significant water rate increase.
Immediate action was needed to stabilize costs and lessen the impact of future rate increases.
The primary drivers for cost increases are:
- Bonneville Power Administration's expected 2013 wholesale electric rate increase for EWEB and
other Northwest public utilities that rely on the federal power system (estimated to be
in the range of 15 percent to 18 percent, BPA supplies about 60 percent of EWEB power)
- Costs associated with relicensing EWEB's largest hydroelectric power facility, Carmen-Smith
- Reduced reimbursement funds from BPA for EWEB conservation activities
- Rising costs associated with acquiring renewable energy
- Lower revenues generated from the sale of surplus power
In response, EWEB is making difficult choices to focus resources on essential services that provide the highest
value to customers. The spending reductions will help to mitigate the impact of BPA and
other cost increases expected in 2013 and beyond, without reducing the reliable delivery of electricity
Power costs are the utility's largest expense, making up more than half of its annual budget.
Labor costs make up just over 20 percent of the total annual budget. However, part of the June 2012
included reducing a total of 53 positions, or approximately
9 percent of EWEB's workforce. About a third of
those jobs were vacant, but most were in the form of layoffs and early retirements.
The 2013 budget anticipates an additional reduction of approximately $7.5 million. However, in spite of 2012 and 2013 budget reductions,
EWEB will still have to raise electric and water rates. Read more about the board-approved
2013 rates increases, drivers for these actions, and a comparison of EWEB's current rates with other Northwest utilities:
See details of
conservation program changes
- Customer service
EWEB has reduced the number of customer service employees, which will likely impact customers'
ability to access services or information. Additionally, EWEB no longer staffs an
information desk in the lobby at its headquarters.
- Other reductions
EWEB will reduce its budget for traditional paid advertising, brochures and other media. Instead,
the utility will educate customers about its services and programs using less costly strategies
including social media, email lists, newsletters and other free forms of communications. EWEB
will also reduce participation and sponsorship of community events.
EWEB water rates remain among the lowest in the Pacific Northwest. EWEB plans to continue
investments to upgrade our aging
water system, as well as address other long-term needs
including securing a secondary water source. We expect water rate increases to continue
in each of the next several years to pay for these initiatives.
As part of the 2013 budgeting process, EWEB conducted two customer surveys in June 2012 to better
understand how customers value the utility's services. The phone and web survey were designed help EWEB and its elected Board of
Commissioners prioritize services to mitigate expected rate impacts in 2013 and beyond.
See summary results:
EWEB remains absolutely committed to
providing value and high quality services to the community, while preparing the utility to meet the
challenges and opportunities in the future.