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EWEB 2022 State of the Utility Address

March 25, 2022

2022 State of the Utility Address by Frank Lawson

As a public utility owned by the people of Eugene, it’s important for EWEB to be open and transparent with our customer-owners. The following State of the Utility Address, delivered by General Manager Frank Lawson at the March 1 EWEB Board meeting, highlights some key events, accomplishments and challenges from 2021.

"Good evening Commissioners, EWEB teammates, customer-owners and interested members of the community.

"Last year I used the term 'healthy' to describe EWEB, as we were learning to perform in the midst of a pandemic, which was having tangible impacts on our community and our organization. For 2021, I would describe EWEB as perservering, resolute, persistent and accomplished. There is only one reason I have the fortunate opportunity to use these words to describe EWEB, and that is our people, including front-line contributors, supervisors, managers, executives, board members, community partners, union, non-union, operations, administrative, management and support. It takes an entire team.

"I'll use most of the presentation portion of this agenda item to describe the results, issues, opportunities and trends. So I'll focus most of my State of the Utility comments on high-level thoughts.

"I'd like to start by thanking all the Commissioners. For all of us in the organization, it is a pleasure to work with a Board that is respectful, hardworking and cares about the services we provide and the legacy we leave. There were times that challenged you this past year, and we appreciate your support, leadershp, guidance and advice as we tackle some important issues in the years ahead.

"2021 saw some incredible results from EWEB. We delivered over 2.3 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and 9.5 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water to roughly 200,000 people in our community. We did this in a manner consistent with our values of safety, reliability, affordability, environmental stewardship and community. We did this under conditions that stressed our supply chains, put new inflationary pressures on our costs and in a treacherous workplace climate that saw 'The Great Resignation' (and in some cases migration) and a new labor market tightness, putting additional strain on EWEB's already loyal and professional workforce.

"In 2021, EWEB incredibly achieved eight of our nine organizational goals and sub-goals, with the supply chain issues associated with advanced meters being the only notable exception. Financially, we are sound, and becaue we use a 'source to tap' or 'source to switch' approach to delivery, reliability is solid and water quality is good.

"In 2021, we worked with the Board to update the strategic plan, further identifying key 3-5 year milestones and revising our values. We collaborated and aligned with the Board to develop direction and decision criteria on watershed recovery and protection, lower McKenzie hydro-projects, information system/technology investment planning, wildfire mitigation planning and multi-year cost-of-service-analysis (COSA). We published an electrification impact analysis report that will inform certain aspects of our integrated resource planning going forward. 

"We also experienced some challenges in 2021, and are working to address these issues transparently and intentionally. Most of the challenges manifested from specific issues and were contained to discrete trends, milestones or issues. We recognize our opportunity and obligation to take corrective action and work towards sustainable improvement. For that reason, many remedial activities are already included in our 2022 organizational or departmental goals. As I review the specific results later in this presentation, I'll elaborate on some of these challenges further.

"I'd like to close my comments the way I began, by thanking my EWEB teammates, the Board, and our many partners throughout the community and region. I'd personally like to thank the executive team and managers, with whom I work most closely and frequently. I'd also like to thank Anne Kah and Holly Shugart, who are vital to our success. Thank you all."

You can watch the full March 1 Board meeting here.