If you look at your EWEB bill, you will notice different types of charges that make up the total amount owed. These types of charges vary by customer class (residential, commercial, and industrial), but fixed charges (Cost of Basic Service) and volumetric charges (kWh and KGAL*) are always present.
What is the Basic Charge on my EWEB bill?
In Feb. 2023, the electric basic charge for residential service increased $2.24 per month, and the water basic charge increased $1.26 per month. Residential customers now pay a monthly basic charge of $23.50 for electricity and $22.24 for water (based on the most common water meter size of <1 inch).
The increase in basic charges is an important part of our continuing efforts to better recover the fixed costs of providing service, which don't change regardless of how much energy or water is used. These costs include equipment like meters, poles, transformers, pipes, and trucks, as well as labor to provide customers with safe and reliable service.
The basic charge supports fleet, facility, and customer service functions, such as line maintenance, right-of-way clearing, customer service support and administrative responsibilities.
These costs are fixed because EWEB incurs the same cost to build the line, install the pipe, and maintain the systems that deliver water and electricity to your home, regardless of how much energy or water you use in any given month.
To power homes and business, we need wires and poles to reach across our service territory of about 240 square miles. EWEB owns and maintains more than 1,000 miles of overhead and underground distribution lines, 129 circuit miles of transmission lines, 38 substations, and more than 17,000 transformers, all of which carry operating and maintenance costs. To keep our equipment clear and help prevent tree-related outages, we proactively prune more than 300 line miles each year.
Delivering water requires similar fixed expenses. Your water system includes a filtration plant, 22 storage tanks, 25 pump stations, and approximately 800 miles of transmission and distribution mains.
Our crews need trucks, equipment, and tools to build and maintain all those pipes and wires. And of course, we need buildings to house the fleet and equipment, all of which are part of the fixed charge on your bill.
Your fixed or basic charge also includes business functions—billing, information technology, phone systems, costs related to accounting, financing, collections, dispatching, customer service and communication are all required to do business. Although labor and employee benefits account for less than 20% of EWEB’s total budget, we proudly offer a healthy workplace, competitive pay and comprehensive benefit to the dedicated and qualified people who keep EWEB running 24/7/365.
In summary, no matter how much or how little energy and water you use each month, there are certain costs incurred. The fixed charge is intended to ensure each customer is paying a fair share of the cost to access electric and water services.
Does the new basic charge cover all EWEB’s fixed costs?
The quick answer is no. EWEB periodically completes what is known as a Cost of Service Analysis which determines how costs should be allocated and recovered through rates.
Our most recent study, completed in 2022, showed that if we were to recover all the fixed costs through the basic charge, the amount would be much higher, at $78 per month for electric and $35 per month for water.
Looking ahead, we will need to continue to design rate structures that reflect the true costs of providing electric and water services.
* kWh (kilowatt hour) is a measure of how much energy you’re using. One kilowatt hour is the amount of energy you’d use if you kept a 1,000 watt appliance running for an hour. KGAL is short for kilogallon, or 1,000 gallons. An average household in Eugene uses about 1,600 kWh of energy and about 9 KGALs (9,000 gallons) of water per month.