Pre-Meeting Q & A from the Board - April 3, 2018
The following questions have been posed by Commissioners prior to the scheduled Board Meeting on April 3, 2018. Staff responses are included below, and are sorted by Agenda topic.
2017 Year-end Audited Financial Statements and Management Letter (FAHEY)
Under Capital Asset Activity Section: What was the driver for the increase in Plant Service costs from 2016 to 2017? Large Electric Utility projects that were placed in service in 2017 included:
- Remaining EMX projects - $2.9 million
- Carmen Smith Crane refurbishment - $3 million
- AMI Technology Infrastructure and Integration - $4.4 million
- Substation breaker replacements - $1.0 million, and
- General distribution system renewal and replacement work - $8.0 million.
What land purchases drove the increase from 827 to 943? Was this for the Secondary Water Source, Carmen Smith improvements or something else? The $116,000 increase in Electric Future Use property was costs-do-date for the land acquisition for future Thurston Substation reconfiguration.
Is the $4.8 million gain captured in the table that follows, if so how? The $4.8 million gain on the 2016 sale of the Smith Creek Hydroelectric Project is not captured in the Capital Assets table on page 10 of the Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A). It was reported as 2016 non-operating revenue and included in the Non-Operating Revenue and Expense section on page 8 of the MD&A.
2017 Year-end Audited Financial Statements and Management Letter (FAHEY)
Are there other SASB metrics that we don't report or are these all that SASB has that apply to EWEB? The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) started developing industry standards in 2012, and Utility standards were developed a few years ago. There are eight topics of disclosure for Water and 8 that apply to EWEB's electric operations. EWEB first reported on these voluntary standards in the 2016 annual report and started with four water and five electric metrics that EWEB currently tracks. SASB is in the process of updating their standards with a projected completion date of mid-2018.
What is the threshold that EWEB would be considered to have "Total fresh water sourced from regions with high or extremely high baseline water stress"? The benchmark for determining high or extremely high baseline water stress is determined using World Resources Institute's (WRI) Water risk tool. The risk is based on a variety of attributes for "physical quantity," which includes characteristics such as seasonal variability and drought severity among other things; "physical quality," which is exclusive to return flow ratio and upstream protected land; and "regulatory and reputational risk." Currently, the sources in the Eugene-Springfield area are classified as "low to medium risk", which is a risk of 1-2 out of 5, with 5 being extremely high risk.
Under Audit Comments: "Board was not in compliance with the requirements of Oregon Revised Statute 295, Depositories of Public Funds and Securities. The results of testing indicated that the Board did not notify the State Treasurer in writing of new depositories utilized during the year within the required three day timeframe." Please describe the situation further and why the Treasurer didn't receive the required notification. This section of the statute changed from the last time EWEB opened an account with a different financial institution. Finance missed this step in error, and the State Treasurer has now been notified. The State uses the information to calculate statewide collateralization limits for financial institutions. Based on EWEB's deposit levels, the delayed reporting did not have a material effect nor were EWEB funds subjected to additional risk.
Customer Service Policy Revisions (FAHEY)
Under the Will Be Easy to Do Business with Section: "a trip to our Downtown Eugene location" do we need to call this out as an option in the policy when we may be adding more locations or changing the location of where customers visit? Thank you for your feedback. In the next proposed revision, the language will be changed to a more generic "EWEB's customer service location(s)".
When was the Appeals Committee established? The original Appeals Committee was formed in the 2005 timeframe.
We give notice for planned outages. Given the recent complaint about the portable toilet, do we need to call out need to notify customers about inconveniences and duration? For basic Electric planned outages there is a minimum notice of 24 hours for residential customers and 48 hours for businesses. As a practice we attempt to provide at least 48 hours notice to all customers on the list for the outage as it is possible there may be in-home businesses. Most notices are greater than 48 hours if they are of any significant size. The outage notification includes the start and stop time, if we will have traffic modifications and if we will be entering the customer's property. (PRICE)
EWEB is currently refining notification processes for project specific schedules and impacts to neighbors. This is an "operational procedure" that will be published. (DAMEWOOD)
"Common-use Facilities associated with multifamily structures comprised of more than four (4) Living Units will be served on the General Service Price Schedule and must be billed in the name of the Eugene Water & Electric Board Customer Service Policy - All Utilities Property Owner. " What is the General Service Price Schedule? Is that something EWEB has or the property owner? The general service price schedules apply to all non-residential, non-contracted customers and are approved by the Board. Based on last month's proposed revisions, the price schedules will be included as appendices to the customer service policy.
How much these landlords charge to customers seems restricted by the following policy; how does EWEB enforce this requirement? "Redistribution of utility charges by the Customer for Shared Meter services is permitted only for the purpose of allocating the cost of service to individual tenant-occupants. Such allocations shall be based solely on an equitable distribution of actual utility billings for services provided by EWEB through the Shared Meter. In no case shall the sum of the EWEB charges redistributed by any EWEB Customer to others be greater than the actual charges billed by EWEB in any given billing period without EWEB's written consent." Submetering is regulated by ORS 90.536 which states that "the landlord may not bill or collect more money from tenants for utilities or services than the utility or service provider charges the landlord." The statute does allow landlords to bill tenants for a pro rata portion of third-party costs incurred to prepare the submeter bills. Submetering primarily applies to water meters, and EWEB investigates landlord charges when tenants notify us of potential statute violation.
Under Flat Rate Fire Protection Service: "If water is to be used for test purposes, the Customer shall notify EWEB's Water Operations Department in advance of the testing." Is this comment intended to cover any kind of testing or just testing as it relates to fire protection? The policy language is intended for "fire flow testing." We will clarify for consistency. (DAMEWOOD)
Unauthorized Use of Water during Curtailment: Anyone found using water for a curtailed use, as defined during declaration of mandatory water curtailment, and without permission from EWEB, shall be: a) For first violation: Issued a written request of ceasing use of water and a warning for issuance of a fine if unauthorized use continues; b) For second violation: See Water, Water Service Charges and Prices." Why do we refer to another policy for the second point? Thank you for your feedback, this will be corrected. (DAMEWOOD)
Please send the map of IT projects and indicate which projects the contracts in the consent calendar support, if any.
CVE Technologies (BARTON)
CVE Technologies supports the following:
- Electric SCADA Infrastructure Refresh and Simplification - The infrastructure for Electric SCADA is at its end of life and needs replacement. We also see an opportunity to reduce the complexity of this system's underlying infrastructure.
- Compute & Storage Upgrades / Customer Information System - Several components of our compute cluster are nearing end of life and need replacement. We also need to add storage capacity to support the new Customer Information System.
- MetroE (Wide Area Network) Replacement - Next year we plan to begin the replacement of the MetroE system as it is nearing end of life. This is another area where we can simplify our systems.
The following picture visualizes which IT projects are supported by CVE Tech:
CDW-G (BARTON) - CDW-G is the Value Added Reseller we purchase the majority of items related to desktop support and licensing for our backup/recovery system. These are frequent, low cost, non-strategic purchases which is why they are not pictured above.
Make IT Happen (BARTON) - The Vegetation Management Replacement Project managed by Make IT Happen does not meet the "major" (cost level) threshold to be visualized in the picture above. This is a lower cost software integration that is used by a single department.
Pacific Excavation (DAMEWOOD)
I applaud EWEB coordinating work with the city to upgrade water mains, fire hydrants, etc and coordinate work with the city. This is absolutely how it should be done and I appreciate your efforts to coordinate with the city to do this work efficiently. EWEB Water Division coordinates with the City of Eugene on Street Preservation Projects and other work on a frequent basis. We are continuously seeking ways to make that coordination more efficient and effective, but we have also seen some good results and savings by closely working together on projects.
Schnabel Engineering (MCCANN)
Safety Inspection Report for Carmen-Smith: Given the timing of when the RFP was started in November and recent communications with FERC, I would like to know if the scope of this bid includes the parameters FERC recently outlined EWEB needed to have audited by a third party? The new contract with Schnabel Engineering does not include any scope related to the FERC-requested independent peer review of our Owners Dam Safety Program. EWEB is still working with the FERC to define the scope of that peer review. FERC has not requested that EWEB hire a consultant as part of the peer review, however. The Schnabel contract covers the independent consulting safety inspection required by FERC's regulations for dam owners (18 CFR Part 12). This is commonly known as the Part 12 Inspection report, and hydro project owners must complete an independent Part 12 inspection and report every five years for each of their "high hazard" facilities. EWEB does this for our Carmen-Smith and Leaburg/Walterville projects. The Schnabel contract also includes scope related to the inspection of our spillways which has been requested by the FERC following the last year's Oroville Dam incident in northern California.
WESCO Distribution (PRICE)
How was this company selected? The contract for Electrical Products is a cooperative contract solicited and awarded by the League of Oregon Cities (LOC) on behalf of National Purchasing Partners (NPP). The LOC follows the Oregon Public Procurement Rules and issued a Request for Proposals. They received and evaluated four responses, WESCO was one of two contractors awarded contracts. We plan to use this NPP contract for Network transformers and potentially the upcoming expiration of our underground cable contract until the new contracts for each can be established. It would be exercised mainly if we have emergency replacements for network transformers and cable.
Westates Flagman (DAMEWOOD/PRICE)
How many flaggers do we have on staff? When do we use contract flagging services? EWEB has 12 Utility Support workers whose duties include flagging on a routine basis for internal EWEB capital and large O&M projects. The Utility Support group also routinely contracts flagging services out to cover for spikes in construction work or when traffic control requires additional flaggers. Capital and large O&M projects typically require BOLI prevailing wages due to the capital expenditure levels. In addition, EWEB requires flagging services for most of our vegetation (tree trimming) work, which is not subject to prevailing wages, so we have a separate contract to manage flagging at a reduced cost. By managing a separate contract for non-BOLI work, EWEB saves customers money for flagging services.
Resolution No. 1812, PERS Employer Incentive Fund Application to Make Deposit (FAHEY)
The resolution states that the "the maximum matching amount that may be reserved by a participating public employer is not to exceed the greater of: Five percent of the unfunded actuarial liability attributable to the employer; or $300,000"; why is $300,000 a binding parameter? Although we do not have specific insight into the legislative intent, the $300,000 parameter provides smaller employers better access to the incentive funds. For example, a small public agency with a UAL of $100,000 would only be able to apply for $5,000 without having a not to exceed amount in addition to the 5%.
Use of Plaza Fountain for Community Event (PRICE)
When did staff provide the initial go ahead to use this space? EWEB agreed to host the event on March 7th. EWEB plans to host the event, with or without the extra accommodations by Peace Health.