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EWEB General Manager Delivers 2024 State of the Utility

March 08, 2024 Jen Connors, EWEB Communications

Screenshots of EWEB report cover images

In his annual message to the Board of Commissioners, the public and EWEB workforce, General Manager Frank Lawson described EWEB as a strong organization, "because of our people, present and past, including boards and staff who have had the foresight to make prudent decisions and investments on behalf of our customers and community."

Lawson shared highlights of 2023, including electric and water resiliency projects and affirming the utility's recognition of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. He also emphasized challenges such as increasing risks from climate change and aging infrastructure.

Lawson delivered his address at the March 5 public Board of Commissioners meeting. 

You can watch and listen to the address above or read the speech below.


President McRae, commissioners, staff, and members of the public:

At a time of turbulence and political polarization, I am proud to work for an organization that places high regard not just on what we do, but how we do it. We attempt to operate in a manner consistent with our values of safety, reliablity, affordability, environmental stewardship, respecting our community and culture. That starts with you, commissionsers, and we thank you for your service and your respectful way of providing guidance and oversight.

EWEB is a strong organization because of our people, present and past, including boards and staff who have had the foresight to make prudent decisions and investments on behalf of our customers and community. We are a confident organization—one that has the conviction to make and see through tough decisions, working for the collective good of our community at-large, while also recognizing the need to acknowledge and learn from our mistakes, be more dynamic and nimble, looking for opportunities to continuously improve. For example, EWEB completed 57 continuous improvement projects in 2023, not to mention the EWEB enterprise solutions project that in itself a CI and moderization program.

As for a few 2023 highlight—over the past year, we codified our commitment to resiliency, including the ability to mitigate the impacts of disruptive events through our planning and investments, response, and recovery. Being resilient isn’t just about infrastructure; it’s also about money, workforce, information, and the resiliency of our decisions. Resiliency is becoming a “one-EWEB” rallying cry and part our everyday thinking.

From a workforce perspective, I'd like to thank the team, including IBEW leadership, union membership, and members of the EWEB bargaining team who completed a new collective bargaining agreement in 2023.

Another highlight of 2023 was a commitment to, and recognition of, the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our success. Up front, the policy directly states why this commitment is important, highlighting the benefits necessary to effectively fulfill our mission.

EWEB has challenges. Increasing risks from climate and a hard-to-navigate regulatory environment, aging infrastructure, supply constraints and at-times scarcity, changing energy markets, cyber and physical threats, inflationary pressures on materials and contractors, and a tight labor market are just a few.

But with challenge comes opportunity and the people of EWEB are poised to continue to fulfill our mission whatever the environment with intent and purpose, navigating the tension between focus and scale that comes from being a "little—big utility" with lots of complexity, lots of choices.

Communications are critical to how EWEB operates, and I can’t express more my gratitude to our communications department for their growth and success in 2023. From integrated resource planning, to Leaburg decommissiong, to E. 40th and College Hill water storage projects, to rate increases, to internal communications to..well, the list goes on. The quantity and quality of their outreach reached another level in 2023.

EWEB has two drivers of culture—one for those who fulfill our daily mission, keeping the “flow” of drinking water, electrons, money, and information, and another for those who are commited to ensuring that we can continue to provide those services next week, next month, next year, 20 years from now, all while navigating the multitudes of threats and changes of which we are presented.

Commissioners, I’d like to close by thanking all of you and all of EWEB staff for how you conduct yourselves. You are fostering a culture of intentional actions and outcomes, continuous improvement, and diverse perspectives, that is respectful, equitable, and inclusive. You all are dedicated to your public service, your professions, the local governance model, and your commitment to serve our community. If I appear confident in EWEB, it is because of the people of who I have the pleasure of working with.

Thank you.

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EWEB is a customer-owned public utility. We provide electric service to around 100,000 customers and water service to more than 60,000 customers in the Eugene area.