EWEB 2023 year in review
In 2023, EWEB invested in our community with grants, rebates and an array of other programs and measures aimed at fulfiling our core values of safety, reliability, affordability, environmental responsibility and community/culture.Find Out More
EWEB Recognized with Excellence in Communications Awards from American Public Power Association
We are proud to have been recognized with two Excellence in Public Power Communications Awards for 2023 from the American Public Power Association (APPA).Find Out More
Let's talk turkey. If a disaster strikes, is your family ready?
Many of us avoid discussing politics over the dinner table in the spirit of family peace and harmony. But here's a topic that can bring everyone together: emergency preparedness.Find Out More
EWEB To Hold First of Two Public Hearings on Proposed 2024 Budget and Prices
At the Nov. 7 Board of Commissioners meeting, EWEB staff will present a proposed budget that includes rate increases necessary to support utility operations and make needed infrastructure investments.Find Out More
EWEB now offering a Smart Thermostat rebate program
EWEB is excited to announce a new residential rebate program to provide electric customers with free or greatly discounted Smart Thermostats to customers whose primary source of heating is from an electric forced-air furnace or heat pump.Find Out More
Your EWEB Rates at Work: Investing Today for a Resilient Tomorrow
For more than a century, EWEB has planned, built, and maintained the systems that deliver safe, reliable, and environmentally responsible power and water to Eugene homes and businesses.Find Out More
Have an energy efficient and water conscious holiday season
The holiday season is officially upon us. Whether you are celebrating a special holiday or just sharing a meal with close friends and family, hosting can cause some unexpected energy and water usage increases – resulting in a higher utility bill. We’ve prepared some tips on how you can save energy and water this holiday season.Find Out More
River Road Substation returns to service after infrastructure upgrades
Supply chain shortages and proactive infrastructure investments, including constructing seismic foundations and implementing control modernization, have played a role in the substation's return-to-service timeline.Find Out More
Public Power Week Poster Contest Winners 2023
The results are in! View the winning posters from EWEB's 2023 Public Power Week Poster Contest.Find Out More
The importance of managed electric vehicle charging explained
EWEB has much to handle related to EV charging infrastructure. To ensure that the switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles reduces the most emissions possible at the lowest cost possible, we need to implement managed EV charging.Find Out More
Fall is the perfect time to prepare for winter storm season
Winter is coming, which increases the likelihood of storm-related power outages. It's important to be prepared, and there are simple actions you can take right now.Find Out More
EWEB lead annual "Spill Drill"
EWEB coordinates drill as part of protecting Eugene’s drinking waterFind Out More
EWEB seeks public input on electric vehicle, demand response standards
EWEB is seeking public input on the potential adoption of updated standards for electric vehicles (EVs) and demand response programs. The potential standards are derived from the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA.Find Out More
As prices increase, what can you do to take control of monthly utility bills?
EWEB’s Board of Commissioners is considering rate changes in 2024. Here are some ways to save money and manage your bill, and how EWEB can help.Find Out More
Public Power Week Poster Contest 2023
It’s that time of year again! October 1-7 is Public Power Week. To celebrate, EWEB is holding our annual poster contest for fifth graders in our service area. Help us pick the winners.Find Out More
- Show More
EWEB Makes Electric Mobility Accessible For All
January 11, 2023 • Ashley Cissna, EWEB Communications
This article was originally published in NWPPA’s Jan. 2023 Bulletin.
Drive down any urban street in the Northwest, and you’ll see an electric vehicle in the next lane. Ride down any commuter bike path, and you’ll see an electric bike zooming along.
Electric mobility is everywhere. But it’s not accessible to everyone.
The Eugene Water & Electric Board—a publicly owned electric and water utility serving about 200,000 people in the Eugene, Oregon, area—is making a concerted effort to bridge the gap between availability and accessibility of electric mobility through EV car shares, community grants, and rebates. New programs launched in the last year have proven so successful that EWEB is expanding them.
“It’s one thing to encourage adoption of electric mobility. It’s another thing to make electric mobility accessible,” said EWEB Business Line Manager Juan Serpa Muñoz, who oversees the development of EWEB’s electric mobility programs. “Availability is not accessibility. We want our programs to be accessible, not just available to all members of the community.”
A 2021 EWEB study found that EVs deliver greater financial and environmental benefits than other electrification efforts, such as electrifying space and water heating. When customers own an EV, they save money on gas and maintenance. But most EVs currently on the market cost thousands more up front than equivalent gas-powered cars. It’s a classic Catch-22: the people who can benefit most from the lower operating costs of an EV can’t afford to purchase one.
So, while it is exciting to see more electric mobility options on the road, it does pose the question: Is the distribution of electric vehicles equitable?
“Social equity must be intentional, at the forefront, not an afterthought of program design,” Serpa Muñoz said. “We try to consider accessibility in all the work we do, with the knowledge that not all programs can be accessible to everyone.”
Serpa Muñoz described how a prosperous business owner may have the financial ability to purchase an EV but could hesitate because of a lack of information. On the other hand, a cashier at a grocery store may not have the money to purchase even the most inexpensive EV. The same rebates and educational resources may be available to both people, but the cashier can’t access an EV because of their income. Programs cannot be standard for both customers; each requires different accessibility options.
EWEB has encouraged electric mobility for years through a rebate for EV chargers. But in April 2022, EWEB introduced several new programs aimed at helping remove the financial barrier to electric mobility. These programs are part of EWEB’s suite of carbon-conscious programs that fall under the new Green Options umbrella.
One program is an EV-sharing program with Forth Mobility, called GoForth CarShare. EWEB and Forth have partnered with three local agencies—Lane Transit District, St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County, and the City of Eugene—to bring three EVs to under-served populations.
These EVs are located in areas with low EV adoption, and they are available to rent for as little as $4 an hour—making them accessible to more people. The vehicle provided by St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County, a local service provider for those experiencing financial hardship within the Eugene area, is located at a newly constructed affordable housing project for low-income families.
“Four major impediments to viability for low-income families are childcare, affordable housing, food insecurity, and transportation,” said Terry McDonald, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County. “This partnership gave us the opportunity to demonstrate how this type of vehicle transportation through a sharing program could be really advantageous to low-income families and populations. Done in a sustainable manner, it’s even better.”
The GoForth CarShare EVs in Eugene are part of a larger network of car-sharing locations Forth is piloting across Oregon, with eight cars currently located in the state. Two of the EVs are in Eugene, with another planned for early 2023.
The Eugene locations are exceedingly popular. According to data tracked by Forth, the two active cars in Eugene have logged some of the most miles statewide. Forth also found that cars located at affordable housing projects are generally used the most, and one of the vehicles in Eugene is located at such a project. The second vehicle located in the city is at a popular Lane Transit District bus station. This bus station provides members of the community with multiple services, including park and ride, secure bike storage, and multiple bus lines. These amenities provide users of the car share program multiple methods to access the vehicle. The location also has three EV charging stations, one of which is dedicated to the car-sharing vehicle.
EWEB is also bridging the gap in electric mobility equity with new Electric Mobility Community Grants. These grants are awarded to nonprofits, academic institutions, or public organizations that serve the Eugene area and are seeking ways to improve electric mobility.
“These agencies are experts at what they do and the populations they serve, and we see an opportunity to increase equitable access to electric mobility by supporting them through our grant program,” Serpa Muñoz said.
Applications for the grants began in April 2022 and evaluation began in August. The committee reviewing the grants scored each proposal on several criteria—project feasibility; use of funds; innovation and analysis; social equity; and the educational, environmental, and community benefits. Based on the scores, EWEB awarded six grants of approximately $25,000 each to local organizations.
The winning proposals covered a broad range of projects, including an electric school bus for a small rural school district, two e-bike-sharing programs, two EV charging stations and a fleet of electric tricycles to be used in the administration of another local bike-share program. EWEB will begin accepting proposals for 2023 grants on Earth Day. EWEB hopes the grant program will encourage more organizations to include electric mob
ility in future projects and thus increase the accessibility of electric mobility to underserved communities.
Rebates for EV chargers have been part of EWEB’s electric mobility efforts for years, but recently the utility added rebates for e-bikes to the mix. In 2022, EWEB launched a $300 rebate for customers who buy e-bikes. The program was so successful that, within four months, EWEB increased the number of allowed rebates per household from one to two. A couple months later, EWEB also expanded the rebate to cover professionally converted e-bikes.
The growth in rebate applications has been explosive. The first month after EWEB announced the rebate, 47 rebate applications were submitted. In October, the number skyrocketed to 231 applications—the largest number of applications to that point. As of Dec. 19, EWEB had awarded 963 rebates to new e-bike owners.
“E-bikes are far less expensive than EVs, so that can open the door to greater levels of access to electric mobility for people with lower incomes,” Serpa Muñoz said. “Our next step is to expand our low-income electric mobility programs and partnerships, including potential e-bike lending efforts at multi-family affordable housing locations.”
EWEB still has some work to do on ensuring equity with the e-bike rebates. Although rebates have been most popular with customers living in more affluent neighborhoods, the data shows that 36% of rebates are going toward the purchase of moderate-cost e-bikes. EWEB is hopeful that, over time, the cost of e-bikes and EVs will continue to drop and the distribution of rebates throughout the city will continue to become more equitable.
One of the most important ways EWEB serves low-income customers is by keeping rates low. Since the funding for EWEB’s electric mobility projects is provided by credits from the Oregon Clean Fuels Program, these programs don’t impact customer bills.
With the Clean Fuels Program, each EV within the utility’s service territory earns credits, which EWEB can then sell. EWEB uses these funds to encourage electric mobility in populations that may not otherwise have access to this new technology.
“We are projecting that our credits will continue to increase over the next several years. We have no concerns that funding for these programs will become an issue,” Serpa Muñoz said. “And that means we’ll be able to keep helping make electric mobility both available and accessible to our customers.”
Our e-bike incentive increases access to more affordable, zero emission electric bikes and supports our community’s commitment to transportation electrification and active transportation options.
You don't have to own a car to drive electric. Our partnership with Forth Mobility brings three electric car sharing stations to Eugene, including a dedicated station for residents of St. Vincent de Paul's Iris Place.