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EWEB Reduces Water Prices, Keeps Electric Prices Flat in 2018

December 08, 2017

Picture of two women looking over bills

Our Affordability Initiative is already delivering positive results for customers, with a water price decrease set to go into effect Feb. 1, 2018, and no electric price change for the second year in a row.

EWEB commissioners voted unanimously on Dec. 5 to adopt a 2018 budget of $300.9 million - $6.1 million less than the 2017 budget.

Launched last spring, the Affordability Initiative seeks to deliver value to customers and to better align spending levels to what our customers-owners expect. The initiative includes cutting costs, delaying or reducing certain capital projects and eliminating some programs that don't directly impact safety or reliability. This includes a reduction in staff that will reduce labor costs by $3.8 million in 2018 as part of our efforts to become more efficient.

The initiative builds on a multi-year program to reduce operating costs and pay off or restructure debt.

The tangible results of these efforts include an overall water price decrease of 3 percent. On average, residential customers will realize a 4.5 percent drop in water prices effective Feb. 1.

Electric prices will not increase in 2018 - marking the third time in four years that we have been able to keep electric prices flat. We did not increase electric prices in 2017 or 2015.

"It's been a lot of work by the whole organization over the last several years," said Chief Financial Officer Susan Fahey. "And it's nice to be able to share such good news with our customer-owners."

While reducing costs, we have been able to retain programs that are important to the community and our customers. The 2018 budget includes an increase in spending on conservation incentive programs of approximately $250,000 compared with 2017 program levels. And we continue to be a strong community partner as evidenced by our $1.5 million Customer Care Program that provides bill payment assistance for limited income customers.

The improved financial position allowed us to absorb the estimated $2.7 million impact from the Bonneville Power Administration's wholesale price increase for energy without passing those additional costs on to our customers. Bonneville supplies about 65 percent of EWEB's power, and increased the price it charges utilities in October 2017.

We know there is more work ahead when it comes to making EWEB more affordable for our customers, and we look forward to delivering more positive results in 2018.

Stay tuned.