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
Salmon Return to Finn Rock Reach
Finn Rock Reach and other restoration projects throughout the Middle McKenzie provide conditions to help young fish survive to adulthood.Find Out More
EWEB programs reflect community values
EWEB is here to serve our customer-owners and provides programs that reflect the values of our community.Find Out More
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In August, we reached a milestone: EWEB’s five-member elected Board of Commissioners approved an action plan to guide our energy supply choices for the next 2-3 years. How did we get here?Find Out More
Women in STEM: EWEB Engineer Laura Ohman's second degree brings a lifetime of benefits
EWEB Engineer Laura Ohman shares how getting her second degree was one of the most difficult and rewarding things she's ever accomplished.Find Out More
Planning for a Future of Reliable, Affordable, Environmentally Responsible Energy
The challenges revealed by Eugene Water & Electric Board’s integrated resource planning process mirror those facing the Northwest.Find Out More
Please join your neighbors in reducing energy use today
With excessive temperatures and wildfire conditions affecting power generation across the region, EWEB is encouraging customers to safely conserve power.Find Out More
Women in STEM: Meet our servant leader and maker of tough decisions
Karen Kelley, Chief Operations Officer at EWEB, describes herself as a "servant leader," offering support and mentoring to four division managers at EWEB.Find Out More
Planning for a Reliable, Affordable, Green Energy Future
EWEB General Manager Frank Lawson publishes an op-ed in the Eugene Weekly about EWEB's IRP.Find Out More
Women in STEM: Meet the woman responsible for managing our wholesale energy agreements to ensure we meet our customers energy needs
Megan Capper, the Energy Resource Manager at EWEB, began her career working in economics at BPA before joining the power planning department EWEB, ensuring we can meet the energy needs of our our customers today, tomorrow and 20 years from now.Find Out More
Substations – The resilient spine of EWEB’s electric system
The substation redundancy ensures reliable power continues to flow to homes and businesses despite unexpected equipment failures and routine maintenance.Find Out More
EWEB charts energy supply choices for next 2-3 years
After 18 months of study to assess Eugene’s future electricity needs, EWEB has identified next steps to pursue in the next two to three years.Find Out More
Wildfire season is here – tips and safety precautions
Temperatures are heating up with weather forecasts anticipating temperatures up to 99 degrees in Eugene and the surrounding areas on the 4th of July.Find Out More
June 2021 Heat Dome broke records for temperature – but not energy use, EWEB analysis finds
The extreme temperatures from two years ago show the need for EWEB to choose energy sources based on best fit.Find Out More
Currin Substation - the origin of the name
Hugh Currin was hired as an engineer at EWEB in 1923. Later, he became the chief engineer for the utility.Find Out More
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EWEB’s heat-driven call to conserve energy yields major savings
August 24, 2023 • Aaron Orlowski, EWEB Communications
By acting collectively and making small adjustments to temporarily reduce energy consumption, EWEB customers played a crucial role in maintaining grid stability during last week’s extreme heat wave.
Electricity was in short supply for several days last week as temperatures crested 100 degrees for four days in a row and several regional electricity generators were shut down due wildfire conditions, including EWEB’s Carmen-Smith hydroelectric project.
In response, EWEB issued its first-ever voluntary call for customers to safely conserve energy on Tuesday, Aug. 15, sending an email to 66,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers, and issuing an alert on social media.
Customers responded in force by raising the temperature settings on their air conditioners, charging electric vehicle overnight rather than in the evening, delaying running large appliances such as dryers or dishwashers until after 9 p.m. and turning off unnecessary lights and electronics.
By comparing customers’ hourly electricity demand on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, EWEB estimated that customers’ actions caused demand to be 10 to 15 megawatts lower than expected, given the temperatures and compounding heat effects. That’s roughly the equivalent of 10,000 to 15,000 window air conditioners getting shut off.
“The whole community came together in this time of duress to do something none of us could do on our own,” said EWEB Chief Energy Resources Officer Brian Booth. “The results show that if everyone makes a small individual effort, then we can have a huge collective impact.”
By paring back consumption, customers both reduced strain on the grid and contributed to keeping EWEB’s electric rates low by helping EWEB avoid paying exorbitant prices for electricity on the wholesale market. Power prices fluctuate by the hour, and customers’ actions allowed EWEB to skip purchasing some energy when prices were at their highest – ultimately saving EWEB customers money on rates in the long run.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, power prices ranged from $70 per megawatt-hour overnight, when demand was lowest, to as high as $1,800 per megawatt-hour from 5 to 8 p.m. when demand was highest. At the peak of the day, when prices were highest, reduced energy usage saved EWEB and customers approximately $10,000 per hour.
“As a publicly owned utility, every dollar we save is a dollar that our customer-owners ultimately don’t have to spend on rates. Instead, we’re able to keep rates low and continue to invest in community assets today that will keep us resilient tomorrow,” Booth said. “At the same time, when customers trim electricity demand when it’s at its highest, they reduce carbon emissions, since peak electricity tends to have higher carbon emissions.”
Call to conserve mirrors future demand response possibilities.
Future customer programs that EWEB will soon start assessing could look like last week’s call to conserve.
Electric utilities across the Northwest and the entire nation have instituted various “demand response” programs that incentivize customers to use less electricity when overall demand is at its highest.
Some programs connect the smart thermostats of customers who enroll to the utility’s systems, which can then cycle them on and off to reduce electricity consumption at peak times. Others similarly use smart electric vehicle chargers that the utility can cycle off during peak demand.
Still others use rates and pricing structures that incentivize customers to reduce their peak consumption on their own. Time-of-use rates, critical peak pricing and similar pricing schemes charge customers different amounts depending on when they use electricity. Others, such as peak-time rebates, compensate customers for scaling back consumption during peak periods.
All these programs largely depend on advanced metering infrastructure, or smart meters. EWEB has been rolling out smart meters to customers free of charge over the last several years, though supply chain disruptions in the last two years have slowed down deployment. So far, EWEB has deployed more than 68,000 electric smart meters, covering about 69% of customers.
Demand response programs also rely on modern back-end computer systems that better integrate information related to metering, energy supply, customer demand and billing. EWEB is currently undergoing a major technology upgrade to do just that.
“Demand response programs are one of the most promising methods we have to dynamically respond to wholesale electricity markets that are becoming more and more extreme and challenging,” Booth said. “As the Northwest adds more and more variable resources such as wind and solar to the grid, we need to better align demand with supply. Customers will play a key role in that.”
EWEB’s 2023 Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process identified demand response programs as a key element of the utility’s future resource mix. The IRP forecasted electricity demand 20 years into the future and used modeling software to analyze dozens of resource options – such as wind, solar and hydropower – to create potential mixes of electricity sources that will reliably meet customers’ needs at the lowest price while being 95% carbon-free.
The analysis yielded valuable insights about the challenges EWEB faces in the future. EWEB doesn’t need to procure any resources in the next few years and will instead spend that time conducting additional analysis and preparing for the 2025 IRP.
One of those studies will look specifically at demand response. The study will seek to determine how much potential exists among EWEB customers for demand response programs, which ones are the best fit, how much they would cost to administer and what benefits would result. EWEB will also conduct a study on the potential to incentivize customers to conserve and consume less energy overall.
With climate change worsening, conditions like EWEB faced last week will only grow more common – and with that the need for flexible energy consumption.
“When evaluating customers’ response to last week’s request to conserve, I get excited about the value for participating customers if we had a formal demand response program,” Booth said. “If we could count on customers to provide that same response in the future when we experience extreme weather events, that same level of response represents many millions of dollars’ worth of battery storage, for example, that we potentially could avoid building.”
EWEB’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) will analyze possible energy resource portfolios with a goal of creating useful insights for long-term (20-year) electricity supply planning decisions.