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March 7 Board Meeting report

March 17, 2023 Rachael McDonald, EWEB Communications

PUBLIC INPUT:

Vida resident Will Rutherford praised EWEB’s Karl Morgenstern for his work to protect the McKenzie Watershed. Morgenstern retired at the end of February.  Rutherford said he wanted to acknowledge Morgenstern’s work on source protection. He added, “Standing behind him and beside him are a whole lot of people doing excellent work supporting the efforts that are going on in our watershed.”

Jim Neu with 350 Eugene also thanked staff and General Manager Frank Lawson for the recent public meetings on the Integrated Resource Planning and thanked EWEB Climate Policy Analyst Kelly Hoell for reaching out to his group for input on the EWEB Climate Guidebook.  

 

TOPICS & DECISIONS:

  • The Board of Commissioners approved contracts for EWEB Enterprise Solutions (EES) Implementation, a new technology system to make EWEB more efficient and allow us to better serve customers. The vote was unanimous.
  • EWEB Chief Financial Officer Deborah Hart informed the board that EWEB is seeking 2023 bonds for the water utility. U.S. Treasury rates are low so it’s a good time to seek bond funding. That request will go to the Eugene City Council for authorization next month.
  • In his State of the Utility address, General Manager Frank Lawson highlighted the work EWEB has done to meet its challenges and opportunities. He said EWEB is a strong organization and has had one of its safest years in the past two decades.
  • EWEB Climate Policy Analyst Kelly Hoell updated the board on the Climate Guidebook, which is rolling out over the next couple of months. It’s an encyclopedic reference document for EWEB leaders, staff, and the community. The first iteration of the guidebook includes information on climate policy with principles to guide EWEB investments. It also looks at the forecast for power in the future and how EWEB’s Integrated Resource Planning is involving the public and interest groups to plan ahead. The guidebook’s section on customer decarbonization is an area that will have the most growth over the next year with information on how to partner with other community organizations to support decarbonization.
  • Integrated Resource Planning: the IRP team delivered new analytical results and will have an updated draft in June. EWEB has been involving the public in the planning process in a number of ways, including holding a town hall in February with Q&A and a presentation from Frank Lawson. Lawson also spoke at the City Club of Eugene and EWEB staff have presented at neighborhood association meetings in Eugene. OPB also featured the IRP in a recent Think Out Loud segment, which was heard statewide.

 

NOTABLE QUOTES:

During the discussion of contracts for EWEB Enterprise Solutions (EES), Commissioner Matt McRae acknowledged that the more efficient technology system for customer service is a huge investment. “The need is clear to me. The benefits are obvious,” McRae said. “It seems to me this is the right direction to go. I appreciate the long-term commitment of this team.” The contracts are for $5 million over 5 years for Program Director Services from Avant Consulting and $16 million over 2 years with implementation partner Deloitte.  

After hearing Frank Lawson’s State of the Utility address, Commissioner Mindy Schlossberg said she’s “Proud to be part of this organization.  In the 4 to 5 years I’ve been on this board, things keep getting better.” She also complimented EWEB’s communications team for its work on the Leaburg Project Strategic Evaluation, East 40th Water Storage Project, and Integrated Resource Planning.

General Manager Lawson agreed. He said, “There’s a lot of work ahead of us. It’s very valuable to have a board that’s so productive and a community that cares about it. We have a great group of people.” He also mentioned newly retired Karl Morgenstern’s work in source protection. “Success breeds success. He started something. Others will continue to build on that.”

Commissioner John Barofsky said there’s a lot of polarization in the community. He said, “I feel comfortable that we are here to help mend polarization around things like climate. We are a large partner in this conversation in this community. We did make a lot of decisions this year. But now we need to implement them.” He pointed to the recent decision to decommission Leaburg Dam. “Yes, we have a lot of hard work to do. I have faith that we’ll be able to go out and do it.”

Commissioner McRae added, “It’s a huge honor to work with a team of wildly smart individuals that are steering this ship.”

Next Board Meeting is April 4

EWEB Board of Commissioner meetings are on the first Tuesday of each month. The public is invited to attend in person or online. You can sign up for public comment or email your commissioner anytime. Commissioners are volunteer, elected officials who represent EWEB customers.