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
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
EWEB’s water infrastructure projects designed for reliability during major disasters
As communities nationwide Imagine a Day Without Water, EWEB strives to ensure such a day never happens.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
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
EWEB Prepares for the Annual Observance of "Imagine a Day Without Water"
Water infrastructure is essential, invaluable, and in need of continuous investment. Read how EWEB's Staff and Board of Commissioners are working to safeguard Eugene's water future.Find Out More
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Your EWEB Rates at Work: Investing Today for a Resilient Tomorrow
November 03, 2023 • Jen Connors, EWEB Communications
Can you crack this riddle?
I am all around you, but you seldom notice me. You rely on me nearly every moment of every day. In fact, without me, businesses would fold, schools would close, and people would get sick. And yet, you rarely even need to give me a thought. What am I?
The solution: Utility infrastructure.
From power plants to distribution and transmission lines, substations and transformers, pipes, reservoirs, and pump stations — utility infrastructure is critical to quality of life, public safety, economic vitality, and so much more.
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 — approximately 8.5 billion gallons of drinking water and 2.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year.
But the electric grid and drinking water systems we all rely on are threatened by age, natural disasters, and climate change.
Recurrent heat waves and prolonged droughts are creating conditions for more frequent wildfires and impact our rivers that provide drinking water and power generation. Extreme weather events can lead to higher demand for electricity, stressing our energy systems, as demonstrated by the February 2021 ice storm in Texas and September 2022 heat wave in California that nearly caused rolling blackouts. Closer to home, electricity was in short supply for several days in August 2023, 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 the past few years, neighboring communities like Junction City, Mapleton, and Salem have experienced water infrastructure crises leading to shortages and Boil Water Advisories.
At the same time, other risks loom.
In the last decade, new science on the Cascadia Subduction Zone has emerged indicating that a magnitude 9 earthquake could strike the Pacific Northwest at any time, disrupting electricity, water, and other public services for weeks or even months. The Oregon Resilience Plan, a report issued in 2013 by the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, paints a chilling picture of what Oregon might look like after such an earthquake, describing Cascadia as “Oregon’s Greatest Natural Threat.”
Much of the infrastructure our community relies on for vital services was built before the earthquake threat was fully understood and in an era when our community’s needs and the technologies to meet them were very different from today. As an example, Eugene’s base level water tanks, which store 55 million gallons of drinking water, were constructed before modern seismic standards were created.
Much of EWEB’s water and electric infrastructure is also approaching the end of its useful life at the same time. Most of the pipes, poles, substations, power plants, and other facilities that serve all Eugene homes and businesses were built in the 1960s and 70s during a time of rapid population growth for Eugene. As a result, EWEB is dealing with a bubble of aging infrastructure that requires massive investment.
A new era of responsible infrastructure investment
EWEB is already taking steps to mitigate these risks and ensure our customers have clean, safe, reliable water and power, even as critical infrastructure ages and new challenges arise.
Thanks to a robust capital budget, funded by customer rates, we are in a new era of responsible infrastructure investment — rebuilding and modernizing the equipment and facilities that deliver your power and water.
Here are a few of the major projects planned or underway:
- Rebuilding substations to increase capacity and improve reliability, starting with the Currin Substation near Garden Way and I-105.
- Upgrading water storage tanks, including building new earthquake-proof tanks near E. 40th Ave, and soon replacing College Hill Reservoir with modern, seismically resilient storage.
- Building a water treatment plant on the Willamette River to diversify and improve the resiliency of our water supply.
- Upgrading the Carmen-Smith Hydroelectric Project to continue generating low-cost, clean, local power.
- Decommissioning the Leaburg Hydroelectric Project to mitigate future risks and provide fiscally responsible clean energy options.
Investing today for a resilient tomorrow
How we plan, design, and execute these infrastructure projects today will shape Eugene’s future. EWEB is prioritizing resiliency by using modern strategies to protect systems from extreme weather events and earthquakes. We are designing and building systems so they adapt under uncertain future conditions.
1. The capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
2. The stable trajectory of healthy functioning after a highly adverse event; flexibility.
Earlier this year, EWEB’s elected Board of Commissioners adopted a resiliency policy to formalize a utility-wide commitment to embed resiliency in operations, processes, and decision making.
An example of resilient infrastructure planning is EWEB’s approach to building new water storage. Over the next decade, we are replacing Eugene’s three massive tanks that were built between the 1930s and 1960s with six smaller tanks. This distributed approach makes it easier for us to take one tank offline for repairs, providing operational flexibility while making our system more resilient to disruption.
These water storage tanks, substations and other critical power and water facilities are being constructed to modern seismic standards, to withstand a Cascadia earthquake.
No infrastructure is entirely protected from disasters, but by prioritizing resiliency we can reduce the likelihood, magnitude, and duration of disruptive events. The new Willamette River water treatment plant, for example, will be designed to come back online within 24 hours of an earthquake.
These investments are vital to meet the growing demands of our community and to fortify our electric grid and drinking water systems against the challenges posed by climate change and other risks.
Your rates keep the lights on and the water flowing
As Eugene’s publicly owned utility for 112 years, EWEB has a long history of investing in our community. Everyone in the community is a co-owner of $1.3 billion of assets that deliver clean, safe, and reliable power and drinking water.
As an EWEB customer, you own and help fund that infrastructure. When you pay your EWEB bill, you’re not just paying for the electricity and water you used, you are investing in the health, safety, livability, and economic future of your community.