3rd Annual Golf Scramble is coming Friday, May 18

The fundraiser Golf Scramble will be held again at River Ridge Golf Course and is open to retirees plus one guest.

The cost for this afternoon of 9 holes of golf AND fun will be $35 per person (this includes a cart). This event is a fundraiser for EWEB’s own Customer Care program and ALL levels of play are welcome.

There will be prizes, best Poker hand, pizza, and hopefully no rain for the third year in a row! Don’t miss out on this fun afternoon of comradery, golf, and lots of laughs!

You may sign up as an individual, with a guest, or as a team of four.

Contact Misty at Misty.Merriam@eweb.org to sign up. Event costs are not due until the day of the event.

Friday, May 18 at 1 p.m.

Community Connections

Community Connections is where we feature opportunities for employees to get involved in volunteer projects, fundraisers, gatherings, and good-cause projects happening around the community.

Volunteer opportunity: EWEB Night at Food for Lane County, March 28

Join us for fun, friendship, family and fighting hunger in our community, Wednesday, March 28 from 6-9 p.m. Contact Amanda Lane, Customer Service, to sign-up.

Prepare for heightened phishing risk this tax season

Throughout the year, scam artists pose as legitimate entities—such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), other government agencies, and financial institutions—in an attempt to defraud taxpayers. They employ sophisticated phishing campaigns to lure users to malicious sites or entice them to activate malware in infected email attachments. To protect sensitive data, credentials, and payment information, prepare for heightened risk this tax season and remain vigilant year round.

Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites to solicit personal information by posing as a trustworthy organization. In many successful incidents, recipients are fooled into believing the phishing communication is from someone they trust. An actor may take advantage of knowledge gained from research and earlier attempts to masquerade as a legitimate source, including the look and feel of authentic communications. These targeted messages can trick any user into taking action that may compromise enterprise security.

Understand how the IRS communicates electronically with taxpayers
•The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
•This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.
•The official website of the IRS is www.irs.gov.

Take action to avoid becoming a victim
•If you believe you might have revealed sensitive information about your organization or access credentials, report it to the appropriate contacts within the organization, including network administrators. They can be alert for any suspicious or unusual activity.
•Watch for any unexplainable charges to your financial accounts. If you believe your accounts may be compromised, contact your financial institution immediately and close those accounts.
•If you believe you might have revealed sensitive account information, immediately change the passwords you might have revealed. If you used the same password for multiple accounts, make sure to change the password for each account and do not use that password in the future.

Report suspicious phishing communications
•Email: If you read an email claiming to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on attachments and/or links. Forward the email as-­is to phishing@irs.gov, then delete the original email.
•Website: If you find a website that claims to be the IRS and suspect it is fraudulent, send the URL of the suspicious site to phishing@irs.gov with subject line, “Suspicious website.”
•Text Message: If you receive a suspicious text message, do not reply or click on attachments and/or links. Forward the text as-­is to 202­552­1226 (standard text rates apply), and then delete the original message (if you clicked on links in SMS and entered confidential information, visit the IRS’ identity protection page).

Watch this IRS video to find out how to handle suspicious emails.

Being part of the community to raise a village

In late 2017, EWEB had the opportunity to work with SquareOne Villages on cost-saving measures for their tiny homes project.

Emerald Village Eugene is a new, innovative housing project of 22 affordable tiny homes. Each of the tiny homes is designed to meet code requirements for a “permanent dwelling” — sleeping and living areas, a kitchenette and bathroom — and will provide secure, permanent housing to community members with very low incomes.

Supporting vulnerable members of our community is a priority for EWEB. We offer weatherization programs to help income-eligible customers reduce energy use and lower their utility bills, as well as bill assistance programs. The tiny home village provided an opportunity to assist with a unique safety net project that will help very low income residents regain stability, benefiting the entire community.

To keep residents’ monthly costs between $250 – $350, SquareOne Villages looked to the community—including EWEB— for support. With the need for utility service at each of the homes, we were pleased to offer solutions for both water and electricity to help keep the monthly costs low.

“We were able to work out a means with EWEB to put the entire project on a single meter for the electricity. This represents a significant savings for which we are very grateful,” says Dan Bryant, Executive Director of SquareOne Villages.

EWEB was also able to offer water conservation measures to the homes as another way to keep monthly utility costs down.

“We regularly offer solutions to customers designed to help them manage their water and electricity consumption, and keep their bills down,” said Customer Solutions Specialist Jeff Petersen. “When I learned about Emerald Village, I reached out to the project manager to see how EWEB could help.”

Installing water efficient toilets was a tangible method for achieving this goal. Working through EWEB, Emerald Village secured a donation from Niagara Conservation of 23 ultra high efficiency toilets, shower heads and aerators to be installed in each of the tiny homes. “We are thankful to EWEB for initiating this partnership, and to Niagara Conservation for helping improve the quality of our housing for low-income community members here in Eugene,” says Emerald Village Project Manager Andrew Heben.

The tagline of the project is, “It takes a community to raise a village.” Looking at the long list of contributors to the project, it appears as though that motto is being realized and we are pleased to have played a small part.

New in the EWEB Newsroom: Board meeting highlights

Customers and retirees can now get a recap of monthly board meetings on eweb.org.

Enhancing customer trust and confidence is a cornerstone of EWEB’s Strategic Plan. Our future ability to create a more resilient electric grid and water network requires a partnership with customers that is built on the trust and confidence we foster today.

Across the utility, we’re working hard to cultivate that confidence through delivering safe, reliable power and water, making it easier for customers to do business with us, and improving affordability.

We’re also stepping up our commitment to transparency, outreach and communication with customers. The recent Customer Open House and Carbon Policy Forum are two examples of that effort.

To further support EWEB’s strategic goals, the Communications & Marketing Team is launching a new monthly feature on eweb.org that recaps the highlights from Board of Commissioner meetings.

Other local public entities publish similar reports, including city of Springfield and city of Eugene.

The newsroom feature may also be of interest to retirees who would like to stay informed about board decisions and direction.

The monthly news article will include brief highlights of the key topics. For more detailed information, retirees and customers are always invited to read the full board agendas and meeting minutes, which are also published on eweb.org.

Check out the first edition covering the March 6 meeting.

EWEB partners with City, UO to make rentals more energy efficient

Did you know that rental units comprise half of the available housing in Eugene? A 2017 study by the University of Oregon Business Consulting Group identified that more than 6,000 of those rentals are in need of energy-saving upgrades.

Supporting vulnerable members of our community with conservation and efficiency programs is priority for EWEB, which is why the Customer Solutions team is once again helping tenants and rental owners lower monthly utility bills through the Home Energy Score program.

“We care about energy efficiency because it plays such an important role in a customer’s total electric bill,” says Matt Lutter, a customer solutions specialist. “The program focuses on rental housing because many rentals are inefficient and costly to heat, and there are often significant barriers to making efficiency improvements in these homes.”

One barrier is what is known as “split incentives.” Property owners don’t make efficiency investments because the renters pay the energy bills, and renters don’t make investments in property they don’t own.

A Home Energy Score is similar to a vehicle’s miles-per-gallon rating. The score allows customers to compare the energy performance of their rental home to other homes nationwide.

EWEB has offered on-site energy audits for homes (both owner-occupied and rentals) and businesses for a number of years, but the HES program is focused exclusively on rental housing.

“When rental owners see the Home Energy Score report, we hope they will be more likely to invest in the efficiency upgrades that will make their rentals more comfortable and affordable, even if they are not paying the utility bills,” says Matt.

The process starts with a Qualified Assessor collecting energy and water information during a brief walk-through of the home. In addition to scoring the home, EWEB will provide the tenant and landlord with the average monthly energy costs, a list of recommended improvements and the estimated cost savings.

To get the program off the ground, EWEB partnered with the University of Oregon’s Department of Sustainability and the city of Eugene. EWEB trained nine interns from UO to become state-approved Home Energy Assessors. The city pays the interns’ wages, making this a cost-effective effort for EWEB.

This is the Home Energy Score program’s second year. In 2017, EWEB scored 248 rental properties, and landlords invested over $100,000 in energy efficiency improvements with the help of EWEB’s rebates and 0% interest loans.

The 2018 HES program has been expanded to include water efficiency and leak detection.

Emergency water container sale

EWEB customers can purchase three-gallon, BPA-free water containers for $5 each, while supplies last, in the customer service lobby.

Purchase your water containers between 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. in the atrium. The account-holder must be present, and the charge will be added to your EWEB bill. Limit four per customer.

Commissioners approve 2018 budget with no price increase

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. 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.

Launched last spring, our Affordability Initiative seeks to deliver value to customers and to better align spending levels to what our customers-owners expect.

The initiative builds on a multi-year program to improve the financial strength of EWEB by reducing operating costs, paying off or restructuring debt, delaying or reducing certain capital projects, and eliminating some programs that don’t directly impact safety or reliability.

In 2017, financial savings initiatives included:
•$1.9 million of O&M savings
•Staff reductions that will reduce net labor costs by $3.8 million in 2018
•Electric utility defeased $35 million in debt, saving $3.2 million in debt service for 2018
•Water utility paid $11 million to the Electric utility for reducing intercompany debt for an overall $600,000 savings in debt service

This work directly supports Phase I of the Strategic Plan to enhance customer confidence.

The tangible results of these efforts include an overall water price decrease of about 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.

Some of the key 2018 budget assumptions include:
•0 percent health insurance premium increase
•3.5 percent wage escalation
•Retail electric load approximately the same as 2017
•Slight increase in water consumption

The decrease in water prices is largely achieved by removing a 3 percent price increase was implemented in 2014 for development of a Willamette River water filtration plant. Our emergency water supply program is now focused on developing our capabilities to deliver water at a number of distribution sites throughout the community. The 2018 budget includes $1.3 million for alternative water supply projects and programs.

While reducing costs, we have been able to retain programs that are important to the community and our customer-owners. 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 Customer Care Program that provides bill payment assistance for limited income customers of approximately $1.5 million.

“The 2108 budget positions both the electric and water utilities to continue financial resiliency enhancements and to rise to the challenge of enhancing customer confidence,” said GM Frank Lawson in a memo to the Board of Commissioners. “I’m proud of how EWEB has rallied around this new focus, and I want to thank staff, management and commissioners for their assistance in helping achieve our mission ‘to enhance our community’s vitality by delivering drinking water and electric services consistent with the values of our customer-owners’.”

Midgley Fitness Center Decommissioning Update

We applaud our retirees who make a commitment to exercise and use the Midgley Fitness Center. We recognize this has been a fantastic benefit that has been available to retirees and eligible family members. Unfortunately, come December 31, 2017 the Midgley Fitness Center will no longer be accessible for employees, retirees or family members.

In its place we are excited to share a partnership with International Fitness has been extended to the EWEB family. Beginning January 1, 2018 employees, families and retirees will receive no enrollment fees and a reduced rate of $9.95 per month per person or $159 per year, per person – removing the one time annual club enhancement fee of $39. International Fitness offers over 100 classes per week between their various locations, including top of the line resistance training equipment, free weights, and cardio machines. Additional amenities vary per location but include swimming and water activities, steam room, saunas, indoor basketball courts and an indoor soccer field.

More information will be available in the coming weeks on this new resource to help you achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles. If you have questions you may contact HR at 541-685-7552.