Another Run to Stay Warm is in the record books

Many thanks to all the runners and volunteers who participated in Sunday’s event!

More than 1,000 runners and walkers participated in EWEB’s 11th Annual Run to Stay Warm on Sunday, Nov. 19.

It was a beautiful day for the 5K/10K/half marathon. Over the last 10 years, the race has raised more than $200,000 for EWEB’s Customer Care Program.

Run to Stay Warm is made possible through the support of nearly two dozen local businesses and organizations who sponsor the event, as well as many wonderful volunteers.

Thank you to all EWEBers who came out to support this year’s event!

Scott Sinclair (Carmen Smith) and Greg Finn (Meter Reading)

Commissioner Sonya Carlson

Shane Buck (Water)

Zulema Jones (Customer Solutions) and Jared Rubin (Environmental)

It’s not too late to volunteer for Run to Stay Warm

Now in its 11th year, the Run to Stay Warm is EWEB’s premier community event. All proceeds benefit our Customer Care Program to help income-eligible customers who are having difficulty paying their utility bills. Each year the program helps thousands of families stay warm during the winter months. To date, the Run to Stay Warm has raised more than $212,000 for Customer Care!

We’re looking for volunteers to help with day of tasks including handing out medals at the finish, helping the kids during the Kids’ 400m dash, keeping participants hydrated in the water trailer, and more! If you’re interested, click this link to sign up for a shift or contact for more information.

Open House draws in customers with a variety of interests

Around 70 people turned out for EWEB’s second Open House event of 2017.

Customers were able to wander from station to station, learning along the way about energy and water efficiency incentives, power resources and pricing, EWEB’s approach to electric outage restoration, tree trimming practices, and emergency preparedness.

In addition to chatting with utility experts, customers could take specific actions like update their account information for better outage reporting, and sign up for new tech-enabled services EWEB will offer in the future as part of our Modernization Program.

“We updated 48 phone numbers and had 25 accounts opt-in for AMI,” said Customer Service Specialist James Palmer.

The family-friendly event included an electric safety demonstration that captivated several kiddos–not to mention the adults!

Nearly two dozen EWEBers staffed the evening event that took place in the HQ North Building, while Executive Team members and Commissioners circulated the room interacting with customers and answering questions.

Staff and Commissioners fielded a variety of questions, from “What is EWEB doing to prepare for EVs?” to “How can I increase my water pressure.”

Many customers were interested in energy efficient appliances.

One employee described the diversity of people and topics served by the event. “There was a real range. We had a woman who didn’t know what hydro power was, and then we had a man who was tinkering with the concept of putting batteries in his garage to store his solar panel generated energy.”

As usual, employees were up to the challenge of assisting and supporting an array of customer needs.

“I’m always impressed when I see you interacting with customers with such knowledge and pride,” GM Frank Lawson wrote in an email to the Open House staff. “You make me proud to be an EWEBer!”

GM talks utility goals and direction at City Club

In his Oct. 13 presentation to City Club of Eugene, Frank highlighted staff’s hard work and creative thinking as driving EWEB’s success.

This was Frank’s second visit this year to City Club, a civic group that explores local, state and national issues and aims to influence public policy and community decision-making.

The presentation focused on emergency planning and power portfolio decisions—the two “big ones” in EWEB’s strategic plan—as well as the reasons behind the utility’s affordability initiative.

“It isn’t that we want to be cheap or just think short-term,” Frank said. “Cost is a component of customer confidence, and controlling costs creates financial headroom so that we can continue to make investments in areas that are important to the community.”

One of those areas is water reliability. Frank discussed the utility’s move away from a second water filtration plant in the short-term, and our focus on developing multiple water sources that can serve the community in a disaster.

“A Willamette River filtration plant is part of our long-term plan, but we recognize there would still be vulnerabilities even with a second plant,” he said. “When you’re not sure what kind of disaster you’ll face, the best decision is to give yourself several options, which is why we’re focused on diversifying our water sources.”

Frank also touched on EWEB’s power supply portfolio and the need to develop a deeper understanding of customer consumption patterns.

“The energy market is so dynamic that we no longer talk about ‘balancing’ supply and demand, but rather ‘synchronizing’ supply and demand on a seasonal, daily, hourly and even within-the-hour basis,” he said. “We are looking at every resource in our portfolio, investing in new power modeling techniques, and developing programs that can help interested customers shift their consumption patterns, all with the goal of achieving more resilient and flexible delivery.”

Frank credited staff for demonstrating grit and creativity in the face of intense change.

“We’ve thrown a lot at the utility in the last year. I’m very thankful and very proud of the people who work at EWEB. We’re asking them to do a lot of new things. We’ve challenged what we do and how we do it. And employees are responding with innovative ideas, creative thinking, and looking at the challenges of the future with a new set of eyes. We have a great workforce and they know it’s up to them to be stewards for the utility and the community going forward.”

You can listen to a full recording of Frank’s presentation on the KLCC website at

Staff consolidation plan takes a major step forward

EWEB will retain a customer service presence downtown, and other headquarters staff will begin moving to the ROC later this year.

Management and staff have been working for months on a staff consolidation plan by evaluating work needs, customer interests, and space options. A key ingredient to planning the sequence of a move and a new layout at ROC involves how we handle EWEB’s customer service presence. Should we retain a presence downtown? If so, where and how many staff?

Management looked at several options, including:
· A limited customer service center at ROC
· A full-service center at the existing HQ building
· Purchasing or leasing a different building somewhere in Eugene

At the Oct. 3 board meeting, commissioners directed staff to maintain some level of customer service downtown. That could be at the existing headquarters—in either the south or the north building—or in a different space somewhere in the downtown area.

There are advantages to maintaining customer service at the HQ building, mainly around visibility, access, and the availability of public meeting space. But there would be some hurdles to overcome if we were to maintain some or all customer service functions at HQ. For one thing, we don’t need as much physical space as the north and south buildings afford, so configuring our space needs in a way that optimizes the rest of the site for other uses would be a challenge. There are also potential complications around parking if we sell or lease parts of the headquarters site.

One thing was clear from the board—they do not want to operate customer service out of the Roosevelt facility.

“Looking at the social and economic profiles of our customers, it would be a burden for many people to travel out to the Roosevelt location,” said Commissioner Brown.

Other commissioners commented that our customer service center should not only be easy to access, but also present a friendly, inviting feel. The board agreed the ROC is not conducive to a community-oriented customer service center.

GM Frank Lawson indicated that this key piece of direction from the board clears the way to begin moving some staff to ROC as early as November-December, with the majority of moves occurring in early 2018.

“Consolidating the majority of staff at Roosevelt will result in efficiencies and cost-savings that will translate into increased customer trust and confidence,” said Frank. “This has been a long-time in the works, and I think we’re ready to go forward, not just with the physical move, but more importantly, with discovering new and improved ways of working together.”

What customer service functions will remain downtown and where to locate them is the next priority decision. “I’m interested in exploring options around what the HQ facility might look like different circumstances,” said Frank. “Our goal is to meet customer needs while maximize the value economic value to the community.”

A next round of discussions with the board regarding the future of the headquarters building will be scheduled within the next few months.

Commissioners OK draft budget with no price increase

The draft 2018 budget proposes no increase in electric prices and a three percent decrease in water prices. EWEB Commissioners at their Oct. 3 meeting expressed unanimous support for the draft budget.

This spring, we launched the Affordability Initiative to make the prices we charge customers for water and power more affordable, and to create the financial capacity for investments that support our newly-adopted strategic plan.

We are executing this strategic effort to control costs through efficiency improvements, workforce reductions, debt restructuring and program adjustments. The first goal of the initiative is the permanent reduction of $15 million from EWEB’s budget by 2020. We are making significant progress on this important goal.

This initiative, coupled with efforts over the past two years to reduce debt, lower operating costs and defer or delay certain capital projects, is already showing results. Going into 2018, EWEB is in the best fiscal shape we’ve been in over the past decade.

Holding the line on–and reducing–electric and water prices are demonstrable actions that provide tangible results to our customers.

“But our objective is not just cost and workforce reductions,” said GM Frank Lawson. “The much-improved financial position creates the financial headroom for EWEB to make the strategic choices that benefit our customers now and in the decades to come.”

The Board will hold additional discussions and public hearings on the proposed 2018 budget at their November and December meetings, and will approve the final budget at the Dec. 5 meeting.

Customer survey starts this week

EWEB conducts an annual benchmark survey that gauges how important many programs and services are to customers, and also asks customers how satisfied they are with EWEB and specific programs.

As a public utility, EWEB recognizes that the value of services is determined by our customer-owners. We engage the community through surveys and other activities designed to better understand customers’ current perceptions, values and priorities. Past benchmark surveys have consistently shown very high satisfaction with EWEB and support for broad programs and attributes, such as “water quality” or “electric reliability.”

Starting this week, Riley Research Associates of Portland, Oregon, will conduct the 2017 survey by telephone, as they did in 2015; EWEB communications staff is administering the online survey on the Cvent Web Surveys platform. Together, we will gather at least 300 completed telephone interviews and about 1,300 online surveys from EWEB customers, giving us statistically valid results.

Customer Open House planned for Oct. 17

The drop-in style Open House will provide an opportunity for customers to learn about utility infrastructure improvements and get tips for preparing for the winter storm season.

On the evening of Oct. 17, we’re inviting customers to stop by EWEB Headquarters for practical information on winter preparedness, energy and water efficiency incentives. They will be able to hear project updates and provide feedback on electric generation resources, pricing, and more.

The format will be similar to the Open House we hosted in January 2017, following the epic ice storms that affected roughly 24,000 customers.

EWEB managers, subject matter experts, and commissioners will be on-hand to chat with customers and answer questions.

We will also have an interactive electrical safety demonstration for the kids.

Door prizes and light refreshments will be offered.

Please help us spread the word! We would love to have a great turnout for this event.

EWEB Customer Open House
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
5:30-7:30 p.m.
EWEB Headquarters, North Building
500 East 4th Avenue, Eugene
Free parking, near LTD bus stop and bike path

Tips for storing water in your emergency kit

Here in the Pacific Northwest, experts recommend we store 14 gallons of water per person (and pet) in our household. How and where do you store all that water?

Throughout September’s National Preparedness Month, we are sharing emergency preparedness tips and resources through Employee News, social media, our website, and at local events.

This week, our focus is, “Storing Water.”

Whether you buy water from the store, or fill your own containers from the tap, there are some basic rules to follow:

•Make sure your containers are food grade and tightly sealed
•Avoid using glass containers, and don’t use milk or juice containers
•Store your water in a cool, dark place
•Keep unscented chlorine bleach in your emergency kit for disinfecting the water before you drink it

The Regional Water Providers Consortium has lots of tips and videos on water storage on their website. Check it out here:

Got space issues?

If you live in a small house, or you’re just baffled about where to store so much water, EWEB’s video on water storage might be helpful. Check it out here, and find more info on our website

Be prepared. Have a family emergency plan.

With hurricanes battering the south and wildfires here at home, we’re encouraging employees, retirees and customers to take steps now to prepare your family, home and business for all types of emergencies.

Throughout September’s National Preparedness Month, we will be sharing emergency preparedness tips and resources through Employee News, social media, our website, and at local events.

This week, our focus is, “Making a Plan.”

Make a Family Emergency Plan

Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Make a plan for yourself and your family: know how you will contact one another and reconnect if separated, and establish a meeting place that is familiar and easy to find.

By talking with your family and coming up with a plan ahead of time, you can do a lot to help ensure your safety in a worst-case scenario.

Planning ahead helps the community as well. If we’re prepared and able to take care of our own in a disaster, that frees up first responders and makes it more likely that each of us can support restoration efforts following any kind of emergency.

Step 1: Put together a plan by discussing these four questions with your family.

1. How will we receive emergency alerts and warnings?
Many mobile devices will now bring you wireless emergency alerts—real-time information directly from local and federal sources. Check out these alert options:

Lane County ALERT ME! Lane County is able to send you emergency alerts via text message, email, pager, or voice call (in extreme cases), based on your preferences. Sign up today and share the types of alerts and notifications that you would like to receive, as well as your contact information and preferences.

American Red Cross Earthquake Mobile App Receive alerts and notifications when an earthquake occurs, prepare your family and home, find help and let others know you are safe even if the power is out.

FEMA Mobile App Learn what to do before, during, and after emergencies with safety tips, and receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.​

2. What is our shelter plan?
Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the disaster, it may be best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside by “sheltering in place.” Do you have an emergency stock of food, water, medicines, fuel and other supplies?

If you needed to leave home, where would you go? To a family member or friend’s home? A hotel? A shelter? Where is the closest public shelter located? Consider your options and discuss with your loved ones in advance.

3. What is our evacuation route?
In a natural disaster, some roads and bridges may be unpassable. It’s smart to plan ahead for a few different route options to your shelter location. Keep a map in your car in case your mobile navigation is unavailable.

4. What is our family communication plan?
In an emergency, many people trying to use their mobile phones and land lines at the same time may create network congestion. Have a conversation with your family and agree on a plan for how you will communicate and reconnect. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Try text messaging. In many cases text messages will go through when your call may not.
  • Designate someone out of the area as a central contact, and make certain all family members know who to contact if they become separated.
  • Agree on a meeting place in case you are unable to connect via phone, text or email.
  • Keep portable cell phone power banks in your car, backpacks, etc.
  • Make sure each family member has a printed list of phone numbers in case your cell phones aren’t working.

Step 2: Document your emergency plan.
Here are some templates to use as a guide:

Step 3: Practice your plan
Review and practice your plan a couple times a year so that everyone will remember what to do when in an emergency.