Eugene Water and Electric Board Customers Remain Unaffected by Conservation Funding Cuts
EUGENE, ORE.—The Bonneville Power Administration, EWEB’s long time electricity provider, has announced plans to reduce conservation funding region-wide. These cuts in funding, projected at 20 percent in 2014, 40 percent in 2015, and 55 percent in 2016, will be implemented in an effort to avoid raising utility rates.
Because Eugene voters recently approved a bond measure in September of 2011 that allowed for the sale of $17 million in electric revenue bonds to finance a portion of EWEB’s latest Conservation Project, EWEB customers will not be affected by the BPA conservation funding cuts.
This bond sale is the first of its kind in the country, as a conservation project has never before been funded through tax exempt bonds, with the full cost of retiring the bonds paid by BPA. These bonds are unconditionally guaranteed by BPA and will not affect EWEB electric rates or taxes in the city of Eugene.
As a result of the bond measure’s approval, EWEB’s current conservation project is set to continue. This project consists of a new weatherization program which provides financial assistance to customers with electrically-heated homes to install insulation and other weatherization measures. The bond financing project was undertaken because customers of EWEB had expressed interest in continuing the high-level residential weatherization program, despite a projected 50 percent budget cut in funding by the Bonneville Power Administration.
Due to potential cuts to home weatherization funding to Northwest utilities including EWEB, the Eugene utility provider and the BPA negotiated the sale of electric revenue bonds that would allow EWEB’s Home Weatherization Program to continue at then current levels through a “pilot program”. This program will provide EWEB with conservation funding over a three-year period.