EWEB 2012 budget reductions
Large transmission tower

In a continuing effort to reduce costs to lessen the impact of future rate increases, EWEB in mid-2012 reduced the size of its workforce and scaled back on some programs and services.

In all, EWEB has reduced its 2012 budget by about $2 million

Why necessary

As EWEB looked at the most recent financial forecasts, it became evident that the utility was facing cost increases that, without budget reductions, would result in a 2013 electric rate increase of more than 20 percent, as well as a significant water rate increase. Immediate action was needed to stabilize costs and lessen the impact of future rate increases.

The primary drivers for cost increases are:

  • Bonneville Power Administration's expected 2013 wholesale electric rate increase for EWEB and other Northwest public utilities that rely on the federal power system (estimated to be in the range of 15 percent to 18 percent, BPA supplies about 60 percent of EWEB power)
  • Costs associated with relicensing EWEB's largest hydroelectric power facility, Carmen-Smith
  • Reduced reimbursement funds from BPA for EWEB conservation activities
  • Rising costs associated with acquiring renewable energy
  • Lower revenues generated from the sale of surplus power

In response, EWEB is making difficult choices to focus resources on essential services that provide the highest value to customers. The spending reductions will help to mitigate the impact of BPA and other cost increases expected in 2013 and beyond, without reducing the reliable delivery of electricity and water.

Power costs are the utility's largest expense, making up more than half of its annual budget. Labor costs make up just over 20 percent of the total annual budget. However, part of the June 2012 budget reductions included reducing a total of 53 positions, or approximately 9 percent of EWEB's workforce. About a third of those jobs were vacant, but most were in the form of layoffs and early retirements.

Customer spending priorities surveys

As part of the 2013 budgeting process, EWEB conducted two customer surveys in June 2012 to better understand how customers value the utility's services. The phone and web survey were designed help EWEB and its elected Board of Commissioners prioritize services to mitigate expected rate impacts in 2013 and beyond.

See summary results:

Our commitment

EWEB remains absolutely committed to providing value and high quality services to the community, while preparing the utility to meet the challenges and opportunities in the future.