Customer partners – 2010
Related GRI Indicators

Click on the indicator numbers below to read more about our performance related to this topic.

EU 7: Energy Efficiency and Conservation
EU 19: Stakeholder Participation in Utility Planning and Infrastructure Development

Adams Elementary School received an EWEB Greenpower Grant

As a customer-owned municipal utility, EWEB sees our role in the community as more than just a provider of water and electricity – we are an active and contributing community member dedicated to serving the interests of the citizens of Eugene. Moreover, we recognize that improving our social and environmental performance requires deeper engagement with our customers and the community.

EWEB enjoys much more community engagement with utility decision – making than most of our peer publicly owned utilities. This is reflected in our legacy of investing in water and energy conservation and efficiency as well as clean, renewable energy sources – decisions driven by the desires and values of our customers.

In the future, it is anticipated that our customers will have an even more active relationship with EWEB. Rapidly developing smart meter and grid technologies hold the promise to transform the way electricity is delivered to our customers and how our customers interact with us. It is also likely that in the future, some of our customers will increasingly be generating their own power, by installing solar photovoltaics on their rooftops or investing in community owned renewable energy projects.

Current Strategies and Performance Highlights

Energy efficiency and conservation

Since 1982, EWEB and our customers have undertaken energy efficiency and conservation measures roughly equivalent to the firm annual energy output of EWEB's two McKenzie River hydroelectric projects, EWEB's share of the International Paper cogeneration project, and EWEB's share of the Foote Creek Wind and Harvest Wind projects combined.

In 2010 alone, EWEB acquired 25,566 megawatt-hours of electricity savings, an amount equivalent to the average annual electricity consumption of more than 2,000 homes, by investing $6.8 million in programs targeting residential, commercial and industrial customers – exceeding our efficiency and conservation target of 2.38 average megawatts by 23%. These co-investments in weatherization and high efficiency appliances and lighting help lower customers monthly bills and reduce the region's dependence on fossil fuel-fired power resources.

Since 1990, these co-investments have resulted in more than 50 average megawatts in energy savings, roughly equivalent to one and a half times the firm annual energy output of EWEB's two McKenzie River Hydroelectric projects. That translates approximately to a 15% reduction in our community's electricity use, beyond what would have been expected, over the last 20 years.

EWEB annual retail load before and after energy efficiency conservation measures

Advanced metering and smart grid technologies

EWEB is actively exploring the possible deployment of "smart grid" technologies, such as advanced metering infrastructure, which allow for two-way communication between a utility and a customer. These technologies will improve the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid, allow for better integration of renewable resources and give customers greater control over how much electricity they use and when they use it. In 2010, EWEB's staff began investigating technology options and associated costs and planning for community outreach and a "smart meter" pilot, anticipated in 2011.

Opportunities and Challenges

EWEB's current surplus power position, access to very low cost power from the Bonneville Power Administration and uncertainty about the future of wholesale power prices together limits EWEB's ability to aggressively invest in all cost-effective energy efficiency and conservation without significant near-term increases to retail rates. As EWEB considers the future of its energy efficiency and conservation programs, we will examine the trade-offs in acquiring different levels of energy savings and the impacts near-term higher rates would have on the broader community.

The anticipated deployment of smart meter and new metering technologies could help Eugene become a city where the sourcing and use of power react nimbly to market conditions of supply and demand, are efficient and cost-effective, and further the community's environmental and social values. However, new technologies and a new relationship to the use of energy in homes and businesses will require change, making it even more important to enhance our relationship with customers so that desired outcomes can be built in partnership.

EWEB has the opportunity to generate a comprehensive plan of action and educate customers and the community on the costs and benefits of a new way of utilizing energy. A carefully planned and open approach will reap both goodwill and a future worth aspiring to.

As part of our commitment to collaborate with our customers in shaping this energy future, EWEB began work on the latest version of its Integrated Electric Resource Plan in 2011. The plan development is to be informed by a 13-member community advisory panel that will share their perspectives on important future trends and community values that relate to resource-planning decisions.