EWEB Board votes against Tin-Hativists, for lower bills

When I moved to Eugene in 1995 I was surprised at the size of my first EWEB bill. Perhaps I was unduly influenced by the songs of Woody Guthrie, but I assumed that with lots of hydro and rain, electricity and water wouldn’t eat into my mortgage payments much.

Woody steered me wrong. EWEB was a classic government protected monopoly gone bad, and the bills were steep. I had an $863 mortgage on an 1100 sq ft house with oil heat, and EWEB was charging another $120 for water and lights. I couldn’t make it work without my parent’s help – and I knew lots of people didn’t have that kind of help.

Things have now changed. A few years ago the EWEB board hired a new manager, who has cut costs and your EWEB bill. Now he wants to increase the use of “smart meters” which use cell-phone technology to record electricity use and calculate bills, freeing up meter readers for more productive work, cutting your bill even more.

And yesterday the EWEB board voted in favor of this, despite the testimony of a small group of tin-hatters who thought the radio waves would harm their already iffy brain functionality. The RG has the story: http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/36419454-75/eweb-decides-customers-must-opt-out-if-they-oppose-smart-meters.html.csp

In celebration, a reader sent me this fabulous video, showing how to put those redundant old electricity meters to a higher valued use. Woody Guthrie would be proud:

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10 Responses to EWEB Board votes against Tin-Hativists, for lower bills

  1. Dog says:

    yes the entire explanation behind UO dysfunction is indeed
    iffy brain function of admins that came to us from places
    that used smart meters …

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  2. Anas clypeata says:

    $120? In 1995? For just water and lights, no heating? I’d like to see a scan of that bill. That, frankly, seems highly unlikely.

    The oldest EWEB bill I can find for my house is for December 1999 (a winter month, so the highest bill of the year). This was for an all-electric house (electric heat, hot water, and cooking), and my total bill was $58.85, including $10.72 in non-EWEB charges for storm water and waste water. That’s $48 in EWEB charges.

    The electric and water portion of my January 2018 EWEB bill was $117, in a bigger house with more people living in it. That’s 5% inflation per year for me, a significant portion of which came as a result of the California “energy crisis” (think Enron) and through cost increases for the power that EWEB buys from other sources.

    Of course, the continued low prices (compare your bill to those of people in other states!) are helped by most of EWEB’s electricity coming from dams that were paid for by (gasp!) the government.

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    • uomatters says:

      Sorry but I burned those bills in the fireplace, trying to keep my fingers warm while I typed out the papers on the Toshiba T1000SE laptop that got me tenure.

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      • anonec says:

        It was probably a good heating source for winters in PLC…

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    • Dog says:

      Individual electricity bills are a strong function of individual household habits. But, it is no longer true that Oregon is the land of cheap electricity (and this hasn’t been true for years). One reason is climate changed induced reduced Columbia River flow.


      Is the most recent map of US residential electricity rates.
      where it is clear that OR doesn’t stand our

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      • Passed Intro Stats says:

        Based on more reliable and up-to-date data at https://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_02_10.html
        it appears Oregon had the 10th cheepest consumer electricity in the US in 2016 at 10.66 ¢/kwh. Washington was third 9.48 ¢/kwh, reflecting the closer proximity the main Columbia generating sites to Washington’s population centers.

        These compare to a national average of 12.55 ¢/kwh and whopping 17.39 ¢/kwh in the state directly south of ours.

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        • Dog says:

          both data sets come from the same place (EIA)
          only the time periods are slightly different

          an average is nothing without a standard deviation

          way back when, oregon was a full 1.5 standard deviations
          below the national average – now it is much closer to the

          I also think, but don;t know, since I failed intro stats, that Portland is much closer to the Columbia river than Seattle …

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          • steve mital says:

            EWEB’s residential rates are about 9 cents per KWH, a little below the state average. Portland is supplied by PGE, an investor-owned utility, which has very little access to federal hydropower. This is part of the reason Portlanders pay more than double per kwh than Eugenians. It also has a significant effect on the Oregon-wide average. Seattle City Light is publicly-owned and hydro dominated.

            As an aside… One of the most significant cost drivers of PNW hydropower is fish mitigation. Currently it accounts for about 25 cents of every dollar BPA collects. That means Eugenians (and Springfielders) are paying for the environmental costs associated with our electricity. Portlanders are not as there is not yet a price on carbon. And still our power is cheaper.

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  3. Dogmatic Ratios says:

    The privacy concerns were skipped over in the article, but are quite real: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/12/121212-smart-meter-privacy/

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  4. Gene O'Grady says:

    Having moved to Eugene from Palo Alto, where they have the only municipal utility west of the Mississippi that provides water, gas, and electricity, and where I worked with utility bills from a condominium association and one of the largest utility customers as well as my own residence, I think the comment about government protected monopoly is way off base. It’s just the lousy way the powers that be in Eugene manage things.

    And I too was shocked by the utility costs when we moved here. Probably not due to the meter readers, however, and I’d be suspicious of the smart meters. Not just nutty to suspect them.

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