“Territory transfer on agenda
September 14, 2013
EWEB commissioners will discuss possible McKenzie “territory transfer”
Heading up the agenda will be a report on a possible service territory transfer of EWEB’s McKenzie River Valley territory to the Lane Electric Cooperative. Representatives of the Eugene-based public utilities have held preliminary discussions about the possible transfer for several months. Based on initial evaluations, they say a transfer could make technical, operational and general business sense.
“It’s fairly common for utilities to discuss voluntary changes to service territory that make technical, operational, business and customer sense,” said EWEB General Manager Roger Gray. “If either Lane Electric or EWEB believes such a transaction did not make sense, it would not occur. Part of evaluating what makes sense includes customers’ view on any transfer.”
The affected area includes almost 3,000 customers - stretching from Thurston Road east to Thomson Lane in Vida. Lane Electric’s service territory generally surrounds this area on three sides, and includes the Nimrod, Blue River, Rainbow, and McKenzie Bridge communities.
Officials say no decision has been made, and won’t be made, until Lane Electric and EWEB staffs have a chance to meet with potentially affected customers to hear their thoughts about a transfer.
Tuesday’s meeting will include the presentation on the potential transfer, along with time for customers to ask questions or comment on the proposal. Representatives from Lane Electric will be on hand to answer questions as well.
The utilities have conducted a preliminary evaluation of the possible transfer. It points to several reasons to continue exploring the transaction:
* Lane Electric and EWEB rates are very similar. Although the rate structures have some differences, actual bill impacts depending on consumption levels would be marginal.
* EWEB and Lane Electric both dispatch troubleshooters and repair crews from their respective west Eugene operations facilities, so response times would be similar.
* Lane Electric’s service model is optimized around a rural utility model. More than 95 percent of EWEB’s customers live in the city of Eugene, which makes it primarily an urban service model. Both have excellent service records that stress reliability and that would not change.
* EWEB commissioners are elected based on geo-political boundaries (city of Eugene voting wards), which means EWEB’s upriver customers are not able to vote for their utility representative. If current McKenzie River Valley area EWEB customers become Lane Electric customers, they would participate in Lane Electric elections.
The potential transfer does not include any of EWEB’s McKenzie River generation facilities, which include the Leaburg/Walterville hydro project and the Carmen-Smith hydro project. EWEB would still retain certain transmission lines that deliver power from those generation projects.
Image above: Hydropower generating facilities like the Leaburg Dam, constructed in 1929, would remain in EWEB ownership if Lane Electric opts to buy the utility’s McKenzie River customer accounts.
McKenzie River Reflections