I’ve heard SUB has sued EPUD. Is this true?
SUB has independently asked the Lane County Circuit Court for an opinion on whether the legal avenue it is considering is viable. The mechanism for this is called a validation action. EPUD was notified in the process and elected to participate in the proceeding.
EPUD says “General Manager Kyle Roadman provided background on Springfield Utility Board’s attempt to illegally take over a portion of EPUD’s service territory”.
SUB filing the validation action was entirely legal. It was not illegal.
EPUD states “Help us stop this frivolous lawsuit from continuing” and calls SUB’s actions “illegal and wrong.”
SUB pursued a validation action. SUB disagrees that actions taken for the betterment of Springfield – including reliability and emergency response – are frivolous. SUB’s position is that advocating for Springfield’s utility interests – and the interests of all our customers – is the right thing to do.
EPUD states “The current area in question is in and around East Springfield, but SUB has made it clear they want to take as much of EPUD’s territory as they can over time.”
SUB has expressed interest in the area within the Springfield UGB determined by the City Council. That area is approximately 1.03 square miles. Due to topography and technical considerations, SUB did offer to acquire approximately 1.06 square miles.
EPUD has expressed support on comments stating that SUB should consider another path forward.
SUB is encouraged that EPUD appears to be open to joining SUB at the negotiating table. Our intended outcome is to ensure all Springfield residents, including those annexed into the City, are in the best position to benefit from the municipal water and power services SUB provides. We seek a mutual, amicable understanding that meets the needs of both parties, and SUB remains open to communication and collaboration on this issue.
Why is it important for SUB to provide services to all of the City of Springfield?
SUB was created in 1950 by Springfield voters and authorized to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective utility services to residents and businesses in Springfield. Today, SUB provides Springfield with three vital services: drinking water, electricity and fiber. SUB primarily uses its fiber system for monitoring and responding to events at critical facilities. SUB exists to serve Springfield and is hyper-focused on that task. That means if there is a life threatening event in Springfield, SUB is better positioned to respond compared to a utility that is responding to events in Alvadore, Cheshire, Dexter, Elmira, Fall Creek, Goshen, Jasper, Lorane, Marcola, Pleasant Hill, Saginaw, Veneta and also serves parts of Coburg, Cottage Grove, Creswell, Eugene, Halsey, and Junction City (and surrounding areas).
What options is SUB exploring?
SUB reached out to EPUD in 2021 and in 2022 with a good-faith offer to acquire EPUD’s facilities in the Springfield UGB. EPUD did not wish to pursue a sale. SUB’s Board of Directors began gathering information on other options. As part of this process, SUB asked the Lane County Circuit Court to rule on the legality of another approach that would allow SUB to serve an area in the southeast portion of the Springfield UGB currently served by EPUD. The area has approximately 200 customers and was previously annexed by the City. This area is approximately 0.18 square miles.
Is SUB’s approach to serving annexed areas unusual? No. Over the years, as Springfield has grown and areas are annexed into the city, we have worked with several local public utilities on the orderly transfer of their electric and water customers to SUB. For example, we have successfully negotiated agreements with EWEB, Rainbow Water District and Glenwood Water District to ensure that new city residents and businesses can take advantage of the municipal services SUB offers.
Is pursuing this a good use of ratepayer money?
SUB invests money in infrastructure to meet the broader vision established by decisions of the City Council (past, present, and future). Maximizing the value of that infrastructure is part of SUB’s fiscal duty toward its customer-owners. Clarifying issues when they arise helps everyone and ensures we can move forward confidently with our future planning.
What is the guiding service philosophy?
City services should flow with city boundaries. The City does not have a provision that allows residents and businesses to pay only for those city services they desire: there is no cafeteria plan allowing people to choose how much they individually want to pay for fire, police, public works, library, or other city government services. Instead, the City recovers large capital and operating costs for essential services from all citizens and uses that to serve everyone in the City. Utility services are essential, too.
What is the difference between SUB and EPUD?
One difference is size. SUB serves an approximately 25 square mile area. EPUD serves an approximately 572-square-mile area. The local area within the UGB in question is a relatively small part of EPUD’s system (approximately 1.06 square miles).
Are SUB’s and EPUD’s missions different?
Yes. The mission of the Springfield Utility Board is to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective utility-related services to the residents and businesses of the Springfield community. EPUD’s stated mission is to provide safe, reliable, low-cost power in an environmentally responsible manner. Their mission, unlike ours, is not specific to Springfield.
Is there a rate impact to customers if SUB serves the area?
Current customers in the area served by EPUD would likely see lower bills if served by SUB. Below is a graph showing residential electric rate comparisons, as provided by the Public Utility Commission, an independent source that gathers information from public and private utilities. If EPUD were to invest in electric substations and transmission to the same standards that SUB has done to serve Springfield, those costs would put upward pressure on EPUD rates. SUB has different but equally substantial challenges in providing water service to customers, something EPUD, which only supplies electric service, does not have to negotiate.