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|Articles - December 2010|
|Wednesday, November 17, 2010|
Spiking water rates in Portland over the past three years have caused increasing concern among the many water-intensive businesses in the city. Rates have increased 43.4% in the past three years and will more than double in the next five. For instance, Portland’s top 2009 commercial water user, silicon-wafer maker Siltronic, could see fees increase by roughly $2 million in the next five years.
The Portland Water Bureau (PWB) started initial stages of construction of covered reservoirs at Kelly Butte and Powell Butte in the fall of 2009 and is shuttering others to meet EPA regulations banning open-water reservoirs. The five-year project will cost the city around $400 million, and PWB customers — 10% to 15% of whom are businesses — will bear much of that cost. Water rates, which are the same for consumers and businesses, will increase on average by 12% next June and by roughly 13% each subsequent fiscal year until 2015. In contrast, water rates increased by 12.4% between 1994 and 1999.
“We know its money out of their pockets; we have to be mindful of that when maintaining [an old] system and complying with EPA regulations,” says PWB spokesman Jimmy Brown.
There is some controversy around the fact that the Portland City Council has on many occasions appropriated PWB revenue for non-water unrelated projects. For example, over the past decade more than $15 million of PWB’s revenue was spent on MAX and streetcar projects.
“We don’t mind paying for the [water] service, but when it gets diverted to other systems … it’s no good,” says Alan Sprott, a vice president at marine ship services company Vigor Industrial in Portland. Last March, the Portland Utility Review Board unanimously voted for more checks and balances on the council’s ability to reallocate PWB money. The review board also plans to reduce PWB’s controllable costs by 15% over the next five years.
Some large water-using businesses are being proactive about the cost of water. Oregon Health & Science University was the fourth-largest consumer of water in the city in 2009 and has created conservation programs to reduce consumption. “We’ve seen a 30% decrease of water use in the past 20 years,” says Roger Cole, OHSU’s manager of sustainable operations. In 2006, OHSU constructed two buildings that met LEED standards in sustainability. “It’s a win-win, economically and environmentally,” Cole says.
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT | OB CONTRIBUTOR
"Shipping containers to Portland is like waiting for a bus that travels once a day."
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
The 2014 Bend Venture Conference set a record for the most cash, investments and prizes awarded at an angel conference in the Pacific Northwest. Investments in the six winning companies exceeded $1 million. The 11th annual conference was hosted by Economic Development of Central Oregon.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY JASON NORRIS, CFA | OB GUEST BLOGGER
Pets.com, GeoCities, eToys, and WorldCom … blasts-from-the-past that all signify the late 1990s Internet bubble. Yet we believe the dynamics of the market, specifically in technology stocks, are much different today than it was during the late 1990s.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Yeah, we know: Oregonians are way too cool for umbrellas. But today’s stylish, high-tech models will soften the resistance of the most rain hardened.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Portland's cab companies urged city hall for consideration as officials weigh new rules for Uber and other ridesharing companies.
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Don’t just sit there. For a healthy workplace, move up and down — and all around.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
BY TAMSEN LEACHMAN | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
It is important to understand the EEOC’s priorities, and ensure that your leadership understands the shifting expectations of regulators and the heightened standards to which you (and they) may be held.
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