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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.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY KIM MOORE
Transportation accounts for the second-largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S. (28% in 2012), and the use of renewable fuels, such as biodiesel and ethanol, is booming in light of state and national programs to make transportation fuels cleaner.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR
Dress for Success Oregon promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
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For Far West Fibers, one of Oregon's largest and oldest mixed-recycling companies, garbage alchemy has long been big business.
Friday, June 06, 2014
BY KATIE AUSBURGER | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
How to build a hipster-friendly work environment.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Brad Baker, CEO and co-founder of Works Electric, is a good husband. His wife, an OHSU employee, sought a more efficient way to commute up Marquam “Pill” Hill, so she asked Baker to build a transportation solution.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Monday, June 30, 2014
Oregon Business magazine won two silver awards for excellence in writing in the National American Society of Business Publication Editors Western region competition.
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