Eugene Water & Electric Board to retain hydro project under new contracts

Eugene Water & Electric Board Commissioners on May 5 approved two separate agreements that will keep a run-of-the-river project capable of producing 12 megawatts of power providing clean and reliable power to EWEB customers.

Owned by Oregon-based public power utility EWEB since 1994, Stone Creek is a hydro generation project on the Clackamas River approximately 45 miles southeast of Portland.

Historically the facility has been operated and maintained for EWEB by investor-owned Portland General Electric, but in late 2019, PGE notified EWEB that it would no longer operate the plant due to changes in its corporate strategy.

"Though a relatively small generation facility, Stone Creek has consistently provided positive revenues to EWEB customers and is a reliable producer of carbon-free, local hydropower for Eugene and the region," said EWEB General Manager Frank Lawson.

With the operations and maintenance contract between EWEB and PGE about to expire, EWEB Commissioners at the May 5 Board meeting approved two separate agreements that will keep Stone Creek providing power to EWEB customers.

The first is a five-year Intergovernmental Agreement with Energy Northwest to operate the hydroelectric plant and the transmission line running from the plant to EWEB's Harriet Lake Substation.

Energy Northwest is a public power joint action agency based in Richland, Washington.

The second agreement is a 10-year contract with PGE to operate the transmission line that ties the Harriet Substation into PGE's Oak Grove Substation, where the output from Stone Creek ties into the regional grid.

EWEB is licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to operate Stone Creek through 2038. In addition to Stone Creek, EWEB customers own three McKenzie River hydro generation projects: Leaburg and Walterville hydroelectric projects, and Carmen-Smith.

Decisions such as retaining the Stone Creek project are part of EWEB's ongoing Electricity Supply Planning effort, a process that helps utilities understand the resources, technology, and infrastructure that will be needed to meet customers' future electricity needs, EWEB noted.

"The most significant decisions confronting EWEB in the next decade involve sources of supply," said Lawson. "We are looking at factors such as climate change and evolving customer expectations, and making generation resources choices that not only meet today's needs but also provide flexibility for serving our community under a variety of future conditions."

Nearly 80 percent of Eugene’s power comes from hydroelectric projects.