EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – After months of cutting back spending, electricity price hikes are now forcing the Emerald People’s Utility District to cut jobs.
EPUD has announced it is cutting 10 jobs with pink slips going out on Wednesday June 27th, 2012. Two of the positions that are being cut are currently vacant and will not be filled. However, 8 people will lose their active job at EPUD as a result of the cuts.
The utility says the layoffs are a last resort after differing millions in operational expenses and announcing a rate hike along with asking employees to adjust benefits.
Ultimately, EPUD says the budget issues are being forced by the Bonneville Power Administration. EPUD gets virtually all of its electricity from BPA, while raised wholesale electricity rate by about 8% in September 2011.
EPUD is expecting BPA to raise its wholesale electricity rates between 10 and 20 percent in the next year as well.
Other financial issues for EPUD are being caused by the reduced rate EPUD is buying surplus power and selling it on the market.
To combat the costs, EPUD has deferred 2.2 million dollars in operational costs, including a delay in spending money on vehicle purchases, excavation services, equipment upgrades, materials and supplies, improvements to technology, labor, legal and consulting services, professional development, travel, subscription, membership dues and direct mailing.
The utility is also raising rates by 3% in the next year.
With all of the cuts and changes though, EPUD says its not enough to keep up with BPA’s prices. Now, it has to shrink its employee base.
“These are folks that they come here to do the work and they stay because they love the people, it's just a really, really difficult time to say goodbye to the people that have been here for decades,” says Amber Fossen, Communications Supervisor for EPUD.
Fossen says with the difficult move of cutting staff, “the drive is really about doing the right thing for customer owners and in this economy, to keep those rate increases going up and up and up, we've got to figure out a way to mitigate that,” says Fossen.
EPUD says the 10 jobs that are being cut are a mix of different positions. With all of the cuts, EPUD says it will save 700,000 dollars in 2012, with about 27,000 dollars of that is labor costs. In 2013, EPUD says it will save 900,000 in labor costs.