Desmond O'Boyle

Solar powered cars? There may be problems driving at night, but during a perfectly sunny day in Eugene Saturday, middle school-ers tried their models out during the annual Solar Challenge.

The competition held at Cal Young Middle School, is sponsored by the Eugene Water and Electric Board and featured about 250 students. Cars were entered into four categories: Speed racing, a hill climb, and art and science concept cars. Tim Whitley is EWEB's grant coordinator. He says the project increases awareness of alternative energy and gives kids a hands-on opportunity.


Four groups have expressed interest in developing a 27-acre tract along the Willamette River in Eugene. Eugene Water and Electric Board envisions a vibrant, mixed-use "people place" at their Riverfront site.

EWEB has moved most of its operations to West Eugene and has been working for years on a vision for the property along the Willamette River.  Jeanine Parisi is Community Relations Coordinator at EWEB. She says choosing a developer is a key step in transforming the riverfront from an industrial site to something else.


Pre-Construction activities are scheduled to begin in May for the West Eugene Em-X transit project.


For decades, the government has relied on regulations to protect water quality. But what if cities tried something other than simply telling people what they can -- and cannot -- do?

What if cities actually rewarded people for managing their land in ways that keep rivers cool and clean?

Two Oregon cities are trying this approach.

Marilyn Cross lives alongside the McKenzie River. It’s home to salmon and steelhead and the source of drinking water for the downstream city of Eugene.

Desmond O'Boyle

Despite rainy and windy conditions, hundreds of people celebrated Earth Day Saturday in the Eugene Water and Electric Board's downtown parking lot. The wind seemed to be more of a factor than the rain. Elizabeth Brown is with the organization "Our Children's Trust" who operated a booth at Earth Day. She says they tied their booth next to two adjacent ones.


The Eugene Water and Electric Board hopes to start repairing Leaburg Dam as soon as May. The cost to fix the 83-year-old structure on the McKenzie River is projected to be $2.8 million. That's about twice the previous estimate.

The motor in one of the dam's three roll gates failed in 2012. The gate has been in the down position ever since.  The roll-gates regulate how much water flows through the dam, which generates power for about 10-thousand homes. Joe Harwood is spokesman for EWEB. He says it's not surprising the first cost estimate of $1.2 million was off.

EWEB Facebook page

Thousands of Oregonians were still without power Monday morning after Saturday's ice storm. Crews from local utilities have been working long hours to restore it but for a few people the wait may go into tomorrow.

As of Monday morning about 14 hundred Eugene Water & Electric customers were without power.  EWEB's Joe Harwood estimates Saturday morning about 6 thousand had their power out. Harwood says Saturday's ice storm was unprecedented:

KMTR News, Eugene

Following last week's snow and freezing rain Saturday, utility companies have been dealing with power outages throughout the South Willamette Valley.

According to the Eugene Water and Electric Board, thousands of customers are without power particularly in the South hills, the Laurel Hill Valley, and a portion of southwest Eugene. EWEB Spokesman Joe Harwood says crews have been working through night.

Harwood: "It's one of those things where we take two steps forward and three steps back."

Harwood says multiple crews worked until around 3 AM trying to restore power.

The last winter storm in December left hundreds of Eugene residents with frozen or burst pipes. That means more work for plumbers and utility workers, but the costs can be expensive for homeowners or renters. Joe Harwood is the Communications Coordinator for the Eugene Water and Electric Board. He has some tips for keeping your pipes from freezing.


Last week's record lows will mean higher-than-normal utility bills for Eugene Water and Electric Board customers. The cold also wreaked havoc on plumbing for many residents.

EWEB Public Affairs Manager Lance Robertson says between 70 to 80 percent of homes in the area are heated by electricity. He says EWEB noticed a 30% increase over a five day period compared to average usage.

Robertson: "Whenever temperatures drop to a really extreme temperature, people are going to use more electricity no matter how much insulation they have in their house."