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PRESS RELEASE 01/02/14: City Commissioner Nick Fish Announces Groundbreaking New Partnership with Consumer Advocate Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon

Today, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish announced a first-of-its-kind partnership between the City of Portland and the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon (CUB). Next Wednesday, January 8, the City Council will take up a Resolution, co-sponsored by Commissioners Nick Fish and Steve Novick, formally approving the agreement. 

The Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon (CUB), a public benefit non-profit, was created in 1984 by a citizens’ ballot initiative to represent the interests of residential utility customers.

The City of Portland provides sewer, stormwater, and water services to 180,000 customer accounts, almost 90% of which are residential.

In its three decades of service, CUB has been a leader in ratepayer advocacy, achieving an estimated savings of $5.8 billion for residential ratepayers across Oregon.

During this proposed five-year partnership, CUB will provide outside, independent analysis of the operations and budgeting of the City’s two utility bureaus, the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and the Portland Water Bureau (PWB), and will make recommendations to the Council based on that analysis.

CUB will conduct extensive community outreach to key stakeholders, including neighborhood groups, commercial and large industrial customers, civic groups, and environmental organizations to identify issues that are important to ratepayers. CUB will then develop recommendations concerning the bureaus’ budgets, capital planning, and longer-term policy questions.

“I believe that sunshine leads to better decisions and outcomes. When I was assigned the City’s two utilities in June of 2013, I committed to high standards of accountability and transparency in my bureaus,” said Commissioner Nick Fish.

“CUB has a 30-year track record of successful advocacy for residential ratepayers across Oregon – older adults on fixed incomes, hardworking parents, young families just starting out. This groundbreaking partnership will be good for the City and good for Portland ratepayers.”

Commissioner Steve Novick, co-sponsor of the Resolution, hailed the agreement as an important step forward. “CUB has spent years developing a reputation as a tough but fair and thoughtful critic of the rates and spending decisions of the private utilities. Portlanders and the City can only benefit from having CUB apply that kind of tough, fair and thoughtful analysis to the City utilities.”

To acknowledge and honor CUB’s independence, the City will not pay for this outside oversight. Instead, the City will publicize its partnership with CUB and ask Portland customers to consider joining the member-supported organization.

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