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Most City of Portland offices will be closed Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day.

Join the Portland Utility Board

A blue rectangle with the words: "Join the Portland Utility Board". To the left of the words is a yellow circle with a plus sign in it.

Questions about serving on the Portland Utility Board? Interested in talking with a current Board member about their experiences on the Board?

Contact us anytime  or 503-823-1810

The Portland Utility Board has a minimum of 3 open positions. We encourage community members with diverse lived, work, and community experience and a passion for clean drinking water, healthy communities, and healthy watersheds to apply.

View the application and more details online.

Serving on the Portland Utility Board (PUB)  is a unique opportunity to give community voice, perspective, and influence on the budget and policy decisions of the Portland Water Bureau, Bureau of Environmental Services, and City Council.

You’ll have the opportunity to gain knowledge about the inner workings of the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services; the policy and budget issues related to water, sewer, and utilities; and how City government works. You’ll have the chance to use and develop your skills and experience working on a collaborative board and presenting recommendations to bureau leadership and elected officials.

We Welcome All Skills and Experience!

The Portland Utility Board is looking to build a board reflective of a broad range of perspectives, lived experiences, community connections, volunteer experience, and work experience with everyone bringing something different and unique to give the board a variety of experience and input. The board looks for board members who will advocate for communities they represent and are connected to as well as give voice to those who are not in the room.

Please apply if any of these describe you:

  • You are an advocate for anti-racism, equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice.
  • You believe in the value of contributing to the community and to good governance.
  • You have an interest in environmental justice in this time of climate crisis, water, sewer, storm water, affordability, public and watershed health, or building resilience.
  • You are committed to collaboration, transparency, and accountability.

No prior experience serving on boards or working with utilities is necessary, just an interest in and commitment to these topics. You might have just the experience, skill, or interest to complement the team!

Support for your participation

Below is some information regarding supports that we provide. Please let us know if we missed anything.

Virtual meetings — Meetings are currently conducted virtually via Zoom with automated captioning. Participation requires an Internet connection as well as a computer, tablet or smartphone capable of supporting audio and video running the Zoom application. If the technology requirements for serving on the Board present a barrier for you, please do not let that stop you from applying. Contact Board staff so we can support your technology needs.

Transportation and food — If meeting in person, TriMet and/or parking passes will be available. Food that accommodates dietary needs may also be provided.

Interpretation and Translation —We are readily able provide interpretation and translation to support your participation on the PUB.

Materials in an alternative format, auxiliary aids, or other accommodations —We are readily able to provide materials in an alternative format, auxiliary aids, or other accommodations to support your participation on the PUB.

Payment/Stipend - PUB voting members may receive a monetary payment of up to $500 per calendar year from the city for volunteer service. The payment is a stipend in recognition of voluntary participation in the PUB’s work and acknowledgement of the unique contributions of diverse lived experiences, perspectives, and areas of expertise.

Do not let a barrier deter you from applying! Please contact Board staff with any requests, questions, or concerns so we can address them together.

Highlights of recent Board accomplishments

Affordability The Board’s equity-driven approach to affordability adds momentum to BES’ own efforts to rethink affordability. The Board centers those who are least able to pay their bills and thus, are most impacted by even small rate changes. The Board’s input has encouraged the bureau to engage more deeply with communities to better understand their lived experiences and the impact BES’ policies have on them, resulting in positive innovations, e.g., in BES’ partnerships.

Ambassadorship — PUB creates broader connections to communities for the utility bureaus. Serving on PUB gives community members a nuanced understanding of bureau operations, the multi-faceted issues they face, and the importance and complexity of utility work. PUB members effectively serve as bureau-community connectors. They are able to speak to the importance of the utility bureaus and to invite other community members to engage with PUB and the bureaus, giving the bureaus a wider network of community relations.

Billing, Debt Recovery, and Financial Assistance The Board encourages the bureaus to develop policies and practices that address the needs of those most impacted by structural inequities, e.g., evaluation of the effectiveness and value of shutting off water service. The Board has also encouraged the Water Bureau to adopt communication methods that are more effective with communities the government struggles to reach. The Board has emphasized active consideration of the lived realities of communities in devising communication strategies. PUB’s input contributed to the bureau’s decision to revise the language in customer notices and to increase outreach to customers with outstanding past due balances.

Hiring, Retention, and Promotion Practices— The Board’s united voice on the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity in the bureaus’ hiring practices and insistence that the bureaus address deficient practices has amplified the energy and attention with which BES tackles these issues. PUB’s interest in BES’ work on these issues has helped staff check their assumptions, be more reflective, ensure they are doing a good job of explaining current processes, and include more people in the work.

Small Business Program for Utility Relief (SPUR)– In response to PUB feedback, bureau leadership adjusted the timeline, engaged more directly with community leaders, and worked with PUB to form a community-driven selection committee.PUB emphasized the importance of including those the program intends to serve, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) small business owners, early on in designing the program; the importance of choosing partners who have earned and enjoy relationship and trust within BIPOC communities; and the need to ensure decisions are not made within a vacuum of white privilege. A PUB representative served on the SPUR committee and was instrumental in improving the program. Like PUB, the SPUR committee encouraged the bureaus to take a relational approach to community. For example, the SPUR committee recommended directly contacting applicants who did not receive a credit to offer them other supports. PUB input on SPUR has also had far-reaching impact, e.g., BES will use this feedback in designing outreach for the Comprehensive Rate Review. PUB continues to advocate for funds at the local and state level.

Typical Time Commitment Serving on the Board

Currently, Board meetings and business are done virtually until the Board decides otherwise.When/if choosing to meet in-person or hybrid the City’s current safety protocols will be followed. If you need a virtual meeting option during any in-person meeting, we are happy to provide that support.

Term length — Three-year terms for voting members, One-Year terms for ex-officio members.

Monthly time commitment — Board members estimate the monthly time commitment to be 7-15 hours based on your participation in projects. Board work is conducted in meetings on regular dates set by the members and requires some between meeting work. This includes: 

  • Monthly board meetings — Board work is primarily conducted in two monthly board meetings during standard business hours. Currently, the Board meets virtually on the first Tuesdays, 3:30 pm-5:00pm and third Thursdays, 11:00am-12:30pm. Time and location subject to change by a Board decision and support provided to allow participation whether virtual or in-person. These are the meetings where board decisions and actions are made. 
  • Optional subcommittee meetings — Occasionally subcommittee meetings are scheduled to work in-depth on an issue. Attendance is optional based on interest in helping develop the topic that will be considered by the Board. 
  • Between meeting work — The primary between-meeting work involves reviewing meeting materials with the expectation that you come to meetings prepared for discussion. Meeting materials may be sent between 7 days and 48 hours ahead of scheduled meetings.
  • Administrative Review Committee —  Portland Utility Board members have the opportunity to participate in some administrative review committee meetings run by the Portland Water Bureau or the Bureau of Environmental Services. The meeting times are set by the bureaus and currently occur on weekdays during 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. hours. The purpose of the Administrative Review Committee is to review ratepayer requests for account adjustments, proposed account actions, and other disputes concerning water, sewer, and/or stormwater accounts that the bureaus’ Customer Services group has been unable to resolve. Current Board members have said that participation on administrative review committees enhances their ability to weigh in on policy issues that impact the bureaus’ work.

New board member orientation — New members will also need approximately 4-10 hours for onboarding on topics such as City budgeting, the bureaus’ operations and strategic plans, and your role as an appointed public official. Where possible, materials are provided to watch and review on your own time and any training is scheduled around individual availability in the first few months of service.

It is the policy of the City of Portland that no person shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any city program, service, or activity on the grounds of race, color, national origin, disability, or other protected class status. Adhering to Civil Rights Title VI and ADA Title II civil rights laws, the City of Portland ensures meaningful access to City programs, services, and activities by reasonably providing: translation and interpretation, modifications, accommodations, alternative formats, and auxiliary aids and services.  To request these services, or to file a complaint of discrimination, contact or call 503-823-1810 or 311 (503-823-4000), for Relay Service and TTY: 711.