Keeping water affordable while making key investments in our water system is a top priority at the Portland Water Bureau—and something our whole team takes to heart.
“What we care about is our customers. We want to provide only safe and reliable water to our customers today and in the future while maintaining affordable rates,” says Cecelia Huynh, Finance Director for the Portland Water Bureau.
As the Improved Corrosion Control Treatment and Filtration projects progress, this means taking advantage of fixed, low-rate financing options for funding water infrastructure, managing costs closely, and offering assistance to customers facing financial difficulties.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program is one of the ways we’re helping keep water affordable and providing the infrastructure to support and revive our economy. Introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley, this federal program offers low-interest loans to stimulate infrastructure spending, improve ratepayer affordability, and create jobs by offering low-cost project financing. Thanks to the WIFIA program, we expect that we’ll save our customers $247 million over the term of the loan.
“The WIFIA program is great! It will allow us to lock in a very low interest rate loan to help pay for the project,” says Huynh. “And throughout the project, we’re working to keep costs as low as possible by finding creative ways to save money and resources.”
We’re also closely managing the projects to make the best use of every dollar. Every time we make decisions for the projects, we’re evaluating the costs and benefits and taking care to use all project resources wisely.
For customers who could use help with their bill, we offer a number of financial assistance programs, including bill discounts and crisis vouchers to qualifying low-income customers. And all customers have the option of setting up flexible payment arrangements. Our friendly customer service team is ready to help people determine which program is best for their situation.
“Making sure that our customers can afford water is very important to us. We want to be doing that now and in the future for future customers,” says Huynh.