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local | Politics | News

As Pipes Age And Rates Rise, Portland Voters Consider Stripping City Of Utilities

May 5, 2014 7 a.m.

In cities across the nation, water is getting more expensive. In Portland, rate increases at the city’s public utilities are behind a measure on the ballot, 26-156, to create a water and sewer district.

local | News

Utility Crews Still Working To Restore Electricity To Downtown Portland

Dec. 9, 2013 7:49 p.m.

A Portland General Electric repair crew continues to work under a street in downtown Portland, in an effort to restore power to an eight-block area.

Energy | Economy | local

Oregon Public Utility Commission Approves Rate Changes For Natural Gas

Oct. 29, 2013 9:39 p.m.

Many Oregonians will pay more to heat their homes in November than they did last year.  The Oregon Public Utility Commission approved rate changes for all three of the state's natural gas companies.  But, not everybody will be seeing a larger bill.

local | Technology | News | OPB News Blog

Top Stories: Portland Creates Rules For Google Fiber Utility Cabinets, Bend Task Force To Regulate Vacation Rentals

Nov. 6, 2014 4:15 p.m.

Headlines for Thursday, Nov. 6: Portland is drawing up new rules for Google Fiber and other businesses to install utility cabinets; Bend is creating a new task force to steer the city's approach to regulations for vacation rentals; counties and municipalities may have options in banning recreational marijuana; and more.

local | Politics | News | OPB News Blog

Top Stories: 3 Gubernatorial Debates Scheduled, Hermiston Makes Moves For Natural Gas Utility

Aug. 26, 2014 3:15 p.m.

Headlines for Tuesday, Aug. 26: The candidates for governor have set dates for three of five debates, Hermiston has taken the first step in forming its own utility to provide natural gas, Grants Pass native Ty Burrell won an Emmy Monday night for his role in "Modern Family," and more.

Energy | Water | News | local | Will We Be Ready For The Megaquake In Oregon?

How To Safely Turn Off Utilities After A Disaster

May 15, 2015 9:45 p.m.

In the wake of a natural disaster like an earthquake, the natural gas, water and electricity in a home become potentially serious threats to health and well-being.

local | Business | Economy

In Redmond, Responsibility For Utilities Shifts From Renters To Owners

May 29, 2013 10:56 p.m.

The city of Redmond will soon change the way renters wind up paying for city utilities. Redmond's city council unanimously approved a measure requiring water, sewer and garbage accounts to be in the names of property owners rather than the tenants. 

Energy | News | local

Oregon Utility Commission Shrinks Pacificorp Rate Hike

Dec. 21, 2012 1:14 a.m.

Oregon’s Public Utility Commission has sliced a rate increase requested by the electric company, Pacificorp.

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Think Out Loud

Eliminating Coal Power From Oregon's Biggest Utilities

Feb. 4, 2016 9:10 p.m.

Representatives Jessica Vega Pederson and Cliff Bentz talk about the Oregon Energy Bill (HB 4036), which would would eliminate the use of coal energy by Oregon’s two biggest utilities by 2035.

local | News | Think Out Loud

Coal By Wire | Motor Voter | Valhalla

Feb. 4, 2016 6:17 p.m.

We talk to legislative representatives on both sides of a bill that would eliminate the use of coal energy by Oregon's two biggest utilities by 2035. The Oregon Secretary of State discusses how the implementation of the state’s automatic voter registration law is going. And we speak with the backcountry guide who led a trip down a previously undocumented slot canyon for Oregon Field Guide.

Think Out Loud

Increasing Incentives for Energy Efficiciency

June 10, 2013 7:06 p.m.

Oregon is listed as the fourth most energy efficient state in the US, behind Massachusetts, California, and New York. But can we do even better? A new study from Oregon State University addresses the disparity between the incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and how to bridge that gap. When a utility company invests in renewable power sources, such as hydroelectric or wind power, they earn a profit from the energy sold. When an old refrigerator is replaced with a new one, or incandescent light bulbs are swapped for fluorescent ones, energy consumption decreases, as do utility companies' profits. The study doesn't advocate replacing renewable energy with energy efficiency. Rather, it suggests that the promotion of and incentives for energy efficiency be just as attractive and available as those that exist for renewable energy.

Think Out Loud

Columbus Day Storm: 50 Years Later

Oct. 12, 2012 7:25 p.m.

Kathleen Langtry was 15 years old when she, her brother and mother narrowly escaped being hit with spraying glass from a storefront window. They rushed home to meet up with her other two sisters. It was a long wait until her father got home well after dark, shaken up from nearly being blown into the Willamette River.  That Columbus Day Storm would claim nearly 50 lives in Oregon and Washington before it was finished. The cleanup from the damages it wreaked cost an estimated $200 million — in 1962 dollars. According to PGE, the storm left nearly 98 percent of the utility's customers without power. Many families — like Langtry's — were trapped in their homes without access to phone, lights or food. Here's an Oregonian video looking back at the storm

Think Out Loud

How We Live: Houseboat

Aug. 6, 2012 7:40 p.m.

How We Live is our series that explores how the places where people live reflect their beliefs and principles — what the physical space says about how they live their lives. We've visited a tiny house and a pocket neighborhood and this time, we went to the Jantzen Beach Moorage to talk with people who live in floating homes: Floating homes are often called "houseboats," by many people even though they are actually stationary. There are a handful of floating home communities along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Some of the structures date back to the early days of Oregon's statehood when floating bordellos catered to mill workers. Today, the homes are docked together and neighbors share utilities and, in some cases, ownership of the docks themselves. Not surprisingly, the lives of the moorage residents are ruled very much by the weather. As our guest Ron Schmidt says,

In the summertime, it gets to be a real party atmosphere. Everyone’s outdoors and boaters are going by. People come and visit. It’s very festive. Then come fall when the rains return, it gets to be a little more tranquil down here.

Think Out Loud

Environmental Update

May 8, 2012 4:30 p.m.

Two years ago, a historic agreement was struck to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath river. But the process is far from over. The agreement (pdf) signed by a group of Klamath River stakeholders  can only be enacted if approved by Congress and the Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior conducted several studies of the area to determine if the dam removal would revive the salmon population. Recently, a former scientific integrity officer has brought the studies into question. He says the studies are too optimistic about the outcomes of the dam removal.

Think Out Loud

Local Elections

Nov. 9, 2011 5:06 p.m.

Updated 8:20am Nov. 9, 2011 Voters are making key decisions in local elections all across the country. Oregonians in the First Congressional District will decide which two candidates to send to the special election in May. (We spoke with the Republican and Democratic frontrunners last month.) Washington voters will decide whether or not to privatize liquor sales in that state. This is an issue that failed to pass last year and if it passes this time, it could fuel a similar effort in Oregon — that's something we've also talked about on Think Out Loud. Washingtonians will also weigh in on how toll money should be spent and how home care workers should be trained. Outside of our region, some local elections have broader implications that could impact the Pacific Northwest. In the swing state of Ohio, an effort to repeal a state law that limits public employees' bargaining rights could serve as a bellwether for the 2012 presidential election. Voters in Boulder, Colorado voted last week to create a public utility after studying Portland's failed attempt to do so five years ago.

Think Out Loud

Abuse at Coffee Creek Prison

May 1, 2012 4:25 p.m.

Oregonian investigative reporter Les Zaitz looked into widespread sexual abuse at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility for a story published in the paper on Sunday. His detailed report includes a number of alarming findings. He wrote:

Sex acts occurred all over the 108-acre prison campus — in cleaning closets, utility tunnels, toolsheds, woodlands and under a firetruck. Security weaknesses identified three years ago remain because prison managers couldn't get money to fix them.
Sexual contact between prison inmates and correctional staff is a felony under state law, and a number of Department of Corrections employees have been convicted of sexual misconduct and other offenses. The state has also settled several lawsuits with victims, paying out more than $1 million.

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