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local | Business

Q&A: Utilities Make Wind And Coal Power Announcements

July 19, 2011 5:15 p.m.

Northwest utilities were busy Tuesday. Portland General Electric settled a long-standing lawsuit over its coal plant. At the same time, the Bonneville Power Administration addressed its complicated relationship with wind power by making two announcements Tuesday.

local | Energy | News

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.


Utility Uses Social Media To Spur Conservation

July 5, 2012 1:27 p.m.

Utilities in Southwest Washington are logging onto the rapidly changing world of social media, in hopes of getting customers to use less power.

local | Energy | News | Water | Unprepared: Will We Be Ready For The Megaquake?

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.


Charter Commission Considers A New Utility Board

Jan. 29, 2012 6 a.m.

Portland's charter commission has begun hearings on a plan to create a public utility board.

Environment | Energy

Oregon Utility Vetoes St. Helens Coal Export Terminal

May 2, 2012 10:55 p.m.

Portland General Electric may have put the brakes on one of two coal export terminals proposed for the Port of St. Helens.


Mortgage Assistance Under-Utilized In Central Oregon

March 16, 2012 5:27 p.m.

A program offering mortgage assistance to homeowners is under-utilized in Central Oregon. This week, Oregon’s housing authority is running ads on local radio stations to get the word out.

local | News | Technology | 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.

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Two Drawer Utility Chest

July 16, 2013 8:15 p.m.

Walnut and figured hard maple combine to make this Shaker masterpiece shine.

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

On The Job: Emergency Volunteers

Oct. 10, 2011 4:25 p.m.

A phone call reporting a man experiencing severe chest pain woke Frank Billington in the middle of the night, and he was first on the scene in a matter of minutes. The patient was in a great deal of pain with a very irregular heartbeat. Frank did what he could to stabilize him before the paramedics arrived and whisked him away to the nearest hospital. The patient survived and later, the EMTs told Frank it was unusual for someone to pull through after such a serious heart attack. "I like to think I had something to do with that," Frank said humbly.  Frank lives in a house owned by the local fire district, which means he basically runs a one-man fire station out of his family's home. He has a what's known as a mini pumper vehicle at his disposal. (It's basically a scaled down fire truck with medical supplies on board.) He's often the first on the scene of a fire or medical emergency, but this isn't his paid job. Frank is a shift superintendent at Clark Public Utilities. He's also a volunteer fire and medical responder in rural Washington, near Washougal.

Think Out Loud

Bike Building at Oregon Manifest

Sept. 23, 2011 4:35 p.m.

Imagine the perfect utility bike. You use it to get to work, to go grocery shopping. Now imagine turning that vision into a working piece of art. Builders competing in the 2011 Constructor's Design Challenge have been charged with creating the "ultimate modern utility bike.” On Friday the finished bikes will be revealed. They'll be judged on innovation, design and execution, and they'll have to complete a 50 mile field test. There is a list of mandatory features all bikes need, including an anti-theft system and load-carrying system. This year's competition differs from the innaugural one in that there are now three designer-craftsmen collaboration teams. The teams pair top design firms with talented bike builders. Winners will be announced on Saturday and then displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

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.


That's My Art: Mona Superhero

March 26, 2012 2 a.m.

Self-taught utility tape artist Mona Superhero uses duct tape and an X-acto knife to create work reminiscent of '60s-style silk-screened pop art.

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