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    With winter weather fast-approaching, Oregon utility Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) is expected to soon request from its board of commissioners an electric rate increase of 8 percent, which could bring residents electricity bills up by $15.

    According KMTR News, the utility said that if the proposal is approved, the higher electricity rates would go into effect in 2013. EWEB is no stranger to raising electricity rates, however. The utility has raised its rates three times since May 2011, resulting in a collective 13 percent increase in energy rates.

    EWEB say that the hikes are necessary to fund infrastructure development and maintenance, which otherwise would fall behind the times.

    “Without the electric and water rate increases, you start to cut back on infrastructure replacement, you cut back on reliability and you can really do some serious damage to the utility,” said Joe Harwood, communication coordinator for EWEB. “One of the things our customers says, we survey them every year, what they want most is they want reliable electricity, clean water and they want affordable rates.”

    Fortunately for Oregon ratepayers, the state introduced energy deregulation measures in 2002, allowing customers to shop around for the best electricity rates.