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Springfield Utility Board cannot claim competitor's territory, new ruling says

NatronMapcropped.jpg
Emerald People's Utility District
The Natron Area is a segment of Eastern Springfield that has become disputed territory between the Emerald People's Utility District and the Springfield Utility Board.

The Springfield Utility Board cannot claim territory or facilities from a local competitor, according to a recent ruling.

There are roughly 200 homes in the Natron Area, near the edge of Springfield city limits. Currently, they receive electricity from the Emerald People’s Utility District.

However, since the city incorporated the area in the 2000s, SUB has contested this jurisdiction. General Manager Jeff Nelson said having one utility company for the whole city would be more efficient.

Nelson said SUB previously sought to buy the facilities, but Emerald PUD rejected the offer. Last year, SUB passed a resolution to claim the territory, but a Lane County circuit judge denied its request for legal validation.

Emerald PUD manager Kyle Roadman said the ruling sets an important precedent.

“If cities are allowed to take the most prime areas, the areas that are easiest to serve, lowest cost to serve, that will mean higher rates for all of our other customers. “

Roadman said Emerald PUD serves nearly 2,000 customers bordering the territories of SUB and EWEB. According to Nelson, no other territory is currently being disputed.

Nathan Wilk is a freelance reporter and former reporting intern. He began in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon. He is a senior at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.