Republic Service customers in Corvallis will not have to support the company’s efforts to electrify its fleets — at least for the 2024 calendar year, the City Council has decided.
When the 10-year concession agreement came up for renewal last month, council members said OK but deferred a request from Republic Services for a one-time 4.7% rate increase to pay for electric garbage hauling vehicles and related charging infrastructure.
How has the recent election changed the way East Linn County interacts with its unhoused population?
They took up the topic again on Monday, Nov. 6, when council unanimously agreed to postpone plans to partner with Republic Services to electrify its trash hauling fleet.
People read too…
Ward 4 Councilman Gabe Shepherd moved a motion to not adopt a 4.7% electrification rate for calendar year 2024. The motion passed without any objections.
Although not included in the new concession agreement, the council has been asked to consider adding a one-time 4.7% increase to resident-paid trash collection rates.
The addition would have adjusted collection rates in the new concession period by 9.6%, or $2 per month for the average 32-gallon cart customer.
Council members were divided over the electrification rate at the October 2 council meeting last month.
While Ward 8 Councilor Tracy Yee argued that the increase was in line with feedback from a community survey about what residents are willing to pay for a more sustainable garbage collection fleet, Shepherd expressed concern about the lack of deadlines for switching to an electric fleet. He also expressed concern about putting more price burdens on taxpayers.
Other concerns raised by the Council, in subsequent exchanges with Public Works, ranged from concerns about enforcement, to other cities that may have adopted rates and the future impact of subsequent rate increases over the life of the new 10-year concession agreement.
Republic Services has electrified its fleet in Boise, Idaho, according to Chris Kelly, director of Public Works’ internal services division, and is in conversation with leaders in Salem, which has not adopted electrification rates.
Ten trucks were expected to be converted over the next two or three years, according to Kelly, and funding was to come from a number of sources, including customers who pay electricity fees, grant financing and the sale of compressed natural gas trucks that use them. They have not yet reached the end of their lives.
As with all rates included in the concession agreement, Kelly also explained that the city is entitled to 5% of the revenue generated by the electricity rate adoption.
At the Nov. 6 meeting, Kelly clarified that without adding price, the company has no plans to implement electric vehicles at this time in Corvallis.
“It pretty much seems like putting an additional burden on the community to move forward doesn’t make any sense,” Ward 9 Councilman Tony Cadena said at the Nov. 6 council meeting. “I don’t see the value of it.”
Several council members said voter response to the electrification rate has been largely negative and hostile to borders.
This, despite the survey finding that about 64% of the 489 respondents would be willing to take at least a $1 to $5 increase in their monthly bill for a more sustainable waste hauling fleet.
Ward 5 Councilor Charlene Ellis, who also serves as the council’s liaison to the Climate Action Advisory Council, said that although she had to subsidize the electrification rate for climate reasons, Republic Services is a very profitable business and should not be asking the community to do so. You bear the cost of your operation anyway.
Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing today.
Ellis also questioned whether the decline in electrification was related to the pushback related to the expansion of the Coffin Butte landfill operated by Republic Services.
Before moving the proposal to drop the electricity rate, Shepherd said he would have supported the proposal if there was a way to set it as a cash fee that would not double. He added that it is also important to request a schedule of quarterly or semi-annual reports from the Republic’s services on spending and progress in the electrification process.
Republic Services announced in February that the company plans to convert half of its garbage and recycling trucks to electric vehicles by 2028. That represents about 8,000 trucks nationwide.
It’s not clear whether the electrification rate conversation will resume after calendar year 2024, but according to Kelly, the council’s decision means “Corvallis will not be on the waiting list to convert the Republic’s transportation fleet to electric.”
Kosisochukwu Ugwuede (she/her) covers the cities of Corvallis, Philomath and Millersburg. She can be reached via email at Kosiso.Ugwuede@lee.net or by phone at 541-812-6091.