View Mobile Site

When will LAFCo process end for SSJID power bid?

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED May 29, 2013 1:45 a.m.

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District board hopes $150,000 will be enough to hit a “moving target” and end a 46-month ordeal of trying to get its bid to reduce power rates by 15 percent past the Local Agency Formation Commission.

That’s the way that general counsel Steve Emrick described the quest for completing the LAFCo required municipal service review that is crucial to the organization’s bid to takeover PG&E’s existing power delivery system in Manteca, Ripon and Escalon.

And with nearly $500,000 already invested in the process – including $250,000 for the initial report by PA Consulting and more than $200,000 for a redraft (plus administrative fees imposed by LAFCO) – the price tag for the latest go-round left many on the board shaking their heads in disbelief. It is $350,000.

“If paying for the report was what it took to get this done, then maybe that would be one thing. But this is a never-ending process – there’s nothing to suggest that this report is going to be the end of it,” SSJID General Manager Jeff Shields said following the board’s closed session decision to approve less than half of what LAFCO is asking for to try and complete the report. “It’s a never-ending process. It seems to leave us floating out there in space.”

It’s the second time that SSJID has been through the application process with LAFCo since they first put in a bid to takeover PG&E’s existing power grid via eminent domain nearly a decade ago.

The first bid was denied – somewhat prejudicially – after members of the commission (most of whom are no longer in their elected offices) took issue with the fact that the district was going to use eminent domain in its pursuit.  PG&E as a quasi-public agency uses eminent domain  on an ongoing basis to take private property so they can put infrastructure in place to make money.

While the consulting firm that was hired by LAFCo has said that SSJID is fiscally capable of absorbing Northern California’s largest power provider’s local operations, they also valued  the PG&E system at a much higher level.

According to Shields, asking the same firm to come in for a third time to assess the situation – especially at a cost that high – removes the “independent” aspect from the equation.

“Neither one of the reports stand up – they’re both out date – and LAFCo wants to hire them again,” he said. “There are plenty of firms in the Northern California that are capable of doing this work and doing it better than PA (consultants) did, and they do work for the California Public Utilities Commission all the time.

“Price curves, economic rate projections, power supplies – these other firms know their practice. And when you consider that PA has been a consultant for PG&E for years, it’s easy to see that we need somebody that’s truly independent.”

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...