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Manteca avoids paying PG&E $400,000 yearly thanks to SSJID
solar farm
A SSJID worker walks along panels at the Robert Schulz Solar Farm.

South San Joaquin Irrigation District hasn’t yet cleared the final court hurdles to become Manteca’s retail electricity provider but they have already been saving residents and businesses money when it comes to PG&E costs.

The savings come to roughly $300,000 a year.

And thanks to a decision the SSJID board made this month, that annual savings is targeted to jump to $400,000.

The numbers reflect the avoidance of buying electricity from PG&E to operate the SSJID’s surface water treatment  plant that supplies drinking water to Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy.

The board authorized the repowering of a portion of the solar farm put in place in 2009 next to the treatment plant on Dodds Road near Woodward Reservoir.

The $1,125,000 contract with NuLife Power addresses 750 kilowatts of electricity.

New technology will allow the PG&E cost avoidance for the overall treatment plant to go from roughly $750,000 to $1 million a  year.

The cost of electricity needed to treat water is collapsed into the price the three cities pay for their domestic water supplies.

Based on how the water is currently allocated, about 40 percent of the electricity savings directly impacts the City of Manteca.

That means ratepayers are avoiding paying for $300,000 worth of electricity a year needed to treat water.

And after the repowering which is targeted to be done by June 30 is completed, the PG&E cost avoidance number that benefits Manteca ratepayers goes up to $400,000.

Currently, the solar farm meets about 60 percent of the treatment plant’s energy demand.

It will go up to 75 percent when the project is completed.

A future phase is being contemplated that could for all practical purposes avoid paying PG& for electricity

SSJID for the past 20 years has been working toward the goal of providing retail electricity to Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon at 15 percent below PG&E rates.

The are two hurdles yet to forge.

The first to a “right to take” trail scheduled before a judge in 2025.

If the judge agrees SSJID meets the state’s constitutional parameters for irrigation districts to use eminent domain for the public good, the last hurdle will then by a court proceeding to establish the price for acquiring the local retail system

Once the district clears the right to take hurdle, the SSJID can start hiring to ramp up its retail power service.

Public agencies running retail electricity as a non-profit endeavor in Northern California have a strong and lengthy track record of reliability as well as selling electricity for significantly less than PG&E.

To underscore that point, data gleaned by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District as of Jan. 1 before PG&E’s massive $33 per month average residential rate hike went into effect shows that in terms of electricity charges:

*SMUD is 61 percent lower than PG&E.

*City of Roseville is 65 percent less than PG&E.

*Modesto Irrigation District is 53 percent lower than PG&E.

*Turlock Irrigation District is 64 percent lower than PG&E.

SSJID initially will have a minimum savings of 15 percent over PG&E.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email