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PG&E fight adds $2M to SSJID budget
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PG&E legal maneuvering now underway since South San Joaquin Irrigation District received the green light to enter the retail power business is expected to add over $2 million to the district’s expenses in 2016.
It is part of the overall $29.9 million proposed budget the SSJID board is reviewing when they meet today at 9 a.m. at the district headquarters, 11011 East Highway 120.
The expense is the result of PG&E making legal challenges after the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission cleared the way for SSJID to enter the retail power business to reduce electrical costs across the board by 15 percent in Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon. The challenges were expected.
The additional cost essentially is being absorbed by the same revenue source that is the linchpin to the lower retail cost plan — SSJID’s share of Tri-Dam Project proceeds pegged at a conservative $6.3 million in 2016. The SSJID has historically projected revenue form Tri-Dam on the low side even before the current severe drought in a bid to stay conservative in revenue projects.
As an example, in 2014 the district projected Tri-Dam receipts for 2015 at $4.3 million. They actually came in at $6.29 million for a 44 percent increase.
Tri-Dam revenue has allowed the district to keep the equivalent of 150 percent plus of their general fund operating budget in reserve. The Tri-Dam receipts have been used over the years for extensive capital improvement projects without raising the cost of water or taxes. The only rate increases over the last 25 years have been the result of state mandates tied to water conservation.
The power sales receipts — what the board likes to refer to as “the Tri-Dam benefit” — began piling up in 2005 when the authority operated jointly with Oakdale Irrigation District started “netting” was much as $18 million a year when the 50-year contract with PG&E ended. That deal that expired 10 years ago sold PG&E wholesale power at rates set in 1955 in return for assuring taxpayers in SSJID and OID wouldn’t get stuck with paying off the $52 million bonds.