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Report: SSJID can indeed lower retail power costs
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South San Joaquin Irrigation District can deliver both retail power and irrigation water.

That’s the conclusion of a draft municipal services review (MSR) report released Tuesday by the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission staff.

The exhaustive document is one of several that the agency is producing to give the commission the information it needs to rule in early 2012 on whether SSJID is in a position to exercise its “latent power” under the state constitution to offer retail power service within its boundaries.

The 184-page document looked at the financial viability of the district, its ability to provide services, population and growth projections within the district boundaries and its accountability. The district passed muster in all areas.

The executive summary states, “SSJID’s budget shows that the district has the financial ability to acquire the retail distribution system and provide retail electric service at more affordable rates compared to existing rates charged by PG&E. It also shows that SSJID will have sufficient revenues to cover the anticipated expense of providing electric service, including: operations and maintenance, power purchase and debt service, and planned capital expenses. Even considering unknown future fluctuations in revenues and expenses, it is anticipated that SSJID would have sufficient revenue to continue providing its existing services (i.e., irrigation, water, and drainage) and retail electric service.”

At the same time the document addressed an alternative that PG&E representatives have repeatedly suggested SSJID pursue instead - community choice aggregation (CCA) for electric service. The LAFCo report noted that without changing state law, SSJID could not register as a CCA. It also would have to be implemented by San Joaquin County and the three cities within SSJID’s boundaries - Manteca, Ripon and Escalon.

The MSR’s executive summary stated “changing CCA rules would be a time-consuming, costly, and controversial process. SSJID could not offer the same economic benefit that customers would receive under SSJID’s plan to provide retail electric service.”

The SSJID plan calls for rates to be 15 percent lower than what PG&E currently charges across the board.