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Moving toward cheaper Ripon power
SSJID hoping to follow Lathrop Irrigation in undercutting PG&E
Lathrop Irrigation District is now up and running with River Islands Tech Academy its first customer. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Ripon PG&E customers will find out in the coming months if they will have cheaper power.

Lathrop Irrigation District - which was granted permission by the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission years ago to engage in retail power sales - finally started selling power last week.

That’s when River Islands Tech Academy became the first beneficiary of the South County movement to put power into the hands of the people.

Electricity started flowing last week through power lines to the River Islands Tech Academy that is gearing up for an August opening. The Banta School District is the first retail electrical customer of the Lathrop Irrigation District.

They are paying 5 percent below PG&E rates. And as homes and businesses are built, the rate differential between LID and PG&E will continue to widen until it reaches a cost for retail power that is 25 percent less than what the for-profit San Francisco-based utility charges.

“The first homes will have rates 5 percent lower (than PG&E’s),” noted River Islands Project Manager Susan Dell’Osso. “As we add homes and get more economies of scale, the rates will drop.”

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s game plan is for rates at least 15 percent below PG&E’s rates.

River Islands formed the LID to cover the 4,800-acre project that includes 11,000 homes. The LID - much like the SSJID that River Islands tapped for expert advice on setting up retail electricity services - is a public agency. It also has an elected board.

The SSJID is expected to receive a decision in the coming months from the San Joaquin LAFCO board on whether it can enter into the retail business by buying the PG&E system serving Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon. An independent consultant that LAFCO hired from a recommended list provided by PG&E verified that SSJID is capable of running a retail power system and also has the finances in place to reduce rates by at least 15 percent.

The SSJID proposal also covers all exit fees which means none of those charges will be passed on to existing PG&E customers. When existing PG&E customers switched to Modesto Irrigation for electricity several years ago, they were forced to pay exit fees that often exceeded $1,000 to take advantage of the lower priced electricity.