South San Joaquin Irrigation District is appealing a decision to dismiss the agency’s eminent domain proceedings against PG&E.
San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Carter granted PG&E’s motion earlier this month without explanation.
The decision by the SSJID board means there are three appeals now in play that have to be resolved before the SSJID’s retail electric project can move forward to lower rates across the board by 15 percent in Manteca, Ripon, Escalon, and surrounding farm areas.
uPG&E has an appeal pending in the Third District court contending SSJID’s board lacked the authority to adopt a resolution of necessity required to start eminent domain proceedings.
uSSJID is also appealing a Superior Court decision that ruled it is unconstitutional for the SSJID as a public agency to make payments in lieu of property taxes to the cities of Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon.
SSJID General Manager Peter Rietkerk noted that given recent judgments by the court the decision was not unexpected.
“We suspect that Judge Holly’s dismissal may be tied to a recent October 2017 ruling in the PG&E v. LAFCO (San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission) case finding that payments from SSJID to replace PG&E payments to the County and local cities were considered unconstitutional and a gift of public funds,” Rietkerk said. SSJID appealed the payments ruling shortly after it was decided however and it is now pending before the Court of Appeals.”
“Knowing that San Joaquin County and our local cities received payments from PG&E, through the LAFCO process, SSJID committed to provide equal payments to the County and local cities to assure that local governments were kept whole,” Rietkerk added. “The payments are a show of good will by SSJID to preserve and magnify the economic benefits of the project for all of our prospective customers within the region, including our local cities and County. Even with these payments and a commitment to 15-percent lower electric rates than PG&E, SSJID finds it economically feasible to own and operate the local retail electric system.”
The latest appeal follows nearly three dozen rulings and legal filings following the San Joaquin LAFCO decision on Dec. 11, 2014 to approve SSJID entering into the retail electric business. That came almost five years after the SSJID board on Sept. 3, 2009 voted to formally file an application with the San Joaquin LAFCo to provide retail service as California law allows irrigation districts to do. The 2009 vote triggered a flurry of lawsuits and court filings that finally accumulated with the Dec. 11, 2014 decision.
All of that came after nearly a decade of vetting the economic feasibility and whether SSJID had the ability to run a retail system in addition to the wholesale system via the Tri-Dam Project that supplied PG&E with reliable power for more than half a century.
District officials believe it will take up to two additional years to clear up all of the legal issues.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com