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SSJID power moves on hold until Feb. 13
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PG&E has two more shots using government agencies to derail South San Joaquin Irrigation District from entering the retail power business in Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon.

One is a reconsideration PG&E has requested for the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) to overturn their decision in December to allow SSJID to provide retail electrical service. It will be on the Thursday, Feb. 12 LAFCo agenda.

The other is a protest hearing of landowners and registered voters who may not favor the December decision. That hearing will take place Tuesday, March 3. To succeed in blocking SSJID, 25 percent of the landowners within the district would have to file protests.

The odds of the protest hearing derailing SSJID’s efforts are a long shot.

The dicier one is the reconsideration request.

PG&E is making several specific requests.

They want the LAFCo to:

ureconsider the finding that SSJID can determine whether they have sufficient funds to enter the retail electric business and instead have LAFCo make that determination based on PG&E’s reading of statutes.

umake a decision regarding the border area in Stanislaus County that would isolate a small number of PG^E customers from PG&E should SSJID enter the retail business.

urequire an independent peer review of SSJID’s financial analysis.

If the commission disagrees with all of PG&E requests, they will not adopt a new resolution if they agree with all or one of the requests LAFCo will adopt a resolution suspending the December decision.

SSJID General Manager Jeff Shields said the district will not make any public moves regarding electrical service until PG&E exhausts its statutory options at LAFCo.

If the December decision stands, SSJID would them resubmit a formal offer to purchase the PG&E system in Manteca Ripon, and Escalon. Depending upon how POG&E responds there may be negotiations or litigation.

During the LAFCo process the debate over the price for the system has ranged from a book value of $48 million based on a 2009 study to claims at some points by PG&E spokespeople during the past four years that it was worth as much as $450 million.

Shields expects the price to be higher than the 2009 study mainly because PG&E has been making upgrades to the system serving the three communities.

The bottom line of the municipal service review finding approved by the LAFCo board is that the SSJID plan would not cause an increase in retail electrical customer rates within the SSJID service areas. As proposed, SSJID’s plan would reduce customer rates 15 percent compared to PG&E rates. It also noted projected growth in district reserves should allow SSJID to further lower rates and/or fees for service. If for some reason future conditions do not allow the district to maintain rates 15 percent below PG&E, the MSR concludes the “SSJID could raise rates to offer a lower discount or to match PG&E rates without adversely affecting rates that otherwise would have been paid to PG&E. However, based on financial analysis prepared by Mintner Harnish and MBMC, SSJID’s plan” will be able to deliver the 15 percent discount.