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SSJID ready to commit
Resolution makes it clear Tri-Dam will make 15% cheaper power possible
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Now that independent numbers show it is do-able, the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission wants a written commitment that South San Joaquin Irrigation District will commit its resources to make 15 percent power rates lower for everyone in Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon.

The SSJID is expected to do just that when they meet Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the district office, 11011 East Highway 120.

PA Consulting - an independent firm retained by LAFCO that was recommended by PG&E has determined SSJID can indeed lower rates by 15 percent across the board by taking over the PG&E system if they spend $39 million upfront and then inject an average of $15 million annually into the retail system while bonds are behind paid that will finance the overall purchase.

PA Consulting also said SSJID can expect to clear $18.3 million a year from its share of Tri-Dam revenue.

While SSJID believes they can accomplish the 15 percent savings with just a $10 million upfront investment, the resolution the board may adopt on Tuesday that if PA Consulting is correct states they have no issue with spending $39 million upfront.

The district currently has compiled a reserve of more than $70 million from Tri-Dam receipts with that amount expected to hit $90 million within a year.

At the same time, committing $15 million a year while the bonds are being paid off will still leave the district ample money to pursue one of the state’s most aggressive water conservation programs by switching flood and sprinkler irrigation systems with drip technology as well as finance other capital projects within its irrigation division. And they will be able to do that without the need to raise property taxes. It has been more than 20 year since the district has raised either property taxes or water rates.

The vote to determine whether SSJID can go ahead and enter the retail power business is expected to take place this summer before the LAFCO board.

It is the latest step in the promise that the SSJID board had made that everyone within district boundaries and not just irrigation customers will share in the Tri-Dam benefits. By doing so, a typical family within the district could save $349 a year.

That is on top of SSJID commitments to cities to go beyond what PG&E is paying in franchise fees to not only keep them whole but to send more money their way.

Currently PG&E provides Manteca with a 2 percent franchise fee on its total electrical sales within the city limits that accounted for $495,000 in general fund receipts for the city in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009. The SSJID is committing to give the city a 2.5 percent franchise fee. If SSJID and not PG&E was the retail provider in Manteca last fiscal year, it would have meant $99,000 more for the city’s distressed general fund or a total of $594,000. That is roughly the salary and benefits of a public safety employee for one year.

The city also would benefit from the 15 percent reduction in electrical bills. With electrical costs to run the city pushing $2 million a year, that would mean a $300,000 annual savings. The bottom line is the City of Manteca would be $399,000 better off financially every year with SSJID as compared to PG&E.

Similar savings would be experienced by Manteca Unified School District, the City of Ripon, and City of Escalon, Ripon Unified School District, and Escalon Unified School District.

Even the SSJID would be money ahead. By supplying its own power to run the various district irrigation pumps, the district would reduce their electrical bill by $40,000 a year.

Overall, electrical users within the district’s boundaries would save $11.6 million in the initial year alone.