By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
SSJID Plan Buoyed By Commission
Placeholder Image
Getting some support in its bid to take over electrical service, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has unanimously approved a resolution finding that the proposed South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) plan to purchase PG&E's electric facilities in Manteca, Ripon, Escalon and surrounding farm land will not significantly impact the remaining PG&E electric ratepayers.

The resolution is part of the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) review process required to be complete before LAFCo can move on with its analysis of SSJID's retail electric plan.

South San Joaquin officials also appeared before the Escalon City Council on Monday night, Dec. 21 to outline the proposed takeover, seeking support, but the council opted to only hear the presentation and did not take a vote on whether or not to back SSJID in the bid.

Ripon and Manteca have already indicated their support for the plan and the CPUC resolution also adds some fuel to the SSJID fire.

"This resolution determines that SSJID's proposed service could raise rates for PG&E's remaining ratepayers but the magnitude of the estimated increase is small relative to PG&E's current system average rates, and thus does not substantially impair PG&E's ability to provide adequate service at reasonable rates," reads the CPUC resolution summary. The resolution states that possible higher rates of $0.00032 per kilowatt-hour could result, and that the estimated costs and/or offsetting benefits that would affect remaining PG&E customers varies greatly depending on the assumptions used in the analysis.

The CPUC used the worst possible case for the purchase price in their analysis, assuming that SSJID would only pay $41 million and even with that low price, the Commission found the effect on rates was insignificant.

According to the CPUC resolution, "It is reasonable to use the highest quantifiable estimate, based on the facts before the CPUC, when determining whether there is the possibility that the proposed service will substantially impair PG&E's ability to provide adequate service at reasonable rates within the remainder of its service territory."

In testimony presented at the CPUC hearing, SSJID General Manager Jeff Shields pointed out that the District's contract appraiser, R.W. Beck, has set the Fair Market Value at $61 million and the District has made a good faith offer to pay PG&E $79.5 million.

"If the CPUC utilized either of these higher purchase values, PG&E's remaining customers could actually see a slight reduction in their rates," Shields noted.

In an unrelated action, the CPUC authorized PG&E to raise the rates for its Tier 1 and 2 residential class customers by three percent or $.004545 starting Jan. 1, 2010. PG&E had requested a five percent increase for its customers who have the lowest monthly usage.

SSJID recently completed a 1.4 megawatt solar farm that provides nearly all the electricity to run its water treatment plant on Dodds Road, saving the district over $400,000 annually in power costs. The solar farm is thought to be the world's first single-axis solar tracking system featuring thin-film photovoltaic cells. The district has been moving towards providing retail electric service for the past few years as well, aiming to cut electricity bills of those in its service territory by 15 percent across the board.