MANTECA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) Board voted unanimously today to approve filing an application with the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) to provide retail electricity in SSJID’s service territory. SSJID will submit the application immediately.
“The board heard from many supporters today, which was encouraging. We also heard from a few PG&E representatives who oppose our plan,” said Dave Kamper, SSJID board president, after the hearing. “We understand the importance of making sure that the people we will serve with electricity have all the facts, without the fear tactics and misinformation that PG&E representatives will put out there.
“After careful consideration of the public’s comments and a thorough review of SSJID’s application, the Board believes now more than ever that the District owes it to our communities and our constituents to reinforce our commitment to bringing them all the benefits of public power. The $11.6 million that we can put back into the economy and the ratepayers pockets in the first year of operations alone hit home for all of us. The people have spoken and they need economic relief.”
Retired Ripon Unified School District Superintendent Leo Zuber, a resident of Ripon, specifically addressed the SSJID board about some of PG&E’s negative comments. “For 100 years, five people have made the decisions that have gotten us here today. (As far as PG&E saying we need a public vote—) we don’t need to have a vote on whether or not this should happen. We have a vote every three years on some of you. If we don’t like what you do, the direction you’re headed, then that’s when we take care of it. At that time, even PG&E can get involved…and the times that they have, they’ve lost,” Zuber said.
“There’s nothing wrong with the money you’ve spent so far. There’s nothing wrong with the money you’re going to spend. Because if this works out, we’re all going to get that money back,” Zuber concluded.
The application to LAFCo outlines how SSJID will provide locally-owned and controlled retail electricity service to both residents and businesses at a 15% discount from current PG&E rates, which includes agricultural and industrial customers, in the South San Joaquin County communities of Manteca, Escalon, Ripon and surrounding unincorporated areas. SSJID’s plan also provides for increased system reliability and local control, all hallmarks of successful public power agencies.
“With the board’s approval of the application, we’re one step closer to bringing much-needed electricity rate relief to the nearly 40,000 customers in South San Joaquin County,” said Jeff Shields, SSJID’s general manager.
Sometime after SSJID submits its retail electric application to LAFCo, a date will be set for a future hearing at which the commissioners will decide whether SSJID can move forward in exercising its legal authority to provide electricity to homes and businesses. Several procedural steps will be followed in the meantime and further studies and reports may be initiated by LAFCo to assist with making their decision. SSJID’s application documents are available for review at www.ssjid.com, or can be obtained at SSJID’s Main Office, 11011 E. Highway 120 in Manteca.
Since 1909, SSJID has reliably provided irrigation water in the South San Joaquin County region. It also operates the Nick C. DeGroot Water Treatment Plant, which provides the cities of Manteca, Tracy, Lathrop and Escalon with treated drinking water. In addition, SSJID has a solid history of providing low-cost, reliable wholesale hydropower since the 1950’s.
In 1909, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District was established to provide a reliable and economical source of irrigation water for approximately 72,000 acres of agriculture in, and surrounding, Escalon, Ripon and Manteca. SSJID’s historic water rights allow for several hydroelectric power plants on a series of dams and reservoirs on the Stanislaus River. SSJID and Oakdale Irrigation District completed the original Melones Reservoir in 1926, and have co-owned the Tri-Dam Project, consisting of Donnells, Beardsley and Tulloch reservoirs and powerhouses, since 1957. In 2005, as unprecedented urban growth replaced agricultural land, the district expanded into providing domestic water service to South San Joaquin County cities with its state-of-the-art membrane filtration water treatment plant. SSJID recently completed a 1.4 megawatt solar farm that provides nearly all the electricity to run its water treatment plant, 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. For several years, the district has been moving towards providing retail electric service as well, aiming to cut electricity bills of those in its service territory by 15% across the board.