Our Opinion: Fight for independence

January 13, 2001

The Imperial Irrigation District could soon find itself in yet another fight, this time over power.

Statements by Gov. Gray Davis recently have led us to think he may soon look to the public utilities to help solve the state's energy crisis. In his "State of the State" speech he called the deregulation of the power industry a failure.

We agree.

He also said he is considering pushing for a joint powers authority that would include the public utilities. That is dangerous for the Imperial Valley.

The Valley is isolated from the rest of the state and while that can be negative on many issues, it is positive when it comes to power. As a public utility, IID provides energy to the Imperial Valley and portions of the Coachella Valley. It has the power to control rates and assure its customers have necessary power.


IID has done a good job of assuring our power needs are met. While the majority of the state is struggling through power shortages and high rates, IID has controlled costs and maintained power supplies. Should IID lose its independence it is hard to say what the future would hold.

Independence, it appears, is exactly what Davis is talking about taking away. Davis is right that immediate steps must be taken regarding the state's power problems. That doesn't mean he should look to the public utilities to solve the problem.

If the IID were to lose its authority, we fear the Imperial Valley would find itself subject to the same power rates as San Diego and elsewhere in the state. There would be a question as to what role IID could play in attracting new businesses and how far we would have to drive or fly to have our power concerns addressed.

We urge IID officials to attend all necessary meetings to make sure they are aware of power decisions at the state level. By 2002 IID has to make a decision on whether to deregulate. We wonder if Davis has plans to take that decision out of the hands of IID.

On so many issues we seem to be treated as a stepchild of the state. We think much too often legislators forget just how important the Imperial Valley is to the state and the nation.

This is one case where we would hope the state will just forget us. If the state looks to us to solve its problems, we would suffer. It may seem like we pay a lot for power, but imagine what we could be paying without local control.

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