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Rising cost of energy leads to IID power bill hike

January 25, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The Imperial Irrigation District board has taken the formal step that will lead to higher power bills starting in February but officials say the move will prevent major bill hikes during the summer.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday the directors approved a budget amendment that will increase the energy cost adjustment portion of power bills, a move IID officials say is necessary to meet the rising cost of producing energy.

The board has the authority to increase the energy cost adjustment based on costs of producing energy.

The problem is the price of natural gas, the fuel for IID's power plants, has seen violent fluctuations, and officials have been worried the cost could continue to rise. Officials say they have no choice but to pass any costs of producing energy on to customers.

IID officials have locked in the cost of natural gas at $7.90 per million BTU. While that is three times what IID was paying for natural gas last summer, officials were concerned if they did not lock in such a price, the cost of natural gas could rise above the $7.90 mark.


IID officials pointed out at this time the district is not using its own power plants. During the winter the district can meet local power needs through contracts to receive energy from plants in areas such as Arizona.

Still, IID will have to turn on its power plants to meet needs during the summer months.

Officials said if they wait until the summer to increase the energy cost adjustment, increases in bills would be severe.

For that reason they have approved the increase starting in February.

IID staffers have calculated the bill increases people can expect during summer power use.

For a household using 1,000 kilowatts of power per month during the summer, the monthly power bill would be $99.60, up from what they would have paid last summer at $92.30.

For a household that uses 2,000 kilowatts of power per month, the cost would be $195.60, up from last summer's monthly bill of $181.

IID power department Manager John Steffen has said most households during the summer use at least 2,000 kilowatts.

During the winter power use in an average household is much lower.

IID Director Stella Mendoza said the board may not technically be passing a rate increase, but people will see their bills go up.

She said IID has to make people aware the increase is coming.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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