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IID power workshops slated this week

February 12, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The Imperial Irrigation District has set two public workshops this week to discuss the rising cost to produce power and higher power bills that are the result.

The workshops also will address the water quantification settlement, which if approved would "create peace" between the district, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Coachella Valley Water Authority, according to officials.

The first meeting will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Stockmen's Club of Imperial Valley, 725 S. Marjorie Ave. in Brawley. The second meeting will be at 5 p.m. Thursday in Calexico City Hall, 698 Heber Ave.

While the meetings originally were organized to discuss water issues, the IID directors opted to also address the power issue to spread the message power bills are rising.

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The directors said people must be made aware bill hikes started this month and will continue through the summer.

IID this summer will pay nearly three times more for natural gas than it did last summer. Natural gas is used for the operation of the district's power plants.

IID will increase power bills through a portion of the bill known as the energy-cost adjustment.

According to IID officials, they can increase or decrease the energy-cost adjustment portion of bills based on the monthly cost of producing energy.

They said there are minor increases or decreases to the energy-cost adjustment each month.

However, IID customers can expect to pay 8 percent more on their power bills.

While IID is not now operating its own power plants — the district can meet local power needs during the winter through contracts to receive energy from out-of-state sources — IID officials said they need to start the bill increases now.

They said to wait until the summer when IID's plants are cranked up would mean much steeper bill hikes.

During the workshops in Brawley and Calexico, IID will provide information available to the public regarding how they can conserve energy and reduce power costs.

IID has a public benefits program in which the district offers rebates on having air conditioners serviced and purchasing energy-efficient refrigerators. The district also offers power bill reductions for those who qualify.

The public benefits program is funded through a monthly public benefits charge paid as part of power bills and mandated by the state.

IID must have public workshops as part of the process of finalizing the water-quantification settlement.

As part of the agreement IID would transfer 100,000 acre-feet per year to MWD and to Coachella. In turn, the two water agencies have agreed not to challenge IID's right to transfer water to San Diego.

However, more recently ID directors voiced concern about an element of the agreement thrown into question by the power crisis.

The state has used $200 million that had been set aside for the lining of the All-American Canal to buy power.

The canal lining would help IID conserve enough water to transfer to MWD and Coachella.

The IID directors have said without the canal lining the quantification settlement could be in jeopardy, along with all the other water agreements, including the San Diego water transfer and the plan to reduce California's dependence on the Colorado River to 4.4 million acre-feet per year.

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

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