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IID: Conservation could reduce costs

March 02, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Imperial Irrigation District officials are continuing to preach the importance of energy conservation as summer inches closer.

People can expect to pay about $14 more per month for energy this summer based on an average use of about 2,000 kilowatts per month.

That cost increase is the result of the rising cost of natural gas, the fuel source for IID's power plants.

In a move to try to prevent severe power bill hikes, IID staff locked in the price the district will pay for natural gas at $7.90 per million BTU.

That is nearly three times what the district paid for natural gas last summer, but is much lower than the cost of natural gas on the open market. That cost has risen to as high as $52 per million BTU.


District officials have said the cost of natural gas has gone through violent fluctuations and by locking in a price they will avoid any major hikes in natural gas prices.

Still, because it locked in a price three times higher than IID paid last year, the district has moved to increase a portion of power bills known as the energy- cost adjustment.

The IID Board of Directors has the authority to increase or decrease that portion of the bill each month based on the cost of providing energy.

Typically, the energy-cost adjustment increases or decreases slightly. However, the cost of natural gas has caused the district to raise the ECA by about 8 percent and that is expected to remain fixed now through the remainder of the year.

District officials have said the one way to lower costs is if the district does not have to use all its power plants this summer.

Each summer the district turns on all its plants to meet the demand of its customers in the Imperial and Coachella valleys.

IID Director Stella Mendoza has urged the district to send the message that power bills are going up and people need to conserve energy to cut the demand and allow people to save money.

Sue Giller, an IID spokeswoman, said that conservation effort needs to involve everyone in the communities served by the district, from residential to business consumers.

The district has a public benefits program in which it has about $5 million to help people save on their energy bills.

Several public benefit programs have already started and others are being developed. One program calls for customers to receive a rebate on the cost of having air conditioners serviced.

In advertisements that have run in this newspaper and on large billboards around the Imperial Valley, IID has emphasized the program can save customers money in two ways. It reduces the cost of having air conditioners serviced and customers will save money on their power costs.

IID has another program in which it will provide rebates to customers who purchase Energy-Star rated refrigerators, and the district will remove the old refrigerators from households. For those customers who qualify the district will provide an Energy-Star refrigerator.

The district is working on a program in which it would provide more efficient light bulbs to businesses.

IID officials will take their message to the Imperial Valley Expo during the California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta. The district will have a booth at which staffers will talk to passersby about the importance of conserving energy and the programs the district has to help people conserve.

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

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