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Our opinion: A lesson learned

May 09, 2001

It is no surprise the Imperial Irrigation District lost its bid to purchase interest in a gas well field. It was fairly obvious IID was going to bid conservatively since this was the district's first time venturing into the business of supplying its own natural gas.

Still, the IID board deserves credit for looking at new ways to keep down the cost of power.

We would have liked to have received more information on the bidding process, although we understand the district had to be careful with some details.

IID has gained much from the effort. First, the district has developed crucial knowledge should it decide it wants to bid on another natural gas well field. Second, the board has discovered there are more ways than first thought to address the district's natural gas needs.

The district depends on natural gas to run its power plants, and those plants will be running at full steam as temperature crosses the 100-degree mark and people switch on their air conditioners. The goal is to find low-cost natural gas as the spot market is facing high prices that can lead to higher power bills.

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We believe district officials when they say they are trying to do everything they can to provide the lowest-possible power bills to the people of the Imperial and Coachella valleys. That was why the district was looking into the natural gas well field.

The district is facing some difficult decisions. The contract IID has to receive natural gas ends in September. At that point the district might find itself looking to purchase power on the spot market and that may mean increased costs.

This is an issue about which the people of the Imperial Valley must be concerned. We are lucky that we have one of the lowest power rates in the state. That is a credit to IID.

We wish the board and IID staffers luck in continuing to meet our power needs at costs we can afford.

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