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Voice: IID board panicked in pursuing gas well field, can find energy here

May 09, 2001

From a layman's viewpoint, it appears the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors panicked regarding the power division's ability to provide power when needed.

From the article in the Imperial Valley Press regarding the public response concerning the IID's purchase of an interest in a natural gas well to provide a source of energy for its generators outside the normal market, the public said no, but the IID ignored the public's voice anyway and made a bid that proved unsuccessful.

My feeling is with the current natural gas shortage, there is nothing on the market but the dregs of the gas fields. Anything of value has already been contracted by the major oil and gas companies. We were going after those fields that are uneconomical to develop. The IID admitted it had no infrastructure to bring the gas from Colorado to Imperial. This is an addition to all unknown costs that the rate-payers would have had to absorb.

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My feelings are that with the current board's expertise in the oil business, they should make long-term contracts for the power they anticipate needing for the next 10 years. No large amount of cash is needed or a bond issue for a long-term contract. This approach we can afford to take without the massive debt that I see facing the IID. Of course, if the IID goes far enough in debt, we may just have to sell our water rights to clear our obligations.

If the Board of Directors felt that we needed to secure an energy source, why not look locally? By that I mean buying an interest in a geothermal power supply or some of the wind generators in the Whitewater area, or invest in solar panel generation.

We have ample heat, wind and geothermal activity to supply our needs; and it's all either in Imperial County or nearby, with transmission lines already in place. A few years ago these sources weren't competitive with the natural gas and coal-generating plants, but times have changed and we should, too.

HARRY G. WHITMORE JR.

Brawley

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