A new change to Turlock Irrigation District rules will benefit Blue Diamond Growers, while costing the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The change to TID's Electric Service Rule 2 will make it easier for new businesses to “totalize” their electricity charges. The practice allows companies with multiple electric meters to combine their meters under one account, allowing the customer to obtain cheaper bulk electricity rates.
Previously, TID required customers to show 12 months of average maximum electricity demand above 250 kilowatts before totalization was allowed. During that time, customers were required to pay the more-expensive non-totalized rates.
“It seems to me that would be to our advantage,” said TID Director Rob Santos.
The change in practice will see the district now take new customers at their word that they will use more than 250 kW, signing them up for totalization without the 12 month waiting period. Should a customer fail to meet their projected load for three consecutive months, TID would shift them back to a per-meter billing scheme.
The rule change comes following a Blue Diamond Growers request.
Blue Diamond will easily exceed the 250 kW load required for totalization at their new Turlock almond processing facility, due to open later this year. As such, Blue Diamond asked to be placed on the less-expensive totalized billing scheme without the one-year waiting period.
“I just hope this isn't politically driven by one company to change the rules to benefit themselves,” Santos said.
Though Blue Diamond will be the first to benefit from the rule change, the new standards will benefit all businesses in the TID service area going forward.
The change also creates equity between single-meter and multi-meter businesses, according to TID staff. Single-meter customers have long been able to inform TID of their planned electricity usage, receiving an appropriate rate structure before demonstrating hard usage statistics.
The rule change could be a boon to development in the Turlock Regional Industrial Park, formerly known as the Westside Specific Industrial Plan, which looks to attract major industrial users like Blue Diamond.
“It's not going to be just this customer,” said TID Director Charles Fernandes. “There's a lot of open land out there that needs to be developed.”
On Tuesday, the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors also:
• Approved a resolution reaffirming TID's commitment to dam safety.
• Held public hearings to finalize the inclusion of land into three different improvement districts.
Michael and Ida Dunn applied to add 4.72-acres to the Bourdil Ditch. The Souza family applied to add 101.54 acres into the Souza-Rocha Pump. JKL Orchards, Phillip M. Yori, the Westleyn family, and Edward and Carlene Amador applied to add 89.89 acres to the Kollmeyer Ditch.
All of the applications were unanimously approved.
• Heard weekly updates on electrical service, power generation, irrigation water availability, and the status of irrigation season.
• Hear a monthly report on activities of the Power Supply Administration.
• In closed session, discussed labor contracts with the Turlock Irrigation District Employees' Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The IBEW has been without a contract since December 2011; the labor dispute led to a 45 hour electricity outage for 49 TID customers in September 2012, when IBEW workers declined to fix the issue, then interfered with other work crews.
No action was reported from the negotiations.