On Tuesday, the Turlock Irrigation District Board approved, on a 3-0 vote, four amendments to the District’s approved 2015 budget, which includes a variety of rate increases for customers.
Set to take effect Jan. 1, 2015, the new budget includes a 2 percent increase for almost all 98,000 electricity customers with the goal of offsetting the District’s $17 million projected revenue shortfall.
Directors Joe Alamo and Michael Frantz disclosed potential conflicts of interest and therefore recused their votes claiming the potential of a personal financial impact. Director Rob Santos was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, so a quorum was not reached with the two remaining members, Directors Ron Macedo and Charles Fernandes. General Manager Casey Hashimoto had Alamo and Frantz choose numbers with the individual with closest choice allowed to vote.
Frantz chose the number closest to Hashimoto and therefore was permitted to discuss and vote on the item with Macedo and Fernandes in order to reach quorum; among the three, the item was unanimously approved.
For customers who have had their checks returned more than twice under Rule 9, in addition to the $25 fee per returned check, they will be required to pay their bill on a cash-only basis for a 12 month period.
Under Rule 15, there is a new line extension free footage that is reduced from a maximum of 5,000 feet down to 1,000 feet; per the new rule overhead extension payment refunds are eliminated. Of note, for line extensions outside of the District’s territory, there is no line extension free footage.
There is a provision for existing customers on the RNT and NNT rate schedules, which are closed to new customers, but will allow them to increase their generation in limited amounts under the change to Rule 22.
The closed RNT rate schedule applies to residential or small commercial customers who use a solar or wind turbine electrical generating facility, or a hybrid of both. The capacity cannot be more than one megawatt and must be located on the customer’s owned, leased, or rented premises, in parallel with TID’s electric grid with the intention of offsetting the electrical requirements of customers. Though the District does provide electricity to the customers often, TID must always be ready to supply any extra needed electrical that a customer requires.
The currently closed NNT schedule is similar in terms of the requirements by the District be ready to meet customer’s electrical needs at any given time. NNT applies to commercial, industrial, or agricultural customers, who use a Renewable Electrical Generating Facility with a capacity of one megawatt or less, located on the customer’s owned, leased, or rented premises, is interconnected and operates in parallel with the District’s electric grid with the intention of offsetting their electrical needs.
The now closed rate schedule was available on a first-come-first-serve basis to customers until the total rated generating capacity was was exceeded, in accordance with State law.
These customers will be allowed to aggregate their generation against their load at multiple meters on their property, or contiguous properties that they own, lease or rent.
The approved change sets conditions for aggregation and adds a charge of $1000 to customers wishing to aggregate to the Electric Service Schedule of Charges.
Self-generation is addressed in the newly added and approved Rule 23; because RNT and NNT rate schedules are closed, the rule sets new requirements for new customers wishing to add generation to operate parallel to the District’s distribution system.
A $600 charge will be added to the Electric Service Schedule of Charges for meter upgrading and inspection costs to run parallel with self-generation customers.
Director Fernandes raised concern during the meeting over the $600 charge, stating that originally customers in net metering plans, which are now closed, were not charged for meter upgrades per provisions under State law, and that with the new rule, new customers will be.
“We’ve been depicted as basically being anti-solar, and I just don’t want this to be another object along that way,” said Fernandes. “But at the same time…I’ve been the one [that has] called for total cost of service and even in our rate schedule we’re not quite there yet, and I understand that.”
Ed Jeffers, Electrical Engineering and Operations Department Manager, went into further detail and explained that the law did prohibit some charges previously for meter upgrades.
“This $600 charge is, in fact, a true cost?” asked Fernandes.
Jeffers stated that it was, explaining that to upgrade the residential meter to a net meter, there is a $460 charge and the remaining $140 is for inspection, installation and use of District vehicle. He also noted that the old meter is used to meter the generator.
The rate changes, as approved on Dec. 9 and amended Tuesday, will take effect Jan. 1, 2015.