The final tally is about $453 million.
That's how much money Modesto Irrigation District leaders figure they'll need to keep all the lights burning and air conditioners humming in 2008, not to mention expanding the Modesto Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant.
And to whom will MID turn for all that money?
That would be you.
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Assuming, of course, you're among the utility's 110,000 residential and commercial accounts.
With approval of the district's operations, maintenance and capital improvement budget Tuesday -- the vote was 4-1 with Director Mike Serpa the lone dissenter -- the stage is set for next month's electric rate hearing.
After the meeting, Serpa said he refused to vote for the budget because MID staff did not provide enough background detail about the operations and maintenance portion of the budget.
While nothing is certain, it's a safe bet that the MID's power customers will pay more in 2008.
Though originally conceived as a conduit to provide farmers with irrigation water, irrigation today accounts for a mere 2 percent -- $8.7 million -- of the MID budget.
Nearly 85 percent, or $384.1 million of the district's budget is related to electric services.
The remainder -- $59.7 million -- is related to domestic drinking water.
District projected to end 2007 with $11M deficit
Latest staff projections show the MID will finish 2007 with a deficit upward of $11 million. The district will dip into its cash reserves to cover the anticipated shortfall.
That's why MID staff members had recom-mended a midyear rate hike. District directors, however, decided to wait until the end of the year before embarking upon that unpopular undertaking.
Well, the end is here.
Still unknown, however, is how much more MID customers will pay and how soon.
In June, MID staff predicted the utility would need to increase electric-ity rates by 7 percent in 2008 and 6.5 percent in 2009 to meet the board's prior-ity financial goals:
Establishment of a $200 million cash reserve by 2011
Maintaining the district's "A-plus" bond rating
Ensuring rates cover 100 percent of the utility's costs to acquire, generate and deliver power.
District staff members are expected to make rate increase recommendations Nov. 13. The MID board is not expected to vote on those recommendations until Nov. 27.
But staff's midyear rate projections didn't include new state mandates, which only will add to the MID's power-related expenses.
For example, a state mandate calling on California power companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (pollutants such as carbon dioxide) could add 30 percent or more to MID electric bills over the next decade.
That would mean a 3 percent -- or higher -- increase every year for the next 10 years.
Other mandates include:
Reducing its overall electricity load by 10 percent over 10 years
Curtailing the use of coal and other fossil fuels in favor of cleaner but more expensive renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
Acquiring, generating and/or delivering power will cost the MID a projected $221.7 million in 2008, or 49 percent of its budget estimate.
Capital expenditures, including expansion of the water treatment plant, account for an additional $101.9 million.
Under an agreement with Modesto, however, all of the expenses related to the water treatment plant are reimbursed by the city.
Daily operating and maintenance expenses are pegged at $79 million for 2008. An additional $50 million, meanwhile, is budgeted for debt service payments in the coming year.
Bee staff writer Michael G. Mooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2384.