The staff of the Turlock Irrigation District has proposed electricity rate increases averaging 5 percent.
The district board on Tuesday will consider setting a Dec. 2 public hearing on the proposal, which could be followed by a vote.
The average residential bill now is about $125 a month, although power use is much greater in summer than winter. The proposal would raise it to about $131.
The staff said the extra money is needed to cover about $16.7 million in increased costs related to generating and delivering electricity.
Much of this involves the federal relicensing of Don Pedro Reservoir on the Tuolumne River, which requires extensive study on downstream fish and other concerns and upgrades to the hydroelectric plant, spokesman Calvin Curtin said. The original license, granted in 1966, expires in 2016.
TID also faces relicensing of the much smaller La Grange Reservoir, just downstream on Don Pedro, after a federal decision that the district is appealing.
Another driver is the state mandate to get at least 33 percent of the total power supply from renewable sources, Curtin said. TID is at 25 percent, thanks to wind turbines near the Columbia River. Large hydro plants such as Don Pedro do not count toward the total.
Curtin said the district also faces mandates for the overall system’s reliability under the Federal Power Act of 2005. It was enacted in the wake of a massive blackout on the East Coast.
Finally, Curtin said, the rate increase would help the district attract employees with the technological skills needed to run the system. He noted that the workforce has dropped from 480 in 2010 to 455 this year.
The last rate vote was in 2011, when the board approved increases of 4 percent each in early 2012, 2013 and 2014.
TID provides electricity to about 98,000 homes, businesses and other customers. Its service area stretches from south Modesto to north Merced County and from the La Grange area to the hills southwest of Patterson.
The district gets some of its power from Don Pedro, but it has been sharply reduced by the drought. It also draws on natural gas turbines in its service area, the wind project and other sources.
Also Tuesday, the board will consider spending $450,000 to $475,000 to stabilize three locations along the Don Pedro shoreline. Fluctuating water levels and wave action have eroded soil in these areas, a staff report said.
The plan is to place landscaping fabric, gravel and soil at the problem sites during the winter.