Electricity customers of the Turlock Irrigation District will get a rate increase averaging 2 percent as of Jan. 1, following a 5-0 vote by its board Tuesday morning.
The average residential bill, now $125.33 per month, will rise to $127.42. Actual use is much greater in summer.
The increase is less than the 5 percent proposed in September, but customers could see small adjustments later in 2015 to reflect energy market conditions.
“To keep our rate increase at 2 percent in this environment is a success,” board member Michael Frantz said after the vote.
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The board held a hearing last week on the increase, which mainly dealt with concerns from solar installers about extra charges designed to have panel owners help cover TID’s fixed costs. The board agreed to revisit this issue early next year.
TID supplies electricity to about 98,000 customers in an area stretching from south Modesto to north Merced County and from the La Grange area to the hills southwest of Patterson.
The Jan. 1 increase is just 1.5 percent for residential customers east of the San Joaquin River, the majority of the total accounts. The West Side pays a little more to cover the cost of TID’s purchase of its system from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in 2003.
The district staff was looking to close a deficit between about $390 million in projected spending next year and $373 million in income under the current rates. This will happen in three ways:
▪ About $6 million of the needed $17 million will come from the 2 percent average increase as of Jan 1.
▪ Up to about $4 million will be through the twice-a-year adjustment based on market conditions, mainly the cost of natural gas. Under board policy, it can range from a credit of 0.5 cents per kilowatt-hour to a surcharge of 1 cent on power bills, which average 15.28 cents per kilowatt-hour. The adjustment is made in June and December.
▪ About $7 million will be drawn from TID’s rate stabilization fund, which stands at $69.2 million and is part of the district’s large reserves.
TID also has proposed a far larger increase – more than double – in farm water rates. Under state law, it could not go through if more than half of the affected customers file protests at or before a Jan. 13 hearing. That process does not apply to power rates.