Wednesday, November 26, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Council pulls back on public power

By
From page A1 | May 14, 2014 |

The City Council decided 4-1 to pull the plug on moving ahead with public power Tuesday night, rebuffing a staff recommendation to pay $85,000 to move further with an inquiry into establishing a public electric utility in Davis. A new council may take the issue up again this summer following the June 3 election.

Supporting council members said the move was motivated by discussions with local residents who believe the council’s previously spent $400,000 on studies and authorization of a further $600,000 — which could be spent only with each disbursement approved by the council — is a bad idea in a year when the city faces a $4.99 million deficit and is asking for a sales tax increase.

“In almost every conversation I have with people about the city, this issue of the (publicly owned utility) comes up,” said Councilman Lucas Frerichs.

“This is also the beauty of representative democracy,” City Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson said later. “…We have to be flexible.”

The benefits to creating a public utility are still fresh in the minds of all five council members Tuesday night, including a potential 20 percent savings for residents on their power bills and the city’s power bill — something that could save tens or hundreds of millions of dollars depending on how it’s calculated. Other benefits include local control over energy sources.

But city staff told the council they expect a fight with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The investor-owned utility has repeatedly said its facilities are not for sale, and although that is no absolute impediment to the city being able to condemn PG&E facilities and buy them, it indicates a court and/or regulatory fight.

City utilities general manager Herb Niederberger said the process of setting up the utility could take three to five years and an estimated $1 million in legal expenses.

Interim City Manager Gene Rogers was able to establish a public utility for part of the city of Moreno Valley in Southern California when he was the city manager there.

While it was a wholly different circumstance and process, Rogers said Moreno Valley had to contend with an unfriendly ballot measure put up by Southern California Edison, an investor-owned utility there.

“It’s certainly a worthwhile endeavor when it’s completed,” he said of public power.

City Councilman Brett Lee introduced the motion to pull back on spending money on the public power inquiry.

He expressed frustration with community members who are asking the city to start a publicly owned utility, but are not stepping up to volunteer their services when the city is cash-strapped.

Lee also said the $600,000 enterprise fund cap is not “magic money” and it must be paid back to the wastewater fund from which it was borrowed.

The already-spent $400,000 also was borrowed from the city’s water and wastewater funds.

He said he supports the idea of a publicly owned utility, but he needs examples of cities like Davis who have gone through the process with investor-owned utilities, preferably with PG&E.

The city has tried unsuccessfully to get representatives from Winter Park, Florida, to explain their recent transition from investor-owned utility to publicly owned utility.

“The question before us is how do we move from investor-owned to publicly owned?” Lee asked, adding that the city could have an intern call up publicly owned utilities and get their experiences.

“Help us to the point we can get basic information,” he said.

Niederberger disagreed.

“This is not intern work,” he said, adding that the city needs a report that is worth the paper it’s printed on.

But Lee found four votes on the council that sided with his eventual motion to table the issue until the new council convenes after the election — two seats on the council are up for grabs — not spend any money now and rescind the $600,000 authorization to borrow from the wastewater fund.

 

Mayor Joe Krovoza was the lone dissenting vote.

Plus, Lee’s motion called for him to round up volunteers to find out the information he wants about recently created public utilities, with an emphasis on California utilities.

— Reach Dave Ryan at dryan@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Time to give thanks for nature’s beauty

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Food fight … in a good way

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Fremont Weir parking lot remains closed

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1

     
    Occupy movement settles in at UC Davis

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Guard reinforcements contain damage in Ferguson

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Weather affecting Thanksgiving travelers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Second cat-hoarding suspect arrested

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Happy Thanksgiving from The Enterprise

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Year-end films to see, or not, on KDRT

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    LCI marks 50 years with special service

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Senior Center hosts holiday sing-along

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sutter sponsors qigong for holiday de-stress

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Learn to use Skype at Connections Café

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Girls who volunteer may apply for grant

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Round up at the registers for Davis schools

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis Community Gift Project brightens holidays for children

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Speaker proposes changes in humanities doctorate

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Boy Scouts start Christmas tree sales on Friday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Volunteers needed to grow plants for habitat restoration

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Rainbow City community meeting set Dec. 1

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Forum

    She wants more from him

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Planting love at new home

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Innovation parks comparison

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Musings in the wake of Ferguson decision

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Rich Rifkin: Is it time to be a bear or a bull?

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Let’s not lose another good DHS coach

    By Chris Saur | From Page: B1

     
    Blue Devils prepare for a new season on the mat

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    No excuses, but there’s hope for UCD after 2-9 season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Joseph, Manzanares lead 10 All-Big Sky Aggie picks

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS wrestling is not just for boys

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Little League offers early sign-up discounts

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    Kings get past Pelicans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    .

    Features

    Salute to non-steamed broccoli

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    It really is ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Elzyne Thompson

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Death notice: Buddy Ralph Mills

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Ready, Set, Shop!

    Shop locally: You can have your pie and eat it too

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS1

    Santa’s little helper: secrets to happy holiday shopping

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: RSS2

    Make sure it gets there: deadlines for shopping and shipping

    By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS2

    Downtown lights up at holiday open house

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS3

    Full of warm wishes and over-sharing, the holiday card lives on

    By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS4

    Shop smart: Protect your wallet and your identity this shopping season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5

    Woodland celebrates the holidays downtown

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5