Local News

New streetlights, water rate changes on city agenda

By From page A5 | May 25, 2014

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What: City Council meeting

Where: Community Chambers, 23 Russell Blvd.

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

On Tuesday the city will deal with the question of whether its new LED streetlights are too annoying.

Prior to the beginning of the installation of the city’s new LED streetlights, they had been a source of pride for City Council members, something much less controversial than sales taxes, water rates and that million dollars the city might have spent toward finding out about becoming a public electric utility.

Perhaps no more.

Complaints about the new streetlights being too bright have led the City Council to pack the subject into an already packed city council meeting containing water rates, plus e-cigarette rules, the last mention of the latter as an informational item a few months ago drew TV news vans and carefully coiffed TV news reporters from Sacramento reporting from City Hall.

According to staff report issued this week on the streetlight item, the city was not in the dark when it decided on the cobra-head LED streetlights it has been installing recently. A January 2014 staff report said the City Council approved an agreement with PG&E through a streetlight program to convert 300 streetlights using federal funds.

“The project was considered a pilot project to determine if the community would view the light changes favorably. If the feedback was favorable, the city would convert the remaining street and pathway lights as funds were made available. The lights were changed in the fall of 2010.”

According to this week’s staff report, the pilot project has been going on since 2011, continuously.

“During the nearly three-year pilot project, the city received one documented complaint,” it said.

That is, out of 2,660 retrofits or which 1,300 are on residential streets, according to the report.

Although it’s an informational item, the City Council is free to direct city staff in any way it sees fit.

Water rates update

The Utility Rate Advisory Committee has been starting to work steadily under its mandate on utility issues, one of which is about water-rate structures.

At its last meeting on May 8, the committee approved a motion to instruct its rate consultant to take a look at three water-rate structures and compare and contrast the group.

One was a traditional two-step rate, a Bartle-Wells three-tiered rate with 40 percent of the revenue recovered from fixed rates and 60 percent from variable rates. If you’re confused, residents have been a paying Bartle-Wells rate and will stop, barring passage of Measure P, in January, when the more complex three-step consumption-based rates start billing.

Two, the committee is looking at seasonal pricing of winter/summer rates where 40 percent of the total revenue is for fixed costs and 60 percent is billed for variable costs.

Three, the three-step consumption-based water rate with some modifications that could reduce the climb in average water rate costs from 2015 to 2018 by 8 percent.

The next meeting of the Utility Rate Advisory Committee is set for June 5.

— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or call 530-747-8057.

Dave Ryan

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