The City of Patterson is continuing its fight for representation on the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors, while TID officials say formally annexing Patterson would lead to skyrocketing costs, and reduced water for growers.
TID has served Patterson with electricity since 2003, when it purchased the Westside Electrical Service Area from Pacific Gas & Electric. But as Patterson has not been formally annexed into TID’s boundaries, residents do not vote on representatives to the TID Board of Directors.
The legal debate dates back to August 2011, when the City of Patterson filed a forced annexation request with the Stanislaus County Local Agency Formation Commission. That motion would have required TID to absorb the 225-square miles which make up the WESA.
“We think this is the only fair way to get representation,” said Dennis Beougher, Patterson attorney, at an October 2011 TID board meeting.
The district is not required to annex an area to provide it with electricity, according to TID counsel. TID lawyers also stated that LAFCO does not allow annexation only for electrical service, which would force the district to grant full irrigation water rights to Patterson.
Patterson legal counsel has said a different section of California law would allow TID to complete an electric-only annexation.
In October, the TID Board voted to recommend terminating the LAFCO annexation hearings. That move was followed by the City of Patterson filing a civil suit against both TID and LAFCO.
Earlier this year, Patterson filed an amended forced annexation request, which would have required TID to absorb 132 square miles – a 40 percent increase in the TID service area. The change came in response to Patterson Irrigation District concerns, TID staff said, as the annexation could have led to the end of the Patterson district.
But even the smaller expansion could cost the district “millions and millions, if not billions, of dollars,” according to Dave Hobbs, TID assistant general counsel.
“The same issues with actually reconfiguring the entire irrigation system from Don Pedro (Reservoir) down to the San Joaquin River, to get it across the San Joaquin River, still exist,” Hobbs said.
TID would be forced to supply about 4,300 acres with water immediately, causing a 2 percent reduction to existing customers. With access to TID’s water supply, staff project a further 77,000 acres would enter production, causing a further 20 percent reduction in available water for existing customers.
On Tuesday, the TID Board of Directors unanimously supported a resolution requesting termination of the revised LAFCO proceedings. The matter now awaits LAFCO action.
Neither the City of Patterson nor the Patterson Irrigation District returned calls for comment on this story. Additionally, neither had representatives present at Tuesday’s meeting.
PSA stays flat
The Turlock Irrigation District power supply adjustment charge, added to customers’ bills to reflect the changing costs of procuring energy, will remain flat for the next six months.
Customers will continue to receive a half-cent per kilowatt-hour credit from the PSA through at least December, when the PSA will be reviewed. The district forecasts the PSA will remain at its current level through at least June 2013.
The PSA was previously an additional 1 cent per kilowatt-hour charge. It was adjusted to reflect the current credit during TID’s January rate increase, when additional costs of providing “green” energy were removed from the PSA and incorporated into a new environmental charge.