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TID budget reflects tough economy
District in better condition than other utilities, says Weis
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On Tuesday the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors approved a $466.5 million budget for the 2010 fiscal year that includes no electric rate increases for ratepayers, despite declining revenues.
The 2010 budget differs sharply from the 2009 budget, in part due to a $18.1 million influx in revenue from wholesale wind power generated at the District’s new Klickitat County, Wash.-based 133.6 megawatt Tuolumne County Wind Project. The wind project will also save the TID in fuel costs, but associated expenses with the $200 million-plus wind farm actually net out to a $15.8 million cost in this fiscal year.
The district has also been hard hit this year by a forecasted $22.1 million decrease in wholesale energy sales, which TID Director Larry Weis said is better than many other utilities are seeing.
The sale of electricity produces the majority of the district’s revenues, with residential power and industrial power bringing in $103 million and $79 million, respectively. Weis said that industrial sales have also remained stronger than other utilities have seen, as most large local industrial users are ag-based and have been less effected by the down economy. Agricultural power sales generate about $23 million, or about 7 percent of the district’s overall revenue, while irrigation water accounts for just $8 million, or 2 percent of TID revenue.
In total, TID expects to bring in $334 million in 2010. The district will spend $466 million, with $145 million of that coming by way of financed capital projects.
Financed projects on TID’s agenda for 2010 include the proposed $100 million Almond Power Plant expansion, the $16.7 million Hughson/Grayson 115 kV line, and a $2 million pumped water storage project for increased hydroelectric power generation at Don Pedro.
“The more New Don Pedro energy we have, the more it drives the budget down,” said Weis, who explained that the electricity generated at Don Pedro is less expensive than energy from wind or gas turbines. TID purchases 23 percent of power annually for cost efficiency, though the district has the generating capacity to produce all that the district needs.
Power supply costs makes up 52 percent of the budget, or $235 million. Labor costs amount to nine percent of the budget, or $41 million, while benefits tack on another five percent, or $23 million.
Labor costs are up this year, due to a mandated 3.75 percent wage increase for union workers. Management was also budgeted for a 3.75 percent cost of living increase, but that may be readdressed as the true cost of living increase this year is not expected to hit 3.75 percent.
All department’s operations and maintenance budgets were fixed at a no more than 3 percent increase, but increased medical and pension costs — which TID self finances — drove expenses up by $4.6 million.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.