El Centro, California - On March 1, the IID Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose Assembly Bill 854 authored by Assembly Member Chad Mayes (R-42nd District) from the Yucca Valley.
Last year, IID faced a hostile ordinance aimed at bypassing the board’s ratemaking authority. IID challenged the ordinance in court and the court ruled in its favor, granting a preliminary injunction. The same for-profit special interests who sponsored that ordinance are now behind AB 854.
Enactment of AB 854 would create a bifurcated board of directors and lead to competing interests between the Imperial and Coachella Valleys. It also threatens longstanding water and energy service area rights the district holds in trust and is duty-bound to protect.
A 99-year compromise agreement reached in 1934 between IID, Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) and the federal government was integral in resolving legal disputes related to water and energy rights. This agreement has provided CVWD access to reliable Colorado River water supplies and helped secure IID’s rights to provide electrical service to residents in the Coachella Valley. As part of the compromise agreement, IID is required to pay CVWD a percentage of its annual energy revenues which have reached approximately $45 million to date.
IID BOARD TAKES IMMEDIATE NEXT STEPS
On March 12, during its meeting held in the city of La Quinta, the IID Board of Directors took immediate actions to help inform its decision making as it relates to the continued electrical services in the Coachella Valley.
The board instructed its general manager to retain outside legal counsel and other experts in the utility sector who can provide the district with a comprehensive analysis and recommendations for its options now and leading up to 2033 when the 99-year lease agreement with CVWD reaches its full term. The board also requested a complete evaluation of its energy infrastructure assets and energy contracts that serve IID’s Coachella Valley energy service area.
On March 15, the IID board president transmitted a letter to the bill’s author, other local legislators and the council members of all cities served by IID in the Coachella Valley, to inform them of the due diligence process initiated by the district.
IID’S HISTORY AND FORMATION
The California Wright Act of 1877 authorized the creation of special districts whose purposes are limited to providing specific services and serve certain areas not necessarily tied to any one city or county. Because of their narrow focus, special districts can sometimes operate in more efficient manner when compared to other entities. Today, there are 2,071 special districts in California, 92 of them are irrigation districts.
IID was established in 1911 and its legal boundaries are situated in Imperial County. IID’s powers and purposes, including those that allow it to also sell and distribute energy outside its legal boundaries, are set forth in state law. While IID is a non-profit entity, it is not a city or county government, it is a special district formed to provide specific services for which it collects fees in return.
Since its inception, the board has never wavered from its mission to provide reliable, efficient and affordably priced service to all the communities it serves. This was true when the district was founded in 1911 and it is true today.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For decades, IID has proudly served its customers in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys. Because of long-term agreements with CVWD and the federal government, IID provides access to reliable water supplies and some of the lowest power rates in California. When compared to other utilities, IID customers save up to 50 percent on their monthly power bills.
But now, AB 854 and the for-profit special interests behind it, want to break up the IID, your low-cost public power provider. The consequences would be far-reaching, impacting all ratepayers.
Take a strong stand against outside special interests and oppose AB 854.