While base rates will remain the same in 2012, gradual increases will be reflected in a new “environmental charge” that will appear as a line item on customer bills. Average TID electric customers, consuming 787 kilowatt-hours of energy per month, can expect to see their monthly bills rise by about $3 starting next year, followed by a followed by $5 increases in both 2013 and 2014.
TID officials have said they must charge more to compensate for growing costs related to state requirements for greenhouse gas emissions and green energy.
State laws mandate that a percentage of each utility’s power supplies come from green energy sources starting next year. The required amount will start at 20 percent in 2013 and jump to 33 percent by 2020.
TID is breaking up the costs of meeting that mandate over three years by taking money from a $50 million rate stabilization fund to pay for the cost increases up front and then having customers repay that amount over time.
The most recent TID general rate increase occurred in 2009, which was a 15 percent average for all customers, compared to a 4 percent increase this time around.
The board’s adoption of the rate increase follows on the heels of several public forums, including an Aug. 4 forum at Patterson City Hall, where about 20 people learned about the district’s plans and offered suggestions on how to raise rates to keep up with state mandates. The district also hosted a rate hearing Nov. 22 at its Turlock headquarters.
The rate hike comes after TID purchased the Tuolumne Wind Project, a wind farm in Washington state, which went online in May 2009. That group of windmills will allow the district to produce 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
The cost of the wind farm project is $45 million a year. Greenhouse gas emissions created while producing power from other sources, such as plants that burn natural gas, will force the district to pay another $10 million to $12 million in fees, district officials have said.