Modesto Irrigation District Meeting: The Changing of the Guard
By Emerson Drake
Newly elected MID Directors Larry Byrd and Nick Blom took their respective seats on the dais today. For the many who have never been to a MID meeting the dais is U shaped with the two end seats facing each other.
While they don’t have officially designated seating, in days gone by they actually sat by the number of the district they represent. But with the seating of the two new Board members, Glen Wild, Division 1, apparently felt the need to sit next to his mentor/advisor in all things MID, related Tom Van Groningen who has been sitting on the far right. Van Groningen, Division 3 used to be in the middle but when Paul Warda was elected Board President a year ago, Paul assumed the center seat.
Hey, Wait a Darn Minute. Is Our Electricity Costing More then Necessary?
The quiet yet controversial discussion revolving around MID’s unusual way of approaching their “green” portfolio is curious. Currently MID has renewable energy at 27% of our generating needs and that will increase to 29% when the McHenry solar acreage comes on line. By law we aren’t required to have even 20% until 2013 and 28% until 2016. While all of us appreciate the head start toward mandated goals, it means we as ratepayers are being required by MID to pay more for our electricity than actually necessary. To put MID’s energy costs in perspective, hydro electricity is .03 kwh. Gas turbine generation costs are .06-07kwh. The recently negotiated solar costs are .14-17kwh and escalating as time goes by depending on which numbers you quote
These surpluses do roll over but they only roll for 36 months. These credits are nice but MID didn’t offer information to show how much we actually benefit as these credits get “stale” and fall off, and are lost. With our excessive “head start” the extra money MID ratepayers are now paying will be wasted and lost.
I have to admit their story sounds nice until you sit back and think about it. Then “Hey wait a darn minute” comes out of your mouth.
The decision was made to sign a contract with Fayez Sarofim and Company to transfer about $33 million dollars from under G.E. guidance since it was felt that the investments G.E had been overseeing had been underperforming for the past two years.
A squabble over the Don Pedro Recreation Agency’s (DPRC) desire to raise overnight fees on weekends and to almost double the cost of going to the “Fireworks Day display” has been brewing for about four weeks. Former Board member Cecil Hensley had been against the rate increases and Larry Byrd is continuing his stand against raising the rates.
It first appeared it was going to be a 3-2 vote with Byrd and Blom against and Warda, Wild, and Van Groningen in favor. But at the last minute Van Groningen voted against the increase and requested staff member Bill Ketchner to approach the DPRC and attempt to talk with them again. This is interesting because Cecil Hensley, who Larry succeeded when Cecil retired, was a voting member and MID’s representative to the Dom Pedro Rec. Agency Board of Control and it was expected Larry would assume the role as MID’s torch bearer.
The two members of the public who spoke were against the rate increase. One speaker noted that other the members of the DPRC, who are Turlock Irrigation District (TID) and the City and County of San Francisco, don’t seem to have a problem with raising the rates on the weekend campers without exhausting cost cutting efforts first since weekends are usually booked close to capacity. And that San Francisco was known for their “Tax and Spend” approach to financial problems and hoped MID would stand against taking the easy way out.
In a final bit of business for the year, Tom Van Groningen was elected Board President for the next year and Van Groningen’s sycophant and rubberstamp, Glen Wild, will be the Vice President.