We realize the proposed budget talked about earlier this week by the Imperial Irrigation District board is just that, a draft. But we think it marks a dramatic departure for the district in way.
We were always perplexed by the seeming unwillingness to pull the trigger and commit to doing something significant with the overcollected moneys from the energy cost adjustment, or the fee that anticipates the cost of producing the district’s energy.
Now, though, there is a proposal to offset any needed rate hikes by using $35 million of the overcollected fees.
That is a smart move, we believe. And while it inevitably pushes off for another year the need to seriously revisit raising the base rate to address aging power infrastructure needs of the district, it isn’t simply burying the district’s head in the sand for another year.
This move takes money paid by the customers and puts it to use in a fair way. It doesn’t make sense to cut customers a check, but it does make sense to act as a credit for the 1-cent base rate increase proposed earlier this year by district financial officials.
We must take the opportunity, though, to reiterate that we do believe a base rate hike is on the horizon and is very necessary. The ECA overcollected is not a magic bullet, not when the district has millions of dollars of need to shore up its energy assets.
IID has had the pleasure of maintaining the same base rates for more than 20 years. But it can’t be the permanent reality when everything else that goes into providing that power, like fuel costs and the manner of delivery, all increases.
For today, this is a smart and fair choice. Tomorrow will be a different story.
THE ISSUE: IID’s proposed budget
WE SAY: The use of the ECA overcollection is a fair way to avoid a rate hike.
WHAT DO YOU SAY? Send us your thoughts on this topic to www.ivpressonline.com/letterstotheeditor