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Electric rates may go up as Roseville complies with renewable energy mandate

State law requires 33 percent of utility’s portfolio be from renewable sources by 2020
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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At the risk of hefty fines and jail time, Roseville City Council agreed to comply with a California state law aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy, which may lead to higher electric rates for residents.

The specifics of the rules and regulations, however, remain to be determined.

The California Renewable Energy Resources Act requires electric utilities to have 33 percent of their electric resources from renewable sources by 2020. Currently, Roseville’s portfolio includes 17 percent renewable energy.

As required, the council unanimously adopted an enforcement plan during Wednesday’s meeting that says Roseville will comply with the law.

“We know what the end game is. We just aren’t clear on what all of the details are on how to get to the end of the game,” said Roseville Electric Director Michelle Bertolino. “That’s why we’re proposing the interim plan tonight, to comply with the law.”

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the law in April 2011. It goes into effect Dec. 10. Cities must adopt a plan to enforce a renewable portfolio program that outlines how the city will comply with the law by Jan. 1.

The law also mandates that interim compliance requirements be met from now until 2020.

Together, the California Renewable Energy Resources Act and A.B. 32 the Global Warming Solutions Act will cost Roseville Electric an estimated $120 million combined over a nine-year period, said Electric Resource Analyst James Takehara, in response to a question by Councilman John Allard.

Bertolino told the council that may result in an annual 5 percent to 10 percent electric rate increase for residents.

“The reason I’m asking is I want to make sure (people) understand that because of this rule that the state legislature approved, that we don’t even have regulations yet on how to implement but we’re going to implement anyways, is going to raise your rates 5 percent a year,” Allard said. “Whether it’s right or wrong is not what I’m questioning. It’s the cost.”

The California Energy Commission is in the initial stages of drafting the regulations to define and enforce the law, which the agency plans to publish in spring 2012. At that time, Roseville will revisit its plans for compliance.

Here’s a look at some other items approved during the Nov. 16 council meeting:

Downtown Specific Plan bridge project: City staff has developed a process to promote public participation in the designs of the three bridges that are part of the Downtown Specific Plan, and has established a selection committee to review preliminary design drawings.

The Library Bridge over Dry Creek was removed in June due to storm damage and will be replaced. The existing Ice House Bridge will be rotated and a third pedestrian bridge will be constructed. The bridges are scheduled for completion in 2014.

Janitorial services agreement renewal: The city will renew its contract for janitorial services with Pride Industries, which has provided these services within many public access facilities and all park restrooms since 2009. Cost is $395,000 for the 2012-13 fiscal year budget.

Public fleet diesel retrofit agreement: The city must retrofit 11 vehicles with new control technology to remain compliant with the California Air Resources Board requirement that all public agencies and utility vehicle owners reduce diesel particulate matter emissions from their vehicles. Cost is $152,508.

2011 CalHome Program application: The city will apply for $600,000 from the California Department of Housing and Community Development to continue funding the owner-occupied housing rehabilitation program. The CalHome Program allows applicants to apply for grants to support existing homeownership programs aimed at low and very low-income households.

Purchase of computers: The council approved purchase of Dell computers in the amount of $264,000 to replace aging equipment. The city maintains more than 1,300 computers.

California River Parkways Grant Program application: Roseville will apply for a grant of roughly $2.9 million of state Proposition 84 funds to complete a proposed restoration project located within Saugstad Park in Dry Creek, which is part of the Dry Creek Watershed that extends from Auburn to Roseville. Dry Creek is home to federally threatened and endangered species.

The project will add conservation and interpretation enhancements throughout the riparian corridor to allow trail users to engage with this section of the creek.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.