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Roseville Electric may raise rates

Change would go into effect with July electric bill
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Action Taken

Here’s a look at some other items approved during the Dec. 19 council meeting:

Tree for town square: The city will use $300,000 from its Native and Non-Native Tree Mitigation Funds to purchase and plant trees for the new town square in downtown Roseville.

Retirement Health Savings Plan: The city will establish a RHS plan for newly hired employees to put a percentage of wages aside for retirement costs. This will eventually result in these employees funding their own retiree medical costs. The current agreement with the Roseville Firefighters Association provides that new employees make a contribution into a RHS account and staff is working to establish this type of plan with all bargaining groups.

Management and confidential employees: This group’s memorandum of understanding expires Dec. 31 and the new one-year term includes a major provision that employees pay their full portion of CalPERS retirement, resulting in a 2013 fiscal year savings of $236,925.

Eureka Road/I-80 interchange project: Multiple factors have resulted in additional tasks and an estimated increased cost of $223,323 on the improvement project. The original not-to-exceed amount was $641,800 with a 10 percent contingency. Project is funded with federal funds, Traffic Mitigation Funds and Gas Tax Funds.

Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant roof rehab: Roofs on six buildings at the treatment plant will be rehabilitated for an estimated $200,000.

Letter of intent with Colusa Bio Energy LLC: Colusa Bio Energy is developing a biomass renewable energy project and Roseville Electric’s non-binding letter conveys interest as biomass is a less-risky renewable energy than wind and solar, according to the utility.

Roseville Energy Park system upgrade: This is a one-time upgrade to the system used to monitor and control plant operations such as performance and controlling valves, pumps, motors and other equipment for a cost not to exceed $380,000.

                ~ Sena Christian

Roseville Electric customers may see a change beginning with their July bills — higher rates.

The public utility provider is reviewing its rate structure with the help of consultant Utility Financial Solutions, hired in November to determine if an increase is warranted.

Utility Director Michelle Bertolino has been warning the Roseville City Council for months that a possible increase sits in the pipeline, in part because of costs associated with new renewable energy requirements and other regulatory changes. She presented to the council again on Dec. 19.

Roseville Electric’s last rate analysis in 2009 resulted in three rate increases of 6.2 percent each over 13 months.

One of the main factors for a possible increase is the California Legislature’s passage of the Renewable Standard Portfolio in 2011, which requires utilities to obtain 33 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2020. Utilities must average 20 percent by December 2013.

Other factors include ongoing power plant operation and maintenance costs, staffing levels, capital investments and an expected low “load growth” — and less revenue — for the next three years as the number of residential and commercial customers will likely only modestly increase. Customers are also becoming more energy efficient.

“We’ve asked the consultant to think outside the box a little bit and look at some innovative rate structures to try and get ahead of the game here in California, instead of trying to chase regulations, but to actually try and get in front of a few things and stabilize the finances of this utility,” sad Philip McAvoy, rates and customer information manager for Roseville Electric, during Wednesday’s meeting.

The consultant will look at updating bill line items to better explain to customers why certain costs exist. The group will also consider the impacts of re-instituting seasonal — summer and winter — rates, among other measures. The utility expects to get the consultant’s results in January.

“I’m really glad to see this evaluation is occurring,” said Vice Mayor Carol Garcia. “I think it’s important in owning our own electric utility that we are constantly taking a look at better ways (to) do things that will benefit our businesses and our residents.”

Garcia said she hopes the utility will revise their bill line items in “laymen’s terms so people can understand what they’re reading.”

Roseville Electric will hold public outreach meetings in early 2013. A rate change must also be presented to the Public Utilities Commission and approved by the City Council.