Lodi Electric Utility tells council of its financial strength
The Lodi City Council was presented the Lodi Electric Utility’s thirdquarter budget review during Tuesday’s shirtsleeve session, highlighted by the utility’s strong financial footing heading into a new fiscal year.
“Our projected expenses will be about $6 million less than the budget (allotted) due to staff vacancies, changes in timing for our capital projects and reduced debt service,” Interim Director Melissa Price said.
The cash reserve balance for the utility is an estimated $42.8 million. The reserve is used to support the utility’s ongoing “pay as you go” capital maintenance and projects. Included in the reserves is an estimated $3.28 million categorized as the Public Benefits Fund, which helps fund energy efficiency projects and the rate discount offered to low-income residents.
The fund operates similarly to the Greenhouse Gas Fund, which focuses on energy efficiency improvements and securing resources to help the utility meet renewable energy mandates.
“There are also some unique uses for that (fund) that help us mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a new category of wildfire mitigation,” Price said.
Councilman Doug Kuehne asked whether the fund could be used to add more electric vehicle charging stations around the city. The city currently has seven, with the majority of the stations located in the downtown area.
“We have some flexibility to upgrade the current stations and we have some flexibility to add to the stations,” Price said.
Lodi’s Business Development Manager Astrida Trupovnieks has been researching the city’s infrastructure to determine what would be needed to establish additional charging stations, as well as developing an incentive to encourage developers to adopt electric recharge stations as part of their projects, according to Price.
“We did attempt several times to negotiate agreements with new developments that would have allowed for (EV stations) to be installed for shopping centers, but we were not successful in getting developers to agree to that,” Lodi City Manager Steve Schwabauer said.
A few of the city’s charging stations are free of charge, but those stations are metered and the city collects a credit from the California Air Resources Board.
“We can turn around, once we broker those credits, and again use that funding for the EV station,” Price said.