Lodi Elec­tric Util­ity tells coun­cil of its fi­nan­cial strength

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Oula Miq­bel NEWS-SEN­TINEL STAFF WRITER

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.

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