Desert residents are bracing for their electric bills this summer, the bad news, electric rates may climb even higher over a dispute.
The Imperial Irrigation District is considering leaving the Coachella Valley over proposed Assembly Bill 854 by State Sen. Chad Mayes. Mayes wants to add six members from Riverside County onto the I.I.D. board made of five imperial county members.
Emmanuel Martinez is the I.I.D. Government Affairs Specialist, he said the board president, Erik Ortega, ordered staff to brainstorm options to divest from the Coachella Valley.
Martinez said, “By virtue of this bill that’s being proposed, people in the Coachella Valley would vote twice, double representation by voting by CVWD board members and IID members and in effect dilute the vote of the people in the Imperial Valley.”
He said there’s a contractual agreement between the Coachella Valley Water District and the I.I.D. that legally prevents from adding board members from the Riverside County.
If the board does decide to leave the desert, that means residents of Indio, La Quinta, and Coachella could pay almost double for electricity.
Darrel Mikes is an I.I.D. customer he said he pays roughly $400 a month on electricity in summer months. If I.I.D. leaves, he said, “That means we’re going to have to go to Socal which is higher rates.”
The current I.I.D. customers pay less than 12 cents per Kilowatt-hour, compared to the 19 cents Southern California Edison customers pay.
The possible change worries customers like Amparo Mendez, a lower income senior citizen who pays a set rate in her electric bill.
Mendez, “Of course it will affect me because if the company leaves then onto another city or another place then the problems fall on us.”
Martinez said the board’s president is also seeking legal counsel on maintaining local services, but at the same time hired an assets evaluation firm to keep all options on the table.
Martinez said, “The residents that I’ve talked to really don’t care to vote for more elected leaders they really just care that their rates are affordable and that they’re lights are on.”
Martinez said there is no timeline on when staff will present the divesting plan to the I.I.D. board of directors.