The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors officially announced the formation of the Coachella Valley Energy Commission in Tuesday’s meeting. Representation for the Coachella Valley has been long requested and will be tasked with providing immediate representation for the energy needs in parts of our valley.
Leaders on both sides are calling this move a step in the right direction, but many more decisions need to be made when it comes to energy and whether the IID will continue to be a provider to the Coachella Valley.
“There have been issues that existed for perhaps 50 years, concerns that there are ratepayers in the Coachella Valley who feel that they want some additional voice and representation when it comes IID’s energy matters in their community,” said J.B. Hamby, Vice President of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors.
Right now the board is made up entirely of Imperial County representatives, even though they service Indio, Coachella, La Quinta, Thousand Palms, and other parts of the valley.
With the formation of the new Coachella Valley Energy Commission, IID says they’ve improved representation and they’re ready to move forward.
“We can bring everyone around the same table with the iid and our staff and have resources available to be able to meet immediate community needs, but most importantly to start to chart out the future of what it looks like after 2033,” added Hamby.
But local leaders say the commission is toothless, it is a forum and members now have a voice, but no actual voting power.
“Not having any representation in the Coachella Valley is unacceptable, so by them proposing the energy commission, that is exactly what they are saying, now I don’t know if it’s perfect, it certainly isn’t perfect, it’s not getting us to full voting rights which is ultimately the goal but I do think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Assemblyman Chad Mayes.
The 99-year agreement with the IID and the Coachella Valley Water District to provide power will expire in 2033, this new commission will also play a part in what happens 12 years from now.
“Things, when this agreement was signed in 1934, are very different than they are today. The Coachella Valley Water District right now, even though they are massively raising their water rates for Coachella Valley residents, they are also enjoying 2 to 3 million dollars every year that they get from iid per this agreement, it something that really doesn’t make any sense to me,” explained Hamby.
“To the idea of transitioning to an investor-owned utility like Southern California Edison, in fact, I’ll introduce legislation to make sure that does not happen,” added Mayes.